These $75 IKEA Curtains Might Be the Chicest Room Divider We’ve Ever Seen

updated Nov 30, 2020
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Curtain as a divider in Megan Hopp's apartment

I strongly believe apartment dwellers are some of the most creative people out there. Between working with less-than-ideal fixtures and finishes to adjusting to quirky layouts and tight spaces, learning to make the most of what you have is the name of the game in apartment living. The good news though is all of those design roadblocks can lead to some major interior creativity, especially when it comes to dividing up or closing off a fairly open space. Adding a little privacy into the equation is something many WFH-ers might still be struggling with right now, and New York City-based designer Megan Hopp came up with a pretty ingenious solution that actually looks intentional and stylish.

Hopp herself was looking for some semblance of separation in her own apartment without sacrificing the sunlight coming into her space—or her aesthetic—for that matter. “My apartment is railroad style and aside from the front door, the only other actual door is to the bathroom,” she says. “The kitchen, common space, and bedroom are all separated by a series of archways. Because of the narrow layout, the bedroom has the only source of natural light [from windows], which in turn shoots through the rest of the apartment.”

She knew she and her husband would want that archway open during the day and have a privacy option for the evenings, especially if one person wanted to wind down earlier than the other. Finding a pretty-meets-practical solution to this dilemma led her to IKEA, where she invested $300 in four panels of velvet drapes that completely transformed her space and fit in with her self-described “sophisticated, colorful, circus-performative” home decor style.

Hopp had a pretty large opening and wanted her door/divider to be double-sided (more on that below), but places with smaller openings might be able to get away with fewer sets of panels. You can also try this kind of a room divider solution in a space without a doorway or archway if you use a tension rod for your drapery instead of something that requires mounting hardware.

Credit: IKEA

To execute her ingenious idea, Hopp first hung a curved curtain rod from Crate & Barrel on the bedroom-side of her arched opening. “I favor the look of a curved rod in general, but it’s also far more functional for privacy purposes than a straight rod,” says Hopp. The reason: The rounded corners on the rod bring the curtain edges right to the wall, preventing the annoying light leak typically created by straight rods. 

Another project essential? Sturdy drapery rings, which Hopp calls “the key to life” when maneuvering heavy curtains on the reg and avoiding catching them on the rod. From there, she hung the drapery, attaching two panels back to back for each side so both the living room and bedroom got a pop of bold yellow and a “finished” appearance. Yes, this will cost you double, but this simple tweak makes a big difference in how this hack turns out. Choosing velvet curtains also provides more of a luxe look than a sheer or thin fabric will, which helps to ensure your curtain partition or room divider doesn’t read as a cheap, temporary solution.

The end result is a simple yet dramatic room divider or door alternative that feels so thoughtful design-wise, you almost forget it has an actual purpose. The yellow stands up to the bold blue wallpaper and trim in the living room, while injecting the otherwise neutral bedroom (pictured above) with a dose of happy energy.

Hopp’s advice for apartment dwellers everywhere? Invest in making your space work for life—and reflect your personality—no matter how temporary it may be. “Creating a good space changes everything, and when it comes to money, so much of what you spend on can be transferred to the next space,” says Hopp. “The thing that is really fun about designing a rental is that it’s an opportunity to try out things you’re curious about or are #goodenough, as I say, because you aren’t making hugely expensive final decisions about your forever home.”