Ideas for Partitioning a Room to Save On Heating Costs
December 14, 2011 3:44 AM   Subscribe

Anybody have ideas for a how to partition our living room from our kitchen to conserve heat/energy? But in a cheap yet stylish way? Opening between the two rooms is about 10-14 feet wide (image a normal doorway about seven times the width, maybe the size of a small garage door)

We spend most of our time in the living room, and would love just to be able to run a radiator/heater to heat JUST that room, which we can't really do efficiently right now because it connects to the rest of the house via a large entryway that spills into the kitchen (and is about 10 feet wide).

Is there an inexpensive (but not completely ugliful way) to block out this opening? I was thinking curtains, but maybe this isn't very heat-saving.

If it makes a difference, the living room is carpeted, the kitchen is not. There is a thin metal plate that separates the two floors (not sure what this is called).

The opening is about four inches wide all around (the width of the wall). It is just smooth plaster all along the edges.

Your creativity appreciated!
posted by The ____ of Justice to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would just hang a curtain rod from the ceiling and get some thick curtains (think velveteen) that go all of the way to the floor.
posted by that girl at 3:53 AM on December 14, 2011

That's probably the cheapest and easiest suggestion. Another option or look is the Ikea Anno series of room dividers/curtains, but it looks like they're ca. 2 feet wide and stacking up a row of them for an opening that wide might or might not fit your aesthetic (or technical capabilities, installing it all).

Last thing I can think of is shoji screens. You can get some nice ones super-cheap at Overstock .com. I got some to hide some shelving and stuff for my mudroom, which is the main entry to the house. One suggestion there--I ended up getting two screens of different sizes/widths from the same manufacturer, nominally in the same color, but the actual color is noticeably different. So if you go this route and need more than one screen, get two of the same size in hopes of getting the same color lot.

Good luck and stay warm!
posted by Sublimity at 4:01 AM on December 14, 2011

Seconding a thick blackout-style curtain, which has the advantage over something more solid like a sliding closet-style door in that you can just take it down over the summer.
posted by holgate at 4:03 AM on December 14, 2011

seconding the curtains. You might also consider getting insulated curtains - the backside of these things are usually extremely ugly so maybe get 2x the curtains needed and back them with each other with Velcro so you'll be able to disconnect them and wash them later and you will need to wash them due to the proximity to the kitchen.
Also, get them 2-3 inches longer than you need to cut off drafts.
posted by jaimystery at 4:06 AM on December 14, 2011

Curtains will definitely make a difference. If you hang a curtain - which is what we did - make it long enough to touch the floor so it doesn't sway. Surprisingly, the temperature difference will create a 'breeze' between the colder and warmer rooms and your curtains will constantly move if they aren't touching the floor. Seconding the insulted curtain style. A single layer isn't attractive or as effective.

You might consider insulating your living room floor from below. What kind of insulation do you have on the ceiling below your living room floor? Is that your basement or do you live in an apartment? Rolled, pink insulation is a good investment and also seals in heat.
posted by birdwatcher at 4:26 AM on December 14, 2011

What about this IKEA hack with sliding doors?
posted by tel3path at 4:45 AM on December 14, 2011

I made my own sliding door for a very badly insulated front door that was set off in a very small foyer type thing; just a big piece of panelling; the standard size at home depot/lowes is 4 feet by 8 feet. I live in a rental so I couldn't do anything too permanent, so I bought a length of this edging/molding stuff and attached it to the ceiling and with the carpet, that made enough of a track to keep it in place. That's what I'd do with an opening that wide. You'd need like four of them, overlapping on the edges, but only one would need to move so you could go in and out of the kitchen.

Another option might be foam insulation sheets. They're big (either two or four feet wide), about two or three inches thick, and have edges that fit together. Of course, they're also blue and ugly, so you would probably want to still block them with a curtain. Unless the opening is over 8 feet tall, you could cut them to fit into the opening and then hang a curtain to hide them; leave off one at the edge so you have a door to go into the kitchen, and the curtain would still be blocking your heat loss there.
posted by lemniskate at 5:51 AM on December 14, 2011

I did the curtain thing. I used a regular rod and curtain clips like these. For my curtain, I used a solid-color bed sheet that matched the room and backed it with a clear shower curtain to keep the warmth in. It was very cheap (got the supplies at the overstock/discount store- Big Lots). Because we used a clear shower curtain, we could pin up a corner of the solid curtain so the dogs & cat wouldn't slam into each other when trying to get to the back door.
posted by dogmom at 6:10 AM on December 14, 2011

Even quite thin curtains constrain room-to-room air movement enough to make for very noticeable energy savings. Just put a bit of weight in the bottom hem (maybe some lightweight jack chain) so they don't phoof about.
posted by flabdablet at 7:24 AM on December 14, 2011

I'm always on the lookout for weird blankets at thrift stores for this. Found some hilarious ones in the past, with tigers on it and stuff.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 7:49 AM on December 14, 2011

lemniskate writes "Another option might be foam insulation sheets. They're big (either two or four feet wide), about two or three inches thick, and have edges that fit together. Of course, they're also blue and ugly, so you would probably want to still block them with a curtain."

Insulating foam board, especially 80+ square feet worth, is a toxic hazard in a fire. Building code requires it to be covered with fire resistant material like gyproc because of that.

Having said that if you are willing to deal with large slabs of ridged material you can often buy interior slab door seconds at big home improvement borgs for $10 each. Smooth doors will look like a wall and panelled doors will look like, well, panelling. You can mount them in bifold or double sliding tracks or use regular hinges to form a self supporting system similar to a dividing screen. Or even simple lengths of 1x4 mounted at right angles to the bottom of the doors to make them self supporting.
posted by Mitheral at 6:57 PM on December 14, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks so much everybody. If it gets colder this year as predicted, we'll probably do the curtains. I like the idea of panels too, but it might be a bit too much DIYing for the moment.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:31 AM on December 16, 2011

« Older If you can keep your head when all about you are...   |   What led to your artistic breakthroughs? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.