How to Build a Floor to Ceiling Room Divider

A large open-plan room or a tiny studio might benefit from a floor-to-ceiling room divider to create privacy or mark areas for separate functions in an apartment. Build a “custom” unit that migrates when you move or decide to curtain off a different section of the space. Pre-fab bookshelves and a sturdy curtain rod are all you need to add an instant bedroom or a study to your home.

Ceiling-height bookshelves provide storage, display and privacy.

Step 1

Position two unfinished wood bookcases next to each other in the location for the room divider. Measure the distance from the top of the cases to the ceiling — you should use bookcases that are almost ceiling height if you want the divider to reach the ceiling.

Step 2

Purchase crown molding to run around the top edge of the bookcases. Use the distance from the top of the bookshelves to the ceiling to determine the size of the molding. Have the lumberyard or hardware store cut the lengths of molding to fit the front, back and two sides of the cases when they are side-by-side. Ask them to miter the corners -- cut the wood on an angle so it meets cleanly at the corners.

Step 3

Secure the bookcases together with flat metal braces on the back where the two units meet. Position the braces about one-third down and one-third up from the top and bottom of the bookcases and screw them in place. The braces will be hidden later by the tapestry.

Step 4

Attach the crown molding, fitting it together neatly in the corners where it is mitered. First, run a line of wood glue along the underside of the molding. Then nail the molding along the top edge of the bookcases and both sides. Allow the glue to dry.

Step 5

Paint or stain the bookcase “wall” and finish it with a coat of clear lacquer. When the final lacquer coat is dry, screw a decorative curtain rod on the back of the bookcases, using a carpenter’s level to make sure it is even. Hang a tapestry long enough to cover both back braces from the curtain rod. You now have a room divider that is a library on one side and wall art on the other.


  • Freestanding furniture -- even when it is weighted down by books -- may not be a safe choice in a home with very active children or in an earthquake-prone area. Under those circumstances, you may want to consider floor-to-ceiling curtains to divide a room.
Continue Reading