From Huge to Cozy: 5 Creative Ways to Divide a Room

how to divide a room

When you’re shopping for a fixer-upper, you learn pretty quickly that “move-in ready” isn’t a common characteristic in the homes you’re touring. Fixer-uppers, by definition, need some work. New kitchens, paint jobs and new roofs are frequent requirements. Sometimes, even the floor plan needs to be changed; the place just doesn’t flow.

A common scenario I wrote about recently is a wall you want to remove to open up space. A similar problem is the flip-side of that coin ... a space that is just way too open!

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Huge Rooms Can Feel Cavernous

There was a period of time in housing design history that focused heavily on “more” space. Rooms being built seemed to go on forever: great rooms, game rooms, man caves that felt like stadiums. If you love this kind of open space, well, perfect, but many homeowners prefer a more cozy feel.

I’m in the latter group. I prefer spaces that allow for conversation and a more intimate togetherness with family and friends. If I’m alone, I prefer a room that feels purposeful and comfortable. I don’t want to feel like I’m all by myself in a room big enough to be a Starbucks.

Of course, I would never let that happen. If a space is too small we can fix it. If it’s too big, we can fix that too!

1. Bookshelf Room Divider

build a bookcase room divider
Source: "Half Wall Bookcase" by
Bookcases have the potential to be excellent room dividers. The side with all the books always looks great and provides so many opportunities to give a space a real dose of your own personal vibe. The titles you choose to display, the souvenirs from your world travels and the photos and the lifestyle they depict are all great ways to set the tone for your space.

Bookcases are also a versatile option height-wise. A tall bookcase can close an area off above eye level to create completely separate rooms whereas a low bookcase can divide up the larger space while still allowing visual and vocal interaction.

A word of caution: If you use high bookcases in the middle of a room it’s very important to be sure the top is secured to the ceiling or the shelving unit itself is very solid and secured to the floor. An unstable tall bookcase full of your favorite things can be very dangerous indeed.

Along the same lines as a store-bought bookcase, but more custom, is the idea of actually installing some built-ins. Custom built-ins can be designed very specifically to create the perfect space. Built-ins are also a wonderful way to fine-tune those carpentry skills!

2. Bar-Height Kitchen Table or a Moveable Kitchen Island

build a kitchen island
Source: "DIY Kitchen Island and Building Plans" by
A common residential design style, often seen in loft-type spaces, is a kitchen that is completely open to the main living area, almost as if they are the same room. This space is often broken up by a dining table. A really great twist on that idea is to use a large high-top table or kitchen island instead of a regular-height piece. This keeps the room open at eye level but really serves as a line of demarcation that creates a clear feeling for where the kitchen itself starts and stops.

3. Huddled Furniture Arrangement

build a console table
Source: "Floating Top Console Table Building Plans" by
Many a large room can be much more efficiently utilized just by bringing the furniture in from the perimeter walls. Using sofas, chairs, lamps and tables as “walls,” it’s very possible to create the same natural flow of individual rooms within a larger space. A sofa with a sofa table behind it is as effective a traffic director as an actual wall!

4. Half Wall Room Divider Ideas

build a pony wall
Source: "Pony Walls With Columns Are In" by
Speaking of walls, they aren’t all created equal. A partial wall is another great way of adding a level of coziness to an open space without breaking up the eye-level view. Partial walls don’t have to be exactly “half” walls. They can be low, around 24 inches, or railing height at around 40 inches or anywhere in-between.

Partial walls have the unique ability to provide for normal electrical service such as switches and power outlets, which in our world of chargers and power adapters can be very important!

5. DIY Partition Wall

build a divider wall
Source: "How to Build a Sliding Wall" by
Last, but maybe most obvious, you can just build a wall! It’s really not hard to build a partition wall in an existing space. If you don’t know how to finish drywall, consider covering your wall with some sort of paneling, such as shiplap. You can often be done with a project like this in a weekend and end up with an entirely new room!

Some spaces are just too big, and that’s all there is to it! And just like with spaces that aren’t big enough, the key is to keep an open mind and be willing to see possibilities where other home shoppers might miss them! That’s how you find that diamond in the rough!