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10 No-Reno Ways to Turn One Room into Two

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Blurring the lines between rooms can have tangible upsides. A kitchen that opens up to a living room, for example, makes entertaining a more communal experience. A footed bathtub right inside a guest bedroom is pretty undeniably sexy, even zen. A dining room that isn't walled off might actually get used.

Even under the guise of the "open floor plan" trend, this idea is hardly novel—"tearing down walls" has a positive implication (abolish barriers to gain sunshine, air space, head space, freedom, etc). But no matter how much you buy into this, there are just as many instances that it's nice to have a little privacy and division within a large room.

Windowed walls in our office keep small rooms from feeling closed in.
Windowed walls in our office keep small rooms from feeling closed in. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Why? To create private, nook-ish, or otherwise cozy areas; to encourage the flow of people through a room in a particular way; or even to give the illusion of more space than you have. If you've ever felt the need for rooms within your rooms, but not more walls, here are ten room dividers that will provide that emotional delineation while still letting in light and air—and, maybe most importantly, that don't require any major renovations.

Folding Screens

As they come in every style (from laser-cut metals to thrifted wooden antiques), with the option of re-finishing or re-upholstering to suit your look, screens are a casual way to lend a little privacy (but not too much). And, of course, you can fold them away if you want to open the room back up.

Paned Glass

A great choice for when the priority is to make good on a little natural light, like if you want to make a bedroom within a studio but there are only windows at one end. A windowed divider means light can pass through to two rooms.


Sand-Blasted Glass

For glass walls with a bit more privacy, consider sand-blasted ones, which obscure most of what's on other side in a pleasant haziness, while still giving you a glimpse.

Slatted Wood

As much a decorative addition as a divider, a floor-to-ceiling installation of wooden slats—which you could even install on an angle to obscure visibility from certain perspectives—lets light through but is more substantial than glass.

Open Shelves

A tall unit of open shelves can be as transparent as you choose, depending on the material its crafted from and how you densely you stock them.

Plant Wall

Stack your open shelves with lots of greens of all shapes and sizes for a little bit of the outdoors that the light and air can move right through.

Half Windows

This one might require a bit more muscle to install than does a set of open shelves, but if you're keen on actually building a wall, try one with glass or plexi halfway up, as we do in our office—or even with a partial opening, as Lindsay-Jean did!

Curtains & Textiles

To keep this move from feeling two boho (unless that's your look), consider getting drapes that are a little more tailored and extend all the way from floor to ceiling. Fluttery linens and laces will of course let in more light than velvety drapes, though nobody says you can't do the latter.

Decorative Cinder Blocks

When neatly stacked, cinder blocks can be unrecognizable as part of an indoor wall that lets light through the openings in each brick—and a large hardware store like Lowe's will carry decorative shapes expressly for this purpose.

Voilà: private office on the other side! With no light lost.


Tall, slender pieces of furniture, from bookshelves to freestanding desks, can be positioned to separate spaces—in the same way that a strategically-placed couch with a table behind it will imply lounging on one side but not the other.

Are you pro-open floor plan or over it? Let us know in the comments!

Tags: small space, studio living, room dividers