Designers share creative room divider ideas that don't require a permanent renovation.

By Wendy Rose Gould
January 10, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

The average cost to wall off a room can run you anywhere from $2,000 to a whopping $10,000. It’s certainly one of the more effective and permanent options, but not everyone’s existing budget is that flexible, nor is everyone able to renovate their space (we’re looking at you, renters). Whether you’re in the process of saving up for a true wall or you’re simply seeking creative, decorative room divider ideas, consider these seven designer suggestions.

1
Tall, Closed Shelving

Short of building an actual wall, a very tall closed shelving unit will instant create division between two spaces in a room. Alessandra Wood, the vice president of style at Modsy, recommends something akin to the Ikea Billy System (starting at $69; ikea.com) or Ikea Pax System (starting at $330; ikea.com). “These pieces come in an extra tall version, so they sit just below the ceiling giving the illusion of a wall. They also add a ton of additional storage, so they’re super useful,” she says.

Since the units will be floating in a room, you’ll want to make sure everything is anchored in so it doesn’t tip over. “When I did this in my former studio, I actually put a desk on the backside, bolted everything together, then bolted it to the wall,” says Wood.

2
Open Shelving

If you want to create division without completely enclosing a space, then open shelving could be the perfect room divider idea.

“I love this option because the bookshelf itself lends the height and depth of what a wall would naturally provide, but it offers you more opportunity to add storage or decor to a room while letting light flow through,” says Lindsay Pumpa, an interior designer based in South Florida. “Installing this is as simple as deciding where you want the room divide," she says. "Because this is a piece of furniture, you don't have to worry about it being permanent and you can move or adjust it as your needs change.”

A heavy, wide piece will help prevent the shelf from toppling (bolting it down is also a great safety measure). Pumpa recommends the Modloft Pearl Bookcase ($1,099; modloft.com), and the CB2 V Bookcase-Room Divider ($799; cb2.com) is another option.

3
Metal Chain Link Curtain

“When you want to break up a room and make an impact, a chain curtain will accomplish both,” says interior designer Katie Stix, the design director at Anderson Design Studio. “I like this wall alternative because it’s groovy, different, and luxurious feeling, and it can even be considered art. At the same time, it breaks up a large space to add drama and some privacy.” You’ll likely need to have a piece custom installed by a local metal artist, or you can consult a company such as Boegger, which offers a variety of metal curtains to choose from.

4
Sofa and Credenza Combo

Strategic furniture placement is a simple way to organically divide your room. For instance, a sofa paired with a console table or credenza can create an intimate living room on one side and whatever your heart desires on the other—say, a dining space, reading nook, or children’s play area. Or if you’re in a studio apartment, an extra tall headboard also offers a sense of division.

“By utilizing furniture rather than building a wall, you have the option of moving the items around and it won’t block the natural light, which ultimately makes a space feel larger,” says Diana Weinstein, an interior designer and founder of DW Design in New Jersey. “When creating the illusion of division within a room with furniture, I recommend investing in quality pieces that you can have for years and move to different rooms if you get tired of the design layout.”

One option Weinstein recommends is pairing CB2’s Avec Emerald Green Sofa with Brass Legs ($1599; cb2.com) with the Coyne Credenza ($999; cb2.com).

5
Floor to Ceiling Light Installation

Let there be light and artful division. A floor to ceiling light installation is similar to the metal curtain idea, only it doubles as an ambient light source. Kelly Dunn, the head interior designer at Fathom Design Company, says one of her favorites is the Abacus Floor to Ceiling LED Linear Suspension ($2600 to $3700; lumens.com), which isn’t as cost effective as some options, but still offers a striking solution.

“This particular piece can be customized to any height or width and each of the bulbs move on a vertical slide, so you can use it as a living element to add a unique vibe depending on your needs for the evening,” she says. You can also DIY a series of down-lit strings or install curtain string lights, such as Twinkle Star 600 LED Window Curtain String Lights ($32; amazon.com), if you’re seeking a less expensive option.

6
Wooden Dowel or Rope Installation

For a similar floor-to-ceiling room divider idea that doesn’t involve plugging anything in or working with an electrician, opt for a DIY wood or rope installation. "Working in NYC residential, I design a lot of small spaces. One of my favorite recent techniques is to hang wood dowels from the ceiling,” says Dunn. “It separates the space organically while adding texture and filtering light nicely. It also helps your overall space look larger, keeps your natural light intact, and still gives you the vibe of multiple spaces in a single room.”

Pumpa agrees, adding that rope also works. She says, “I love a rope wall because it divides the space and adds a unique decorative element. Plus, you can take creative liberties in the way you fasten the rope—straight tie versus a zig-zag design—and choose whether you want a cleaner rope versus a looser hemp weave.” She says you can either create a movable stand-alone piece, or anchor the rope to the ceiling and floor for a more permanent feel.

7
Plants and Large Planters

Those with a green thumb can utilize plants and large planters to create a faux half wall. “Not only will you be creating a sense of privacy within a space, but you are bringing in color, a feeling of life, and great energy with live plants. And it’s no secret that plants are also great for the quality of air,” says Weinstein. “There are a ton of great options in a variety of sizes, and by playing with the height of plants you can create as much division to a space as necessary.” Try West Elm's Citycape Planters, Tall Double ($299; westelm.com) with your favorite plants.

Advertisement