7 Ways to Wall Off a Room (Without Building a Wall)

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

Walling off a room can run you anywhere from $2,000 to a whopping $10,000. It's certainly the most effective option, but not everyone has a flexible budget or the authority to renovate their space. (We're looking at you, renters.) Whether you're in the process of saving for a permanent wall or you're simply seeking creative, decorative room divider ideas, consider these seven designer suggestions.

01 of 07

Tall, Closed Shelving

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

Since the shelving units will be floating in a room, anchor them down so they don'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.

02 of 07

Open Shelving

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

"I love this option because the bookshelf itself provides the height and depth that a wall would, but it also allows you 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."

The heavier and wider the piece, the less likely the shelf will topple. (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 a slightly less expensive option.

03 of 07

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." Hire a local metal artist to custom install a piece, or consult a company such as Boegger, which offers a variety of metal curtains to choose from.

04 of 07

Sofa and Credenza Combo

Strategic furniture placement is a simple way to organically divide your room. Pair a sofa with a console table or credenza to create an intimate living room on one side and whatever your heart desires on the other—say, a dining space, a reading nook, or a children's play area. In a studio apartment, an extra tall headboard can offer a sense of division.

"By utilizing furniture rather than building a wall, you can move 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."

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

05 of 07

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, but 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 is a less cost-effective but still striking solution.

"This particular piece can be customized to any height or width, and each of the bulbs move on a vertical slide," she says. "So you can use it as a living element to add a unique vibe depending on your needs for the evening." 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) for a less expensive option.

06 of 07

Wooden Dowel or Rope Installation

For a floor-to-ceiling room divider that's similar but doesn't involve electricity, 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. "I love a rope wall, because it divides the space and adds a unique decorative element," she says. 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." Create a movable stand-alone piece, or anchor the rope to the ceiling and floor for a more permanent feel.

07 of 07

Plants and Large Planters

Those with a green thumb can create a faux half wall with plants and large planters. "Not only will you be creating a sense of privacy, but you are bringing in color and great energy with live plants. And it's no secret that plants also boost the air quality," 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 Cityscape Planters, Tall Double ($299; westelm.com) with your favorite plants.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles