Separating children is often necessary. There's no better way to settle jurisdictional and property conflicts than by resettling children in separate rooms.
But then, there are those of us who do not have the luxury of these individual habitats. For their children, and mine, new solutions must be devised to preserve peace and harmony, at least for mom.
The most drastic separator is the movable wall. It is efficient, sound-proof, for the most part, and easy to maintain (especially one made of rugged vinyl), but it is also expensive.
A second drawback to movable walls is that most of them look about as appropriate in a child's room as a copier machine would look in a drawing room.
But don't give up. There are ways to divide children that will give them -- and you -- visual and acoustical privacy within the confines of a single room.
One of my tried and true favorites, the low divider wall. These are, indeed, made for offices in the "open landscape" design most professionals are suggesting today. Designed to provide greater flexibility by being easily movable, as well as maximizing light, air and heat, these low dividers can provide the same thing for your children as they might for two secretaries or executives sharing a single space. They are available in a whole rainbow of colors and finishes and varied heights and widths, so a trip to your nearest office or furniture dealer will help solve your privacy and jurisdictional problems without leaving a huge hole in your pocketbook.
Of course, you can make your own divider if you're handy. Using 1-by-4 construction, simply build a low wall, anchor it to an adjacent right angle wall and cover the space on each side with masonite, homosote, or dry wall, painting or wallpapering the surfaces in any fashion that works with the rest of the room.
Another option is the storage-divider that provides privacy and creates a useable barrier between two children. I used this system to divide two young boys who would gladly have torn each other limb from limb had they had to share an undivided room.
I used modular pieces of unpainted furniture, an inexpensive investment, and built my "wall" three modules high and three wide, making a wall 18 inches deep by 90 inches wide by 7 feet high. The windows were too close together to accommodate the depth of the new wall, so I let the divider "float" in the room, unattached to any wall, but easy enough to place flat against an adjacent right-angle wall for even more privacy.
The depth is ample for storing clothes in the drawers for cupboards, to provide a desk with a drop-front at either end for each child on his own side and open shelves, shared back to front, for books, games and stereo.
To make the furniture work, I painted everything in white, high-gloss enamel -- the same as the window trim and the painted shutters at the bottom half of the windows.
I covered the back of the cupboard unit on each side with homosote, an inexpensive building material you can purchase in 4-by-8-foot sheets. It converts into a handy tackboard for souvenirs, snapshots, or funny birthday cards.
The bed platform for each boy is painted white to match, with terry cloth bedspreads in the same deep blue as the walls. Bright green posture chairs on casters and a quilted green, white and blue rainbow-design spread over each bed contrast with the new divider.