If you live in a tight studio apartment or share a dorm suite with fellow college students, you know the lifestyle (and its troubles) quite well.
For one, your kitchen leaks into your living room and bedroom, which doesn’t exactly shout “classy” or “privacy.”
The second is even more astounding. Somehow, the setup makes the entire space feel even smaller than it truly is. How is that possible?
Don’t worry; we have the fix!
These nine room-dividing ideas can make space feel bigger without having to tear down a wall or build a makeshift, stacked storage bin wall.
A Cubby Bookshelf
The closest thing you’ll find to a wall (aside from installing new beams and breaking your lease) is jimmying a cubby-style bookshelf between your bedroom and living room.
The larger, the better.
The Cyano Bookrack as wide as it is long — nearly six feet in either direction.
You can fill the cubbies with pull drawers and cloth baskets if you want more privacy and practical storage space for knick-knacks. On top of hiding your queen-sized bed almost entirely, you can infuse your personality with decor.
4-Panel Screen Dividers
If you want to ‘enlarge’ and divide your space on a budget, the most logical option is a simplistic panel screen divider. Screen dividers can turn one room into several smaller rooms.
When you’re home alone and snuggling, you can leave your studio in its natural, airy state. But when guests arrive for a Thanksgiving extravaganza, yank the divider from the closet, unfold it, and voila — separate rooms!
It’s classy, affordable, and the textbook definition of ‘temporary.’
They might not qualify for a Better Homes & Gardens cover slot, but with nothing more than a flowy and colorful curtain and a rod (or track), you can create mini rooms in a spacious open floor plan suite.
Block your bedroom from view when you invite your friends over for wine night. Or install a track around your living room area, attach blackout curtains, and turn movie night into an all-day affair.
Hide the mess and make your space feel bigger in a matter of seconds when surprise guests come knocking!
Creating Separate “Rooms”
No, you don’t need to hire a contractor, erect wood beams, and build a wall to separate your rooms and trick yourself into thinking it’s bigger.
Instead, create separate rooms by not letting one room flow into the next.
For example, position a sofa at the foot of your bed so that, when you binge-watch The Office, you aren’t staring at your messy closet.
The key to this technique is arranging your furniture around imaginary walls. If you have three sofas and a TV, create a box with them (as if they lined the walls in a traditional layout).
A DIY Wood Pallet Divider
In the DIY world, there’s a fine line between artistic and tacky. But if you know a warehouse worker (or grocery store employee) and have an artistic eye, you can add an industrial twist to your room division concept:
Convert wood pallets into barriers.
Stand them vertically, stack them on top of each other, screw them together, and create a ‘corner.’ Or, create a sturdy pallet-made wall, and hang your favorite posters and photos on it — just like a corkboard!
Check out this article on pallet room divider ideas to get inspiration.
Sliding Barn Doors
Open floor plans are still one of the hottest interior design trends in the modern era. But they’re also wildly inconvenient if you crave alone time or simply want to silence your noisy roommate’s hooting and hollering at 3 a.m.
Sliding barn doors can build a temporary barrier.
If you’re a DIY guru, hanging a rustic-style barn door can cost only a few hundred dollars and be an afternoon project. And, since barn doors sit flush as they glide against the wall, they eat up less space than a normal door.
Add a little farmhouse character and some much-needed privacy.
A Classy Shelving Unit
If you’re toeing the line between practical and aesthetic, a classy shelving unit is the perfect middle ground.
Choose a freestanding bookcase with an eye-catching, geometric build. Then, wedge it up against a wall perpendicularly to break up a blended area into two defined spaces.
Now, let those artistic juices flow!
An empty bookshelf is just a peephole for nosy guests until you add some decor. Fill in the gaps with your favorite book collections, cacti, framed photos, wooden quote blocks, and anything sentimental.
If the shelves are deep enough, you can even add decor to each side.
Build Up (Use Your Vertical Space)
When you think about dividing a space, you typically imagine left and right, not up and down. A lofted bed is the perfect way to ‘buy’ yourself some extra square footage without splurging on a more spacious floor plan.
In other words, take advantage of your vertical space.
With a high-loft bunk giving you a bird’s eye view of the unit (at least six feet tall), the choice is yours.
Deck out the cove beneath with wood shelves and a rocker to create a private reading nook. Slide your work desk underneath to make a mini cubicle. Or, build a ‘man cave’ fitted with your Xbox, a gaming chair, and light strips.
If you really want to declutter and impress your guests, install a curtain track along the edges of your bed so you can block off your extra room.
Put Rugs in Each “Room”
Cubbies, shelving units, and panel dividers can all convert the average 514 square foot studio into four or five separate rooms quite masterfully. But if you want to preserve that airy, open floor plan, don’t put up makeshift barriers.
Simply add a rug to each space instead.
The trick is ‘connecting’ your furniture to the rug in each room. For example, circle your living room decor — couches, bookshelves, television, and all-around a 5-foot by an 8-foot area rug.
It’s also a good idea to assign each room a color palette or theme (like mid-century modern or pastels). That way, your brain links the rug to the rest of the room’s decor, fooling it into believing it’s a totally separate space.
Before you splurge on rustic-themed barn doors or a high-end panel divider, ask yourself this one question:
Do I really need to divide the space?
If your guests complain about your messy bedroom or comment about your studio’s quaint size the moment they walk through your front door, then yes; these nine strategies can save you from that embarrassment.
But if you want a reading nook, makeshift recording studio, and a gaming cave on top of your other rooms, no strategy will make your space feel bigger. Try to infuse these into your living room naturally without dividing the space.
With that, it’s time to regain some square footage!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove Stephenville to help them with their online marketing.