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Room Divider - Need Creative Ideas!!

13 years ago

My home is a center-hall colonial, living room to the left of the entry. Living room is never used, and the back part of it doubles as my office.

My DH doesn't want me to spend any money in here (whatever) --- as no one ever goes in here but me. But I do! - and part of the room is seen from the entry.

Recently, I removed a sofa that was running the width of the room; the sofa table was in back of it, visible when entering the room. I also took out two end tables, as I had way too many.

I do like the sofa table and plan to get another chair for the side of the organ and put the chair that is currently there on the other side of the sofa table. I also need a larger rug.

The fountain in the far left corner will go (DH bought that for me thinking I needed soothing water to relieve work stress), but I didn't want to hurt his feelings, so that is where it is. I plan to move it to the sunroom and replace the table with a large plant.

What I really hate is the room divider. I bought it to block all of the "Stuff" I have. I am looking for some way to block all of my files, etc. (pic follows) - and yet have it look good when looking into the room. I need something about 48" wide and 40" tall to hide everything. I don't think I want another wood piece, and have spent a good part of the day searching for "something". The room is 12' wide and 25' long. Any and all ideas would be so gratefully appreciated. Thank you.

This is looking into the room from the foyer:

Left side of the room:

Right side of the room:

Full Shot: Sorry it is dark - should have taken the picture this morning.

View of the stuff I need to hide:

Comments (27)

  • bananafana
    13 years ago

    If you want to keep the budget small, could you find a fabric you love and cover or drape that existing screen?

  • no_green_thumb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Banana, are you suggesting just draping over it?? replacing the wooden panels? I tried to see if they come out and it appears that the metal was put on and welded around it - can't figure out how to get it apart.

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    Thank you everyone for the fabulous ideas! I am on the lookout now for any and all of them! wonbyherwits, that is a great idea. Anything that does double-duty in a small room is an asset! I will check out the local import store to see if they have something similar. syllabus, thanks for all the great ideas. After reading your post, I did a quick search on ebay yesterday and saw some incredible art pottery umbrella stands. Too expensive but I like the idea, maybe I can find a less expensive alternative. And I love gardening, so finding something that's intended for the garden is a great idea too. johnmari, what keywords did you use on the ebay search to find that table by the chair? Love the coffee table too. And I hear you on the sand for anything tippy...the local lamp repair shop guy told me he fills every pottery lamp he gets with sand. And I would use a round wood top on anything, with a pre-schooler in the house. organic, I am in Maine. I check every day, though so far I haven't found anything worth the drive. Thanks for the link. There was something similar at a consigment store down the street from me...I will go take a second look at it. Storage would be a big bonus (as you know, in a small house!). teeda, my ex had one of those magazine tables (belonged to his grandfather), so I know exactly what you're describing. As for price, I guess I would cut off consideration of anything that went over $150. Kind of depends on the piece though. I think I need 3 items. kec01, I am still hopeful of finding a taller plant stand. I might even go ahead and get a rather short one just to have some variation in the height of the tables in the room. There is one chair that could handle it. pfmastin, thanks for the crock photo. I love that look but couldn't visualize how a top would fit. That photo helps. lindasc, I am on the lookout!
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  • paint_chips
    13 years ago

    All your files would look great in an antique armoire. Painted/distressed perhaps? Even your printer and music would fit. That way, you could delete the room divider and those tables that are holding equipment.

    I hope Les can see this. She is a guru at furniture arrangements.

    LOLing about the fountain. DH came home with a 6 ft round trough this weekend to build me one. What do I need a dinky little buried tub for? LOL Anyway, he is excited.

  • luckygal
    13 years ago

    NGT, you have lovely floors and some nice furniture in that room, it would be best if you could hide/eliminate the office clutter to make it work.

    Hope you don't take this as a criticism but from pics it seems IMHO the problem is that the use of the room is not really defined. An office, a music practice room, a repository for things - really needs to be named and decorated accordingly. Could you move some of this furniture to other rooms and perhaps move a sofa and chair in so it might look and be used as the LR it was intended to be? I'm all for shopping your house to save spending money.

    I'm not good at telling people how to rearrange their rooms altho recommend doing it on paper or a computer program first to save effort and strain. Large rooms usually are best arranged in areas of use.

    Would you like the screen better if it were another color? Spray paint is wonderful for changing the appearance of many things.

    Another option might be to put a door on the room. Even a French door with frosted glass or a curtain might help.

  • suero
    13 years ago

    How about plants of varying heights, some on stands and some at floor level.

  • palimpsest
    13 years ago

    Get a pair of slab hollow core doors or a bifold door, paint it out the wall color, and you could hang a print or something on the LR side. I think the key here is to blend in.

  • gwbr54
    13 years ago

    It might be easier to look for a credenza with file drawers, or 2-drawer lateral files. Files would be readily accessible, but out of sight when drawers or doors are closed. With all the business difficulties of the past few years, nice looking, inexpensive, used office furniture is available in spades in most areas.

    Lots of light and windows in that room - and it's big. Do you enjoy facing the window? I ask because I would be inclined to float the desk with a credenza (or even your sofa table) behind the desk. Would the organ fit where the sofa table is now? It might be nice to see only seating and nice art work when looking in from the foyer. Maybe the pair of chairs in the corner, with table in between.

    It sounds like moving some of the furniture from that room was a great idea. Good luck with whatever direction you take!

  • olychic
    13 years ago

    I don't own a piano, so don't know if upright/spinets need to be against a wall for acoustics, but if not, how about putting the piano perpendicular to the wall where the divider is to hide the clutter? You could then make a nice little seating arrangement with the rug and 2 caned chairs and one of the little tables, kind of to the left of the piano, angled toward the door. You could move the display shelves to where the piano is now, or move the other pieces around to see what works. You might even be able to utilize the display shelves in an L arrangement behind the newly placed piano to organize some of your stuff, if spending $$ on anything else is not an option. Then I'd move the piece nearest the doorway to where the display shelf piece is now (if it works there).

  • patty_cakes
    13 years ago

    I like the idea of the doors, maybe antique doors? There are many to choose from at antique stores as well as salvage yards. if you buy 2, all you would have to do is hinge them together~not that difficult. ;o)

  • sandra_zone6
    13 years ago

    Do you like your desk as it is? How about angling it facing in to the room in the corner where your printer is now? Remove the tv from the one side of your desk and get a large planted palm or something to put in the floor to help hide the monitor.

    A closed wood armoir, in the opposing corner where your fountain is now could help hide your stuff inside. I think you need a tall piece in your room, you have stuff that is all the same height; an armoir would fit that bill. Search Craigslist in your area.

    Move your rug to the center of the room up front and create a sitting area there with the chairs together instead of on opposing sides, table and maybe a floor lamp.

    Drapery panels on rods would bring some warmth to your windows; hang them high and to the floor. To maintain the light in your room, have them on each side so they just cover the start of your trim. Check out JC Penney.

  • graywings123
    13 years ago

    Along the lines of what luckygirl said, you need to define the room's use because right now it comes off as a storage area for nice pieces of furniture not of use in other rooms. I would bring the sofa back in so that it looks like a living room. And, the addition of the fabric would give the eye a rest from looking at all the wood pieces.

    OR: Make it a real office. Empty the room of everything except the organ and your desk and situate the desk more towards the center of the room. Then fill in with the other pieces, getting rid of the less than attractive office pieces as much as possible. Use the sewing machine as your printer stand, the sofa table as a credenza behind your desk. The occasional chair and the round table serve as your guest seating area.

    And finally, to answer your original question: Glue velcro onto the divider, then glue or sew velcro onto some fabric and cover the solid areas of the divider with the fabric.

  • yborgal
    13 years ago

    I think having a divider on only one side of the room makes it look unbalanced and like you're trying to hide what's in the corner.

    What if you added a beam about 3' long to the ceiling on each side of the room, and paint it the ceiling color? Then attach fabric panels, gathered or pleated, to each beam with decorative hooks. It would hide what's on either side of your office space and still leave you a 6' opening.

    You wouldn't be blocking the light from the windows, but would get a sense of privacy.

  • no_green_thumb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks to all of you for you time and ideas! PaintChips, aren't husbands great with their "gifts". He was just so happy to give it to me, thinking that would help my day go better. Actually, it led to a less productive day as I spent more time in the bathroom listening to all of that running water!!!
    The ideas about an armoire are great. The only reservation I have about that is that I have my hands in the files every day. I need the two to the right of the desk and the two on the floor. I only use the printer against the wall for multiple copies, so not that often. I mostly use the one next to my desk as I can just reach down and grab the paper.
    Lucky and Graywings, yes I realize that it is a problem that I have not fully addressed the purpose of the room. My office was in the basement and one of my kids suggested moving it to the living room as "no one ever goes in there anyway". So I basically moved the desk upstairs, bought the screen and shoved the other stuff down. I no longer have the sofa that was in there - it was very old and although I had slipcovered it, it was still just old. I wish I could get rid of the organ. I don't play it and it hardly works. But my father bought that for me about 55 years ago and as long as my mother is still alive, it needs to stay.
    I do like the idea of turning the desk around. I look into the back yard now, but there are plenty of windows to look at other sights. It is a large room and ideally, I would create a wall between my office and the rest of the room and make two separate rooms. But I only plan to work about 3 or 4 more years ---
    I did get rid of the sofa and two end tables. I had way too many tables in there.
    You have all given me ideas to think about. Thanks again for your help.

  • teacats
    13 years ago

    I would search your local Craigs List -- and look for a large armoire or former TV cabinet. There are many many out there!

    That would create a focal point in the room and hold LOTS of office stuff.

    Check around with your friends too -- many folk are switching or have switching to a flat-screen and are looking for ways to get rid of TV cabinets.

    It could sit where the paino now sits -- and the piano could shift to the corner where the antique sewing cabinet now sits.

    Do create a family gallery -- have recent photos re-done in black-and-white and hang them all around those front walls. OR -- take all of the photos -- and create a family gallery on the wall above the sofa table (with a few sitting on the table)

    Just a thought!

  • Ideefixe
    13 years ago

    Rather than hide the work stuff, I'd plant my flag and declare the room my office. I'd look for an armoire on CL, as they're usually cheap (so many people got rid of their old media centers), and put the printer in that, with all of it's stuff (paper, ink, etc.) Same with a file cabinet or a lateral file that can be used like a credenza.

    Do you like looking at the monitor in front of the window? I have mine next to a window, but not right in front.

    You do work in this space, and I think it's silly to try to pretend you don't. Rather than camouflage the work materials, I'd look for furniture that would make the space more functional and your job easier.

  • Valerie Noronha
    13 years ago

    With a room of this size, I do think it is OK to combine it for two separate uses; however, I feel that the two uses are very different. As you say the room is seldom used except as an office, I'd let that be your guiding point in making this room both attractive and functional. What most doesn't seem to work in this space is the piano. Is there another spot you can put it?

    I think this room would be a great spot for a combination library/office with nice cozy armchairs, low tables and bookcases. I've seen some stunning living room/dining room makeovers into a reading room on this forum that are excelent examples in repurposing rooms to make it work for your lifestyle.

    Before ruling this out thinking it's outside of your budget, think about using craigslist. I just replaced all of my DD's bedroom furniture without spending a dime. I shopped Craigslist for the new look I envisioned and as I replaced the items, I was able to resell with we already had.

  • no_green_thumb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Teacats, several people have suggested an armoire - I know there are lots of them on Craigslist --- of course, the big problem would be moving it!
    LJ, a bench would be another idea.
    Idee and Val, your comments really have me thinking. Although I don't have buckets of money to spend (just bought all new furniture for my family room) - and DH thinks any money I spend would be a waste (but that's okay, I can seet talk him) ---- I agree with you and several who have basically said -- is it an office, a living room, a music room, what is it?
    I have had the organ since I was a child, never play and moved it here because my mother was tired of dusting it. So it has sat in this room for years and years, taking up space and collecting dust. It does have great sentimental value to me, but if it has no practical value, I need to ask myself why I am keeping it. I have always thought I would keep it because of my mother - now I am thinking, she gave it to me because she didn't want it!! There is no other place to put it.
    The room is so large, though, that it can have some double duty. I have seen the dining room, library combos - everyone here is so creative.
    Val, I remember reading the threads for your DD's room - amazing - and your living room a year or so ago. It is beautiful.
    While no one goes in here but me, I want it to look great. I want people who come in looking to the left to see a nice room - and as I contemplate this, all I see is a mish-mash of stuff. I am glad I didn't take pictures before I removed the sofa a two tables!!
    Does anyone else here have trouble parting with stuff, even though it no longer serves a useful purpose, but is still "good". Reflecting on it, I believe I do. Much of what is in this room has been around for 30 years. The antique sewing machine I pulled from the trash.
    I do like the idea of a combination of office and library-type room, a parlor of sorts. Two of my sons have purchased from Craigslist - I never have.
    I believe my next step would be to see what I want to remove, then what kind of floor plan I could come up with. Thanks again.

  • karinl
    13 years ago

    Not to disparage previous posters' advice, all of whom probably have far nicer homes than I have, but I would caution you against doing something that I excel at: making a project far bigger and more complicated than it needs to be and in the end not accomplishing your original objective.

    To me, it sounds as if the room works for you as it is now laid out, other than the fact that you don't actually need the organ and it doesn't look fabulous. Function seems like Job One to me, and for example putting your files in an armoire... been there, done that, and if you need your hands in there every day, the armoire option sucks. What you end up doing is sitting in your chair putting stuff on the floor or the printer "for the next time I get up anyway" and boom, that's the end of being organized.

    I do understand that it may really be time to make some changes, but I would suggest you keep your eyes on the prize as you decide what changes to make. And yes, I have TONS of trouble getting rid of stuff. But craigslist is a wonder for that, because you usually find really appreciative homes. I've sold a bit, but mostly just put it on for free. But one thing I am adamant about is that I do it when I'm ready, as I hate feeling pressured, having regrets, and second-guessing myself.

    If all you really need is a screen that you like, I'd give careful consideration to paint, or figuring out how it comes apart and using fabric or putting in a wallpapered panel. You could even smooth it with wall liner paper and wallpaper over as it is. Or just staple a piece of fabric over top of the bamboo, with trim over the edges. It's really a nice screen, and a great size. I always wish I had a spot for a screen, as they are the coolest things!

    The fountain suggests you have a prize in DH, maybe you can just leave it turned off!


  • patty_cakes
    13 years ago

    Here's a great idea my son did a few years ago in his tiny apartment. When you walked in the door, there wasn't a wall on either side, just right into the LR. He wanted to create somewhat of a foyer, so he used a bookcase as a wall~it was probably at least 7'. When you walked in the door, the back of the bookcase was facing you~we stained the back a dark color to match the bookcase(we originally had thought of using wallpaper). He hung a beautiful gold framed mirror, and a couple of smaller pictures. This left the shelf side facing the LR. He also hung a candle sconce on the side. It looked fantastic and had a dual purpose in creating a space he didn't have. ;o)

  • mary_lu_gw
    13 years ago

    Why not separate the two areas with bookcases as mentioned above? One on each side of the room, leaving the center area open. Face the bookcase side away from your office with the shelves toward the front of the room. You mentioned that you liked the idea of a library, well use the bookcases to make the front part of the room a library!

  • les917
    13 years ago

    I guess what really has been running through my head on this, as I have come back several times, is 'what is the real purpose of this room?"

    From what you have said, it seems that your purpose is to have an office. The rest of the items in the room are just there, because they fit okay or because, like the organ, they need a home.

    I think you need decide that this is your workspace, set it up rather than trying to hide it, and honor yourself and the work that you do by giving yourself a nicely decorated place to be.

    I would move the organ down to the corner where your files are all stacked, and put it on the diagonal there. Use one of the small electric lamps on it to bring light into that corner of the room.

    In the corner where the fountain is now, I would place the folding screen, which would balance the visual weight of the organ. However, I would paint that screen in a shade of the wall color. Then I would look for a comfy reading chair to place in front of it, with the round table beside it, a lamp on there. Use the screen as a place to hang all the small family photos you have everywhere, to create a collection.

    Next I would place the desk in the middle section of the room, facing outward from the wall where the organ currently sits.

    Using the console table as office equipment, I would place that against that wall, so it is behind the desk. Use that as the place for your printers, boom box and CDs, other misc. items, as well as the taller cream lamp. Use the table on which the files sit now in an "L" off the left side of the desk to hold the files.

    Consider looking at Craig's List for a filing cabinet that can contain all the files and put that next to the desk, on the left side as you sit, and get rid of the table and plastic file boxes.

    Take the two chairs and put them across from the desk, with the small drum table between them, and a lamp.

    Finally, I would look for a loveseat or smaller couch to put against the wall that is to your left when you walk into the room. Use the cabinet there as a table beside the seating.

    A large area rug that encompasses the desk and chairs would be nice.

    Then hang artwork, plates, etc.

  • no_green_thumb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    It's almost like Christmas morning!! I woke up to a many more gifts! Thank you.
    Karin, thank you for the insight. I absolutely love the idea of an armoire. It would be beautiful, but I do not think practical. I am in those files many, many times each day. The ones to the right of my desk are customer files, the rolling files on the floor hold a few more customer files plus other info I need access to.
    Patty and Mary, the bookcase idea sounds like a possible as well.
    Les, you have given me even something more to think about. Several others mentioned this as well -- purpose of this room. As I said, this is a center hall colonial. 20 years ago we added 5' to our family room and added a large sunroom on the back of that. Since that time (and even before that) the living room has just been for show, not function. Several years ago my sons suggested moving my office from the basement, where dry as it was, it was still a basement. I was so very reluctant, because after all I was going to disparage the living room. So I put the desk and files in and bought the screen. While a very large room, shoving everything down just made it worse, because now I had just moved the living room over to make room for the office.
    I recently got rid of the sofa and two tables. That was great. I had my family room furniture delivered and they would take away any used furniture for free and donate to a furniture bank. I had the sofa and a chair (37 years old). One of the men said he knew someone who could use it and asked if that was okay with me. It felt good because I knew it was going to be put to use. It was in perfect condition - I just didn't want it anymore.
    Anyway, this has all made me realize that this room is primarily an office and I should embrace that -
    I am going to start by moving things around. Thank you, Les. I do love the bookcase divider idea as well. I have been thinking of moving the desk anyway, as it is starting to "alligator" in the sun. My father brought this home from work many years ago and refinished it. I can still see his hands on it, so want to preserve it.

    Les, if you are still out there, --- you mentioned a loveseat to the left as you walk in the room. You cannot see well from the pictures, but there is a very large window there. I don't think I would want a large piece against the window.

    Thanks again to all who helped me. Now, I just need to break the news to my dear, dear husband that I have yet another "plan".

  • Ideefixe
    13 years ago

    Good for you! I think that claiming this room is the right idea. Even if you can't bring yourself to de-accession the organ right away, making a floor plan and making the room work for you is a great idea.

    And having your materials easily available for your work and a reading space to call your own is important.

    CL is usually packed with stuff, but if you've got an Ikea handy, their file cabinets are pretty decent looking.

  • no_green_thumb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Ideefixe, thanks for the pat on the back (or maybe the kick in the rump!) --- I want the room to look nice when viewing from the foyer and I would certainly think the desk could look nice.
    I have looked at it again, and it needs some refinishing, which should not be too difficult. I have slow time in the summer, so wouldn't get to it until then.
    The organ - still reminds me of my dad - he died suddenly when my first child was only two months old - he bought it for me when I was 7 - I hated lessons, hated practicing and he kept saying that one day I would regret not having learned - he is right. I would love to look into getting the "works" replaced. I don't know if that can be done. ---
    Anyway, part of me wants to get rid of it - and part doesn't so it needs to stay until all of me wants to part with it.
    I could make my work area nicer - don't need the TV - get a nicer lamp - block the other side of the monitor with something pretty ---
    And then do some rearranging. I feel somewhat like Rain Man in that I am so used to things in one exact spot that I don't want to move them. But I do know it needs to be done. The large printer is sitting on top of a filing cabinet that I barely use because it is so hard to access.

  • Valerie Noronha
    13 years ago

    You've received several great ideas here and sounds like you are on the right track. I like both the suggestion to section off your office with bookcases to either side and use the front portion for a library/reading room and the arrangment Les suggested. One aspect you did not discuss is your need for privacy and quiet while you work. Do you take business calls or work with other family members in the home who may disturb you? If so, then I'd lean towards option one since it puts you further from the entry and distractions. If not, then I'd take Les' arrangement as a starting point since it includes a spot for the organ. The suggestion of a loveseat by the window would be to balance out all of the wood with some upholstered pieces. If you pull out the loveseat 6" or so from the window it could still work. Plants also can help to soften up this space. I do think anchoring the arrangement with a nice rug as she had suggested will help as well.

    I do understand your concerns about having it look nice from the front door as I have a similar layout in my home with my living room. At various times over the years, I've thought if I ever need to repurpose my living room, I'd look into adding doors. I think some of the suggestions to frame in your space with bookcases could also work near the entry to the room. Could you please show us a view of the room from the front door?

  • no_green_thumb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    There is really no need for privacy - kids are gone. DH has his office in one of the upstairs bedrooms. That is something I could also do, but like the downstairs because I can start dinner, throw in some laundry, whatever.
    The first picture is a view standing in the foyer - so that is basically what anyone coming into my home would see. Is that what you meant -- or did you want to see something else??? So until I would get a loveseat, if I do - I would still need something in that corner. I am almost thinking of taking the top off of that sewing machine and putting a glass top on the base. The top is pretty beat up anyway, and it is not like a priceless antique! It was a curbside find!
    I know that one of the major problems in this room is too much wood.
    I also then want to looking into repainting as well as new window treatments. I do like the openness and would probably not opt for draperies, but something different. Not sure yet - lots of ideas floating around in my head.