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rory's avatar

How to divide a living room so that part of it can also be a bedroom?

Asked by rory (1397points) May 18th, 2015

I’m living in a smallish two bedroom apartment with two other friends this summer. None of us particularly want to share a room, so we’re converting part of the living room into third bedroom space and alternating who lives in it month by month. Ideally we’d like to have a living room space, albeit small, beside the bedroom, so that we can still sit on couches and stuff without disturbing our roommate too much.

The problem is that the living room is very large and doesn’t have a doorway. The other problem is we’re too broke to buy expensive room dividers to separate out a space. The place is a rental, so we can’t really attach a permanent fixture to the room like a curtain rod or anything.
Here is the floor plan. Any suggestions for cheap ways to create temporary room dividers?

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19 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Asian screens.
Look on C’slist for japanese shoji screens, room divider screens or other carved screens to portion off part of the room in an ” L” or “U” shape. Being a former interior designer and home stager screens are a great way to portion off rooms for extra privacy.

I’d go for the lightweight paper shoji/shinto screens, you can buy them new for fairly cheap as well at places like Ikea.
The heavier more ornate wooden screens are cool but if they are on carpet can be unstable.
You wouldn’t want a 40–50 lb. wooden screen to fall on you at night. haha

Here…check these out. The opaque paper screens 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rows.

These are great to cordon off part of an open kitchen as well.
Just remember, with backlighting your shadow, naked or otherwise can be seen. lol

rory's avatar

@Coloma those seem great! The only real issue with them is the pricing—it looks like we’d need to buy at least two sets of dividers, potentially three, to make the space private enough (we’re trying to basically surround a relatively large futon). At $100 bucks each, it means we’d all be paying $66, which is a bit steep for broke college kids :(

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I saw somewhere recently where they used shelves to divide the room. Then each person could decide how much privacy they wanted. Cost might be an issue again though.

Coloma's avatar

@rory Yeah, but check out C’sList. I got an amazing wooden screen once for $40. It was so cool. It was solid wood, black lacquer on one side with a gold border and then tiger carvings on the other side. Thing is though I think the light weight ones are best if there is a chance of them getting knocked over.

Coloma's avatar

@rory Any chance the parents would kick in to help you get set up?

Cupcake's avatar

You could build screen frames with some wood and tack on clearance fabric. Should end up pretty inexpensive.

Or you could hang a curtain rod across the room on the ceiling and hang very tall curtains (do you have an Ikea nearby?). In lieu of curtains, you could get queen or king sheets on clearance, or look for inexpensive fabric and sew a quick seam for the curtain rod. You would, of course, have to patch the curtain rod holes before you move out.

longgone's avatar

Bookcases and wardrobes make perfect dividers. They don’t take up empty space, and they are solid enough not to need to be fastened to the wall in most cases.

Is half of the big room larger than one of the small rooms? Otherwise, it may make more sense to split the big room into two sleeping areas. Less breeding ground for conflict. Besides, the rotating sounds stressful.

PS: I can’t find your other thread, somehow, so I will leave this link to a helpful older thread here. Also, living on your own is much less scary than you think! :]

rory's avatar

@Cupcake I guess the issue with a single large curtain rod would be that we couldn’t divide the room in half and have just that half be curtained off—we’d have to curtain either the whole thing or none of it for it to work, unless we did ceiling curtain rods.

rory's avatar

@longgone that thread is helpful! and the living room space is bigger, but I think all of us really want to have doors. bookcases and wardrobes might work well! the only issue there is really cost and moving furniture and stuff—we’re only living there for like three months so it wouldn’t make sense to bring in giant furniture objects.

YARNLADY's avatar

Foam Insulation boards are cheap. I just wedge two or three against the ceiling and brace with a piece of furniture.

longgone's avatar


Got it. Didn’t realize you’d be moving out again that soon.

RocketGuy's avatar

My dad got me my own room, years ago, by dividing our living room with 4×8 plywood.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

What about some cheap bookcases. If you can find some online secondhand, you could paint them and use them later. Students always need more bookshelves. They make good room dividers though.

Or if you’re pretty handy, make something like this you could put a ply backboard on it and have a great room divider. You might be able to get secondhand timber to put something similar together.

JLeslie's avatar

When I was in college we had two girls in one room and one in the other. Why not add a twin bed to the larger room against the wall and alternate who gets the single bedroom. Or, if you can all agree on who gets it, have that person pay a larger portion of the rent. If the girls who share a room need privacy one night, the other can sleep out on the sofa.

I’d rather have the living room there for everyone, including guests to congregate in.

Just my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll just add that you can still put a dresser out in the living room if there isn’t enough space in the bedroom.

JLeslie's avatar

Did someone already suggest Ikea for room dividers, they have reasonable priced ones.

Also, I bought styrofoam board at Home Depot to seal off a section of my house to not heat it during the winter. That stuff is light weight and you could do it floor to ceiling somehow and actually create enough privacy that the other person could have a light on. If you divide the larger bedroom you could support the board with the beds and dressers. You could make a “door” out of cheap, light weight, dark, fabric.

Buttonstc's avatar

Styrofoam panels are lightweight, inexpensive, and available in a wide variety of lengths widths and thicknesses.

Just go to a home improvement store (or even an Art Supply store) and get three or more panels and enough hinges hinges to secure them This way they can be free standing (accordion style) without needing to be attached to ceiling or walls.

They usually come in plain white (since the smaller ones are frequently used as sign boards) but, depending upon how much more work you want to put into it can be decorated in a variety of ways.

You can get cheap fabrics on sale and either glue or staple them on the panels.

Or, if anyone is artistic, get some Acrylic paint jars and go to town. You’re only limited by your imagination.

dxs's avatar

If you want to take a trip to Boston there are a couple of bookcases here my roommates are trying to get rid of. You can take them.
Also, check

ibstubro's avatar

Currently entertainment centers are completely without value and would be ideal for what you need as they add storage. Check @dxs’ freecycle, thrift stores, resale shops and anywhere classifieds are listed in your area. You should be able to get some free for the hauling.

I also like @YARNLADY‘s foam insulation boards. They come up to several inches thick, are inexpensive, and can be cut with a serrated knife. You might combine the entertainment center and board ideas.

If there is drop ceiling, by chance, you can buy hooks that slip over the tracks and allow you to hang shower curtains, curtains, sheets, or blankets from the ceiling with little effort and no damage.

In your floor plan I would look toward carving the room out of the SW corner, so the living and dining rooms will still adjoin.

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