How to Divide a Long Narrow Room
Whether you call it a shotgun room, a cracker box or a bowling alley, space planning for a long, narrow room can be a challenge, especially if you want to use it for more than one purpose. If the room has inadequate light, the task becomes even more difficult because you don't want your dividers to block the natural light. Sketch out the room on grid paper and experiment with possible floor plans before investing your time or money in dividers that won't may not work for your room.
Place area rugs in the room to designate the different zones and visually divide the space without putting up physical barriers. For example, if you want to use the first section of the room for watching television, the second as a dining space and the third as an office, place three rugs of appropriate size in the space. De-emphasize the long, narrow space by grouping furniture on and around the rugs, instead of pushing everything against the walls.
Divide the room in half with lighting effects. Install two side-by-side rows of track lighting in the center of the ceiling (running across the width) fill each row with a different shade of colored bulbs. Point the lights down and out so the light bounces off their opposing wall and/or other interesting elements on that side of the room. Keep the effect subtle by choosing pastel bulbs in light colors and include plenty of traditional white lights or go bold with bulbs that cast a saturated hue.
Divide the long walls in half or thirds with paint. Tape off the sections you want to create with painter's tape and apply a different color in each section to demarcate the spaces. Use lighter and darker shades of the same color or create a graphic look by painting the middle section a bright color and the sides white. Apply the same technique to both long walls for symmetry.
Place an open book case at a 90-degree angle to the wall where you want to divide the space. This will help de-emphasize the "bowling alley" look of a long narrow room by creating a break in the length. Stagger two or three book cases on opposite walls to create even more division in an extremely long room. Use one side of the case as a short wall to place furniture against and display books and art on the other,.
Position a decorative room divider or two in the space. Experiment with angling the dividers against the wall anywhere from 10 to 90 degrees for different affects. Hang beaded curtains or vintage window frames -- minus the glass -- from the ceiling if you don't want to block the light or view.
- Make an easy hanging room divider by stapling lengths of rope from a 1-inch-by-1-inch board and attach the board to the ceiling. Change the look of the project to fit your decor by using natural twine, thick white rope, silk string or strips of torn fabric.
- Install hanging room dividers by screwing them directly into studs or use anchor screws for safety.
Jo Burns has been a freelance writer since 1980. She specializes in articles relating to home and garden, alternative health care, travel, writing and crafting. In 2007, Burns received an M.F.A. in creative writing.
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