With the new baby coming, we are so blessed to have family that is able and willing to come stay with us for awhile.  E’s room is quite large and easily fits a full-size sofa bed in addition to her own toddler bed.  However, we felt that having someone sleeping in the same room was possibly causing some sleep issues so I decided that a room divider of some sort was in order.  Not only would it provide a physical (and hopefully psychological) boundary for E, but it would also give the adult sharing the room with her a modicum of privacy and personal space.  It can be hard to live in someone else’s home for an extended period of time, and we wanted to make it as comfortable as possible for our parents/siblings coming to stay with us and help.

At first, I wanted to mount a curtain rail to the ceiling and use panel curtains from IKEA as a room divider.  My husband wisely nixed the idea of anything so permanent, as we are moving in the summer.  Nor did he want me to go out an buy yet another piece of furniture that would need to be moved.  The typical folding room dividers seemed flimsy and unattractive and expensive for what they were.  My mother-in-law offered to lend us their extremely expensive (and extremely heavy) three-panel Stickley wood divider, but I felt that was both impractical for her to move and too short to really provide any division.

A week ago, I came across an old Martha Stewart magazine clipping I’d saved about using bookcases as dividers.  Specifically, the article had suggested using two low and long set of shelves stacked on top of each other to create both storage and a wall.  I realized that I could repurpose a previous IKEA hack: IKEA kitchen cabinets I had mounted on a wall in E’s room as shelves.   These shelves would now go in the middle of the room, between the two beds.  My father, who happens to be visiting and from whom I get my love of all things crafty from, advised that rather than stacking them (which would be hard to secure), to leave them as one row and attach frame for a screen directly to the bookcases.  No new furniture: check!  No permanent fixtures on the wall/ceiling: check! Low cost: check!  Nesting instinct satisfied: check!

I started out with two akurum kitchen cabinets, placed side by side.  The frame was constructed with three vertical square poles and two horizontal wooden dowels.  The akurum cabinets conveniently have holes in the back panel for mounting to a rail or the stud, so we used these holes to secure brackets with pre-drilled holes on the back side of the cabinet.  We then used screws to attach the wooden poles to the brackets and shelves.  My father drilled holes in the poles to fit the dowels, which served as rods to hang my screens from.

For the actual screens themselves, I was inspired by various hanging room-dividers I had seen online constructed of both window frames and repeated shapes.  I used translucent, patterned place mats (also from IKEA) connected with s-hooks.  In all, it was very simple, and we were able to put it together in one morning.  Planning, however, required a few days of measuring and more than one trip to the hardware store (btw, Home Depot > Lowes).

I think the end result is beautiful and I am already thinking of how I can possibly move at least parts of the divider with us cross-country.  I’m also starting to plot ideas for transforming the back side of the room divider into something functional and fun for E to use once our guests have left.

tools & materials:
2 AKURUM cabinets (2’hx3’wx1’d)
3 wooden poles, 1″ square, cut to 67″ tall (would have looked okay with another 1/4″ to 1/2″ in length)
2 wooden dowels, 5/16″ diameter, cut to 3′ in length
18 KLISTRIG placemats (come in packs of 4) – NOTE: use the metric measurements
48 small s-hooks to attach placemats to each other, more to attach to screens to the sides of the frame
12 large s-hooks to attach screen to dowels
cup or eye hooks to attach screens to sides of frame
jigsaw/hand-held saw
electric drill
electric screwdriver
needle-nose pliers (crimping the s-hooks)

previous akurum hack:
deka curtain wires
fabric for inside of shelves and curtain coverings

potential continuation of hack (in the future, duration of pregnancy permitting):
foam core posterboard
chalk board spray paint