News & Politics

2004 Kids Rooms: Sharing Space With Siblings

Colors, canopies, curtains, and other tricks for dividing a bedroom in two.

Sharing Spaces

Kids don't want to share a room. As they get older, the complaints get louder.

You can keep protests to a dull roar with dividing lines that protect their privacy and personalities.

Here are hints for making life easier:

* Younger siblings might not mind matching comforters, but most teens do. Instead of trying to find one pattern they agree on, let teens pick their own bedding.

* Consider reverse color schemes on either side of the dividing line.

* Try separate area rugs that coordinate with each color scheme.

* A canopy over a bed creates a defined space. Or extend it beyond the bed to embrace the surrounding area.

* Door curtains work just as well when hung down the middle of a room, especially a couple side by side. Consider the Linia curtain by New York-based Lampa (, which is offered in colored grosgrain ribbon. Or hang Horchow's Disc Curtain of playful pastel dots for $60 (

* Try beads, string lights, or use roll-up window shades for room dividers. Or string together those free CD-ROMs that come in the mail–fishing line won't show–to create a fun, reflective partition. You can build a partition from corrugated plastic, fabric-covered fiberboard, even sheet metal. Check out the do-it-yourself shelves at the bookstore for how-to primers like Making & Decorating Stylish Screens: 30 Beautiful Projects.

* Shop for ready-made paneled room dividers made from wicker, unfinished wood, glass, rice paper, or even the cubicle partitions used in offices. Target sells a variety, many for less than $100.

* Dressers can be positioned as partitions. Other options: modular cubby systems and two-sided bookcases, which let light pass through.

*Standard bookcases work fine. Paint the backs with chalkboard or magnetic paint or cover with corkboard, fiberboard, or fabric. Stand side-by-side, one facing each way, to give both teens a bookcase and memo station.

*Though it looks like a room divider, Ikea's Dunker (, $32.99) is a large, wall-shaped floor lamp. A washable white fabric shade fits snugly over the lamp's steel frame, measuring 21/2 feet wide and four feet tall. Connect three units to create a divider that dims.