5 Flea Market Finds to Repurpose as Freestanding Room Dividers

Make Your Own Inexpensive Room Dividers and Screens

Vintage 1960's room divider bookcase
"Walnut Room Divider 2" by urbandwellersrva / CC BY 2.0

Freestanding room dividers are ideal if you move frequently -- or if you just enjoy rearranging and reconfiguring your existing space. Because they’re not attached to any part of the structure, you can move them from space to space as often as you like. And, you can use them in your rental without putting your deposit at risk.

1. Old Doors

Hinge three or more doors together to make a simple freestanding room divider.

You can use old salvaged doors, French doors, or the narrow panels used for bifold doors. Fasten your doors together with double-acting hinges for the greatest flexibility. You’ll be able to swing the doors in either direction.

Perk up plain flat panel doors with molding, chalkboard paint, decoupage, or paint them with a mural. Old paneled doors are decorative without adding decorations. You can leave the original finishes intact, paint them all the same, or paint each door with a different vivid color.

Leave the glass on French doors bare if you want lots of light to pass through. Frost the glass or curtain it if you need privacy. For the latter, choose curtains shirred at the tops and bottoms and attach them to the doors with cafe rods.

2. Salvaged Shutters

Old shutters are another option for making a room divider that doubles as a folding screen.

Louvered shutters with their original chipping paint look particularly charming in rustic and cottage style interiors.

You can use matching shutters, or opt for a mix of different colors, styles, and heights.

As with room dividers made from doors, hinge your collection of salvaged shutters together using double-acting hinges. 

3. Bamboo Stalks

Visit your flea market’s import booths for thick stalks of cut-and-dried bamboo for a nature-inspired room divider.

Room dividers made from bamboo stalks work well with numerous decorating styles ranging from contemporary to exotic.

Cluster the bamboo stalks in a long, narrow planter or wooden box. Hold the stalks in place by filling the planter with sand or small pebbles.

For a high-end look with the feel of designer room dividers (like those made from driftwood or tree branches), drill holes in a long, narrow block of wood.  Make the holes just slightly larger than the bamboo stalks. Paint the wooden base with glossy black or white paint. Then, place a stalk of bamboo in each hole and secure it with glue.

4. Bookcases

Numerous catalog stores offer open-backed bookcases that double as room dividers. Get a similar look for less using a secondhand bookcase or entertainment center. Single bookcases usually aren’t wide enough to serve as room dividers, so keep your eye out for a double or triple bookcase.

When you locate a piece that might work, make sure it’s deep enough to sit securely in the center of a room without toppling. If it’s not, you may be able to secure it to the floor or an adjoining wall, depending on its placement within your space.

If the back is made from flimsy cardboard or chipboard and doesn’t provide any support to the bookcase, feel free to remove it for an open, double-sided effect.

If you can’t safely remove the bookcase back, or if you want it intact for privacy, dress up the back with paint, wallpaper, or vintage drapery panels. Then, treat it as a wall and hang artwork on it.

5. Architectural Columns

When you salvage old columns to use as a room divider, you’re also adding architectural interest to your room. 

Place four or more columns in a row to create the effect of a separate space. Opt for matching columns for a traditional or formal look. Use a mix of different sizes and styles for an eclectic effect. 

If you’re using tall columns, consider fastening the individual columns to a shared wooden base, especially if you have children or pets. Paint the base to match the columns or stain it to blend with your hardwood floor.