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I live in a 1300sqft apartment that I rent, and due to the layout do not really use part of the really large living room. To address this and create a separate space, I'd like to have some sort of visual separation of about 6-7 feet wide.

I've considered buying furniture, such as shelving units or whatever. The problem with that approach is that I'd own yet MORE furniture (where I live, 99% of the rental market comes furnished and having my own furniture is a nuisance), plus I don't really have a need for any storage space.

So my thoughts now are that I want to build a wall of some sort. Tile floor to 9-ft plywood ceiling, at a 90-degree angle to an existing wall. No crown molding, but there is skirting. Building a frame and sticking drywall to it won't be a big issue. However, how do I 'attach' the wall to the existing surfaces without damaging those surfaces and still have it look tidy and like it belongs.

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    Thanks for the comment. I've updated the original post. It's just a visual separation and the wall will be about 6-7 ft wide, and 9-ft tall. Jan 28 at 5:38
  • That’s a really wide wall, but how long will it be - the height is clear.
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 28 at 5:49
  • Sorry, I think what you mean by length is what I've called the width :-D Jan 28 at 5:57
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I'd seriously consider a Byōbu, more commonly known as a "Japanese folding screen wall". Something like this:

enter image description here
The first decent example picture I found happened to be from etsy

You don't have to purchase one (finding one for your 9-foot ceilings may be difficult). However the "folding" aspect - i.e. the zig-zag footprint will allow it to stand on its own.

You can cover the "panels" with drywall, fabric, paneling, or whatever suits your mood. The advantage is that you don't have to attach it to the floor or ceiling and, therefore, won't cause damage to the rental that will need to be repaired before you move out or risk losing your damage deposit.

Since you're willing to spend the money on lumber & drywall and dispose of it when you move out, there won't be any significant additional "disposable" cost in building the wall this way instead.

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  • This or bookcases, and since you said no bookcases, this. If you build a wall, you'll end up owning THAT, and they are a heck of a lot harder to move out of an apartment than bookcases or a folding screen.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 28 at 14:13
  • Yeah, @Ecnerwal. I'm thinking a "disposable" folding screen wall, custom built to the ceiling height (since that's what the OP seems to want). Of course, a 6-7' tall screen may be sufficient since this will stand on its own, and the only reason for floor-to-ceiling may have been to attach it so it didn't fall over...
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28 at 14:33
  • good idea but that one is probably 1k+
    – DMoore
    Jan 28 at 16:58
  • Possible, @DMoore, however that's dependent on market, so pricing isn't necessarily accurate. Additionally, a zig-zag wall wouldn't be substantially more expensive (especially if shorter than the full floor-to-ceiling the OP was planning), so it's probably still in the range he was planning on spending. Ergo, irrelevant to the discussion.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28 at 17:07
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If the objective is purely visual separation, a fabric barrier would work. One approach would be to use the spring loaded poles used to create temporary plastic film walls as dust barriers in construction areas.

White linen, muslin or similar could either achieve a bit of Japanese aesthetic. A bedsheet of the right pattern might look ok, and the poles could slide into the hemmed ends.

Zipwall is one brand, pictured here.

zipwall poles with plastic sheeting

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Wait... buying a shelving unit is a nuisance. You buy it, then when you move out you sell it used...

Opposed to spending hours building a "wall", huge mess, materials, and so on... great chance of damaging apartment... then you have to demo it before you leave and throw it away - all needing to be done without damaging existing area. Building something that is stable without damaging existing area is possible but nearly impossible to be done and look good.

Just google/craigslist "office dividers". In almost all areas these are being given away - also if you have a "restore" (used building supply store) they have these too. Your best bet is find something on craigslist and then resell it or give it away once you move.

The problem with building anything is that it would need to be EXTREMELY bottom heavy to be stable and not drill into ceiling or walls.

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  • I do like your suggestion, even though OP said he didn't want more bookshelves. Your suggestion is elegant and makes sense. I haven't priced 'em used, but companies are pretty darn proud of their commercial office space wall systems, often at over $1000 per panel, even for 3-4' tall ones!
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28 at 17:09
  • @FreeMan - I wouldn't get it new - these things are all over for almost free in my area - since offices are being converted to other spaces. You can pick up a 8 foot folding wall - 4 feet high - at about $50. I see them scattered at our local restore.
    – DMoore
    Jan 28 at 17:49
  • Wow! That's cheap!! (But, at only 4', may not be tall enough for OP). At least he knows what's available.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28 at 18:17
  • @FreeMan - they are cheaper at restore... not in horrible shape. So many office buildings getting renovated for something else where I am at. Office furniture, desks, dividers, everything is super cheap.
    – DMoore
    Jan 28 at 19:57
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Look in your lease to see if an aquarium is allowed. This could make a beautiful room divider!!! A relaxing scene, a conversation piece and a bit of nature. To see what people are putting in their tanks, search for "aquascaping".

Freshwater or saltwater, there are tons of options Same for the cabinets. A good place to get started is Aquarium Co-op videos in you tube. Or your local fish store can set one up for you and even do the maintenance.

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Have you considered some kind of feature hanging from the ceiling?

Give that this is a rental property, something like floor to ceiling drapes might be a more temporary solution to divide the room and only require minimal repairs when you leave the property.

You can also get specific "panels" designed to be hung from the ceiling to provide a visual barrier in rooms if fabric isn't your style.

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