Privacy. It’s a basic human need that often, and frustratingly, doesn’t get fulfilled. Talking to you here, dorms and roommates, where privacy in a room becomes just a distant dream.
Yes, we all want to have a private space where you get to work or relax in peace. Just tune out the world.
Until your roommate comes home or decides to use your open space kitchen. Banging pots and curious glances don’t exactly induce a comfortable or focused mindset.
And, again, don’t get me started on dorms. I’ve lived with three roommates in one shoebox of a room sharing only one closet. I’ve seen hell.
Fun fact, according to the NAHB, giving open spaces more definition is one of the latest trends in interior design. So your need to have a defined safe space is completely on trend. Your open space apartment has to learn to adapt to your needs. And this includes your need for privacy, a quiet office space, craft room, reading nook, or sleeping space.
So before you start pulling your hair out and planning your sweet revenge, here are 19 ingenious ideas that will give you privacy in a small room.
Five questions to answer before looking at room privacy ideas
Before we focus on how to create a sense of privacy in a dorm room and small spaces as a whole, there are some things you need to consider.
Awareness is your best friend when adding new things to a small space.
So in order to avoid adding clutter or throwing money away on something you won’t use, there are five things you need to consider before cashing in on any room privacy solution:
- Available space – how much floor or ceiling space are you dealing with? Best of all, measure out your room to see if the privacy option you’ve landed on even fits into your room. Yeah, having some privacy is great but not if you need to shimmy around stuff to get to it.
- Functionality – can this item be more functional than it is? A room divider is great. But if you live in a small apartment, a room divider that doubles as a bookshelf is even better.
- Color scheme – does it visually fit in with the color scheme of the room? Dealing with color schemes is tough, especially if you collect furniture overtime or try to stay on the budget. On the other hand, you don’t want you newest purchase to stand out like a sore thumb. So keep an eye on the predominant colors in your room and add stuff that will complement them.
- Budget – how much are you willing to spend? This goes hand in hand with the next position on this list.
- Temporariness – is this a temporary or a long-term solution? Look, if you are temporarily living with someone then there’s no need to buy something outrageously expensive. This rings especially true for dorm rooms. Chances are, you won’t need your privacy screen once you get your own place.
Just answering these five questions will give you a good idea of what you’re looking for.
So here’s how you create privacy in a dorm room or a small space.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking a link like that, I’ll earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) to feed the bottomless pit that is my cat.
Create temporary interior walls with these modular plastic bricks
Everblock is a modular system of oversized building blocks. It’s like LEGO blocks but instead of building superhero action figures that will be collecting dust on the shelf, you get to build furniture and walls.
You can use these building blocks to quickly carve out a quiet secluded place for your privacy needs. In the image below you can see a small office room being built in a matter of a day. So if you were looking for a way to build temporary interior walls without nails and hammers being involved, the Ever block system is it.
The 4 types of building blocks can be stacked together without any tools. They can be disassembled and transported to a new location at any time. So even if you buy them for your dorm room, you can later take it with you to your first apartment. Mix and match 4 types of blocks, including finishing caps, to create durable but portable room dividers.
Plus, they come in 15 colors so you can easily match them to your color scheme. Better yet, use them to mix things up and introduce new vibrant colors to your room.
Set up a stunning accent piece with these double-sided Van Gogh screen room dividers
Vincent Van Gogh needs no introduction. His ability to merge colors and brush strokes is unmatched, still evoking fascination to this day. Even if you are not interested in the neo-impressionism movement of the late XIX century, you can’t deny one thing.
Having a room divider with Van Gogh’s timeless masterpieces will be transformative for your apartment. And you get a combination of a privacy room divider and a piece of art. Talk about functionality.
These unique room dividers are reversible, so you get two pictures with one divider. You can reverse the divider occasionally when the mood strikes or match it to seasonal makeovers and color schemes. You can even work out a system with your roommates where one picture means “busy” and the other one means “stay out or there will be consequences”.
Each room divider is 6′ tall with four panels. Apart from giving you privacy, the opaque surface can block out the sun or hide an unmade bed with a pile of clothes on top when you get unexpected visitors.
Sleep and study in private with this tent that goes over your bed
Create a safe space in your dorm room by outfitting your bed with a tent. By installing this privacy bed tent you’ll get a secluded area for sleeping, naptime (the adult version of happy hour), studying, working, or just taking a break. It comes with doors on both sides and mesh windows that can all be zipped shut.
Designed to work with your existing mattress and bed frame, it comes in 8 sizes ranging from twin to king. It fits on futons, spring coil, foam or air beds.
If the mood strikes you, the tent can be also kept on the floor. Think of it as a blanket fort on demand with no cleaning afterward.
The bed tent material can also to reduce ambient light. So no more waking up from the scorching sun trying to melt your face.
Stop anyone in the room from spying on your internet activity with this Laptop Privacy Screen
Don’t you just hate it when someone peeks at your laptop over your shoulder?
Privacy is not only a matter of having four walls around you. It is also about being able to do whatever you want on your laptop in peace without anyone sneaking glances at it.
This privacy laptop filter creates a total “blackout” for those who look at the screen from any side. So you see everything clearly while the peepers see black. You can find this filter in dozens of sizes and aspect ratios. The instructional videos on the listings can help you make the right choice.
Easily attach this reusable filter using either attachment strips or sliding tabs. This will come in handy not only at home but in public areas as well. No one in the coffee shop needs to know what you’re writing there.
The privacy laptop screen is also reversible, with a glossy option on one side and matte option on the other. But be warned that it’s not touch-compatible.
Leave “keep out” notes for your roommates on this chalkboard room divider
Or write daily reminders, recipes, to-do lists, or notes. You can even get a pack of colorful chalk and start drawing anything that comes to mind. This will not only add warmth to your apartment but will also help you reduce stress.
This useful privacy room divider stands at 6 feet tall with 4 panels. It will do a stellar job of dividing a small space for privacy and giving you a place to doodle.
Create a separate room in your studio apartment using Ikea’s PAX closet doors
This blog is filled with every IKEA hack you can imagine. Basically, people find ways to repurpose or use IKEA furniture in a more creative way than intended. This tutorial shows how to make a moving wall out of IKEA’s PAX closet doors. It’s a mix between sliding doors and a privacy room divider. And it is as brilliant as it sounds.
So if you have a perfect nook for a bedroom or an office and all it lacks is walls, this is a must-read tutorial for you. Not going to lie, it is a bit complicated. But as someone who slept in a bed facing an open space kitchen, I can surely say it’s worth the hassle.
Lower your heating bills with this cozy room-in-room bed tent
Yet another bed tent, this one sets its priorities outright. Not only giving you privacy on-demand, this bed tent also aims to lower your heating bills. Or save you from yet another cold.
Perfect for hiding in on a chilly winter day, the poly-cotton blend fabric will keep the warmth inside the tent. So if fuzzy socks are not doing it for you and need your alone time, this is the perfect room privacy idea.
But that’s not all. The tent has several mesh holders for your phone, laptop, or notebook. Looks like a perfect setup for preparing for the finals in peace and warmth.
Organize your life while establishing some privacy using this Don’t Look At Me room divider
If you love keeping your things close, this divider was made for you. One side of the divider is completely flat. However, on the reverse side, you will find 10 storage pockets. Different in size, you can stuff these pockets with anything from notebooks and glasses to binders and a tablet.
The 34” X 73” is large enough to give you some privacy in a college room or otherwise. Plus, you get to keep your most important stuff in hand’s reach, eliminating clutter and keeping you organized.
Use these curtain room dividers as an elegant privacy solution in an open space apartment
Add softness and texture to your open space by installing one of these curtain room dividers. They not only look gorgeous but also give you a lot of options.
First, you get to choose the hanging system. The privacy curtain above is mounted on a tension rod (sold separately). It virtually requires no installation, like with a shower curtain. And it’s a perfect choice for dorm rooms or rented apartments.
This room dividing curtain above hangs on a freestanding base. Again, great choice for places where drilling holes in the ceiling or walls is not welcome. Just be mindful that with a base like this you’ll need additional floor space. But it is highly portable, chic, and can serve as a backdrop for photographers or streamers.
The last but not least option is a hanging rod. Mounted right on the ceiling, these hanging rod and curtain kits can cover spaces from 3 to 25 ft wide. In one kit you get the rod, adjustable hanging brackets, and premium heavyweight curtains. The heavy curtains are capable of blocking unwanted light. This alone makes perfect for setting up a concealed bedroom in an open space.
Whichever option you choose, the hanging fabric will add richness to your place while also giving you privacy. Plus, you have plenty of colors to choose from.
Work in bed without distractions wearing one of these Privacy Hood pillows
Although working in bed is not advisable, some people don’t have a choice. Our bed may be the only comfortable surface with enough space for your laptop, notes, or both. So if your small living space has made a working area out of your bed, you’ll need all the privacy you can get.
This privacy pillow combines the features of a travel pillow and a hoodie. The pillow filled with microbeads will support and massage your neck while working in bed on a laptop. The hood will keep your eyes focused only on what’s in front of you. And if you happen to catch a power nap here and there, the hood will hide your eyes from sunlight.
Plus, you can’t deny the functionality of these. A room divider would serve its purpose only at home. But this pillow will keep you hidden (and napping) on trips, daily commutes, lunch breaks, sleepovers, and so on.
Also, let’s quickly address the elephant (or should I say the unicorn, sloth and a panda) in the room. These privacy pillows are too cute to handle.
Create your own hiding spot for a bit of privacy during the day with this Hanging Teepee
This hanging teepee will be your safe haven from the noise and stares. It can be your personal napping spot, reading nook, a place to listen to music, relax, and escape from the world.
Designed for one person, this teepee measures 4.9′ in diameter. It is available in 12 different colors, so you can match it to your color scheme.
This hanging teepee is made of a cotton-polyester blend rendering it water repellent. And you know what that means? On warmer days you can mount it on your balcony or hang it outside.
Speaking of mounting, the cacoon teepee is compatible with a tripod stand. Which means that if you’re renting or don’t want any drilling on your plate, you can still have a private teepee.
Pretty up your room by decorating the shelves on this functional privacy screen
Having everything serve a double purpose is a wise approach to decorating small spaces. So to be the Gandalf of dealing with small interiors, you will absolutely need this divider with shelves.
The 6-feet tall divider will help separate your private space from the rest of the room. You can decorate the 6 shelves with cute trinkets to incorporate it into your existing aesthetic. Picture frames, succulents, candles, jewelry stands and so on.
Also, you can use the additional shelving to organize your space and keep the clutter at bay.
Combine a clothing rolling rack with curtains to create a portable and cheap room divider
Instead of clothes, hang any type of curtain on a rolling rack.
This solution has four advantages. First, rolling clothes racks are readily available for purchase on the internet. It doesn’t have to be heavy-duty since it’ll only be holding a curtain, so you can easily get one on a budget. Some clothes racks even come with a shelf at the bottom. And additional storage space is always welcome in a small apartment.
Second, you can choose any curtain you want. If you’re short on funds, even a simple sheet will do the trick. Or, for a more romantic touch, you can opt-in for delicate lace curtains. Third, the “rolling” part of this solution allows you to quickly relocate this DIY privacy screen.
And finally, if your living situation changes, you can take the curtain off and still have functional clothes rack. Less shopping to do for your bedroom or entrance hall.
Fill out this bookshelf and use it as a functional privacy divider in your home office
Showing off your personal library on a bookcase will also create a sort of a temporary wall in your room. In the image above, the books are lined along an IKEA bookcase (similar to the KALLAX collection).
Since the bookcase doesn’t have a back wall, you can still catch a glimpse of what’s happening behind it. This prevents the room from looking too heavy and stifling. And if the separated space doesn’t have a window, the light can pass through the shelves.
A bookcase with a back wall, however, will create a more closed off private section. It’s a perfect solution for a bedroom or an entryway as you can see in the video tutorial above.
Easily fall asleep with full lights on by wearing a Sleeping Mask to bed
If you share a room with someone, your sleep cycles might not be synced up. So if yours is a classic early bird vs. night owl situation, no room divider will help you fall asleep with lights on. Getting a sleeping mask should be your first step at getting all-around privacy.
A simple sleeping mask will do the trick. There are plenty of those available online, from serious to cheeky ones. But if you want something more advanced, a sleeping mask like the one above is the right choice for you. Made of memory foam, it creates a total sense of darkness without applying pressure on your eyeballs (or ruining makeup if it’s a midday nap).
Save money and your sanity in a small dorm room by getting these cheap screen dividers
If you want privacy on a budget, these cheap room dividers will do the trick. Both don’t cost much, making it a quick and easy privacy solution. The one in the image above is said to be a bit transparent but still doing the job of concealing the details of what’s behind it.
The privacy room divider above has only three panels, instead of the traditional four. But again, we are talking about small space. So a narrower room divider might be a perfect solution for a small room you don’t want to feel cramped.
Block outside chatter and focus on your work with these Noise Canceling Headphones
Privacy in a small space can take on a lot of forms. While avoiding being seen is relatively easy to achieve, it’s a whole other story with avoiding unwanted sounds. That’s where noise-canceling headphones come in.
These Bose QuietComfort’s 35 II noise cancellation headphones can easily block ambient chatter. And if you combine it with a mind focusing playlist on Spotify, you’ll be sure to have some work done without interruptions.
Add more privacy to your dorm room while keeping it cute with this Hanging Overbed Canopy
Who didn’t want a canopy like this when you were a kid? And yes, while these are still mainly targeted at kids, I don’t see why adults can’t use these. With dozens of colors to choose from, you can match this privacy canopy to your room’s color scheme. It will conceal your head from view when sleeping, so awkward eye contact won’t be the first thing you wake up to.
You can also hide under it while studying or working. And even if you get tired of the bed canopy, you can always transform it into a private teepee. Throw a couple of soft pillows and rugs on the floor, hang this canopy above them, and there you have it. A magical spot where you can enjoy your moment of privacy from the world.
For renters or dorm students, you can try to mount a canopy like this using heavy-duty adhesive double-sided tape. Being ultra-light (1.8-2.5 lbs), the canopy should stay up without drilling holes in the ceiling. It’s worth a try.
Have a quiet nap anywhere without outside distractions wearing this ostrich pillow
Yes, this ostrich pillow looks ridiculous. But you know what else it looks like? Super comfortable, soft, and private.
Designed to make napping possible everywhere you go, this pillow envelopes you like a cacoon. With an opening for nose and mouth, your eyes stay hidden from the light. Two holes on each side allow you to slip in your hands inside for a quick nap on a desk.
The microbeads filling in the viscose fabric will make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud. And I’m guessing having this alien-looking pillow on will slightly muffle the ambient noise and chatter.
Naps in private are one of the few simple pleasures the cruel adult life has to offer. So if you crave some peace and quiet during the day, the ostrich pillow is your new best buddy.
Creating your own private nest is a long process. Make sure to pin this article on Pinterest so you can come back to it whenever you start craving peace and quiet.