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How to Use Room Dividers in Small Spaces

Updated on August 25, 2012

Defining functions of living in one room

Many people who currently live or are going to move to the city on their own cannot afford to live in one bedroom apartments, therefore many of them opt to live in a studio. A studio apartment is similar to an efficiency, meaning that there is only one room for living, sleeping and eating. Fortunately, most studio have a separate room for the bathroom. An efficiency is just like a studio but there is no real kitchen but rather a section of the wall may have a sink and a burner for cooking. There are some decent size studios, but most tend to be under 400 square feet. The biggest challenge of living in a studio is how to section of your bed from the living area.

Many studio dwellers try to partition off their bed by creating an entirely separate space from the main room. In alcove studios, the room is almost like an "L" shape and even though it is technically one room, there is a a section of space that is not part of the typical 4 walls. This space is where most people will place their bed so it won't stand in the middle of the living area.

The question that usually arises, is how much of the sleeping space should be concealed? Should there just be a screen in front of the bed, with a sofa sitting in front on the other side? Should one use a long room divider to make the sleeping area into a completely second room? Or should one use a hanging curtain divider?

There is no right answer or decorating faux pas when it come to this. It's all about the size of the space you are working with and what you are trying to accomplish. The biggest mistake is not to do anything at all. It is so important to define the function of sleeping and living. Sleeping is done in the bedroom, and living is done in the living room. You should not walk into a studio apartment to see the bed in the middle of the room.

Depending on how you position the bed will determine the type of room divider that should be used. If you place your bed (assuming full or queen size) in the middle of the wall, it means that you have room for a night stand or end table on each side of the bed. This also means that your room is configured in a way that you could section off the whole bed by using two 6 panel room divider screens. One on each side, so when its folded it should cover 100 inches of floor space.

Some people will simply put some wall partition, or book case in front of their bed to separate the space from the living room. This idea can work, however the bed is still visible from some angles. Ideally, you want to have as little exposure of your sleeping area from the common area.

Another way to section off the sleeping area from the living area is to use a hanging curtain. Hanging curtains are okay if used in a doorway, or hospital, but often I see them used to divide a studio apartment. Curtains from floor to ceiling to divide a room is a bad idea because it shrinks the room quite a bit considering the space is small to begin with. Since you don't live in an open loft, you must be aware of the height of a room divider. If it's too tall, it will clutter the room. Also keep in mind the height of the ceilings. If you have higher ceilings, a 7ft screen would suffice. For lower ceilings, stick with the 6ft screens. Remember that you don't live on a Broadway stage, so curtain dividers are for the theater, not the home.

The rule for separating the bed from the living space in your studio apartment is to do and use whatever you can to hide that bed. The bed is the living room's enemy and they do not belong in the same room, just as the toilet does not belong in the kitchen. Invest in some room divider screens and position them in the right place to create a partitioned sleeping area and you will find yourself a little less confused and disoriented in your new studio apartment.

Hiding bed with a room divider in a studio apartment
Hiding bed with a room divider in a studio apartment | Source


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      Benjamin 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Absolutely Tina. I live in a studio apartment in Manhattan (450 sq.ft) rectangular shape. I use a 4 panel divider in front of a full size bed and it feels as if I have a separate living room. When I take the divider down, I feel like I'm living in a college dorm.

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      Tina 5 years ago

      Sometimes room dividers can create a feeling of more space especially in a small room.