Dividing a Room

Shoji screens or curtains can create private spaces for two or more kids
By ClubMom Decorating Expert Lauri Ward

The high cost of housing has forced many people to stay where they are instead of moving to larger quarters after they have children.

When this happens, the space that is most often compromised is the bedroom(s) of the youngest members of the family. Sharing the same bedroom is not a problem for children of the same sex, but when it’s a girl and a boy who are approaching adolescence, each child needs to have a private space.

The usual solution is to divide a bedroom. If the master bedroom provides a lot more square footage and it is not too much of a sacrifice, parents might consider switching rooms and dividing the larger one for their kids.

Instead of putting up a permanent wall, Japanese shoji screens might be a better choice. Built wall-to-wall, shojis have several benefits:

* Unlike solid, sheet-rocked walls, these lightweight wood and rice paper panels can be removed easily and reused in another room or home.

* Shojis allow light to filter through in case there are windows on only one side of the bedroom. It is also possible to install window-like sections of screen that open and close to allow for the circulation of air conditioning and heating.

* Entire panels can be made to slide, exposing the whole room for a more spacious feeling when desired.

* For durability, you can opt for sturdy fiberglass panels rather than the more delicate rice paper. And fiberglass also cleans easily.

* Shoji screens are available in a natural, light wood, or black satin lacquered wood, or they can be painted to match the walls.

Another quick and inexpensive option is to hang curtains from wall to wall on the ceiling to divide a room. This will create the effect of two separate spaces, but it will not allow the natural light to pass through the fabric as easily as the shojis.

Whatever you can do to provide your children with greater privacy as they mature, the more they will appreciate the fact that you are showing that you understand and respect their need for a space of their own.

© Lauri Ward, 2006.

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