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For the first time in several years, I’ve been spending more time at my desk. And although I love the change of pace, the change of space needed a few upgrades. My desk sits against a wall in an open living room, so I built a room divider to create a cozy little nook for my workspace. Not only does it add a ton of personality to my “office,” but the back side also serves as an inspiration/bulletin board where I can pin up my to do list or a photo of the beach to perk me up when I get weary. You won’t believe how easy it is!

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • plywood
  • sandpaper
  • sander (optional)
  • 6 hinges and screws
  • measuring tape
  • chalk
  • electric drill/screwdriver
  • scissors
  • Dacron
  • goggles
  • stapler
  • 3/8″ staples
  • air compressor
  • regulator
  • fabric
  • pliers
  • staple remover
  • roll of 1/4″ thick cork
  • utility knife
  • spray adhesive
  • decorative tacks (optional)
  • tack hammer with nylon tip
  • 6 nylon nail-in glides

Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.


We’ll be constructing a three-panel divider, but feel free to add additional panels if you’d like a larger one. My panels are 20″ wide by 66″ tall, which requires 4 yards of fabric, depending on your pattern repeat. If you don’t have a saw to cut your plywood, have your hardware store helpers cut it to size for you. Even though I have a table saw, I still have Home Depot cut large pieces of wood for me. It’s easier, cleaner, and fits in my car better when it’s precut.

1. Once your panels are cut to the desired size, sand the edges to remove sharp edges and splinters.

2. We’ll start with the first two panels only to make it easier to move around as we upholster. Divide the total length of your panels by three and make a mark at 1/3 and 2/3 down the board. For the left panel, only mark the right side. Mark both sides on the middle panel.

3. Center your hinges on these marks, pre-drill pilot holes, and screw them into the plywood. As you’re attaching the hinges, check that you’re attaching them so they’ll close completely and to the correct side of the plywood. I want my right and left sides to fold back toward the middle panel, so I’m attaching all the hinges to the back side of the plywood.

4. Cut out three pieces of Dacron big enough to wrap around the front and sides of each panel. Use the split and staple method to attach the Dacron to the sides of the first panel (see step 8 from Boxed Ottoman). Trim off the excess Dacron even with the back side and flip over your panels.

5. Center your fabric on the first panel and sub-staple the top and bottom to the back side (see step 10 from Dining Chair Do-Over).

6. Make release cuts around the hinges and push the fabric in between the panels with a regulator (see step 4 from Constructing Coil Seats — Part 2).

7. Flip over the two panels and continue sub-stapling all around the back side. Once you’re happy with the tightness and straightness of the fabric, replace the sub-staples with permanent ones.

8. Smooth out the fabric in the corners with a pleat (see step 11 from Dining Chair Do-Over).

9. Repeat steps 4–8 for the second panel. Then attach the hinges to the third panel.

10. Repeat steps 4–8 to upholster the third panel.

11. After all the panels are upholstered, measure and cut out three pieces of cork with a utility knife big enough to cover the back side of each panel.

12. Staple the top corners of the cork to the plywood, then use spray adhesive to stick the cork to the panel. Staple the bottom two corners when you reach the other end.

13. The cork should be stuck to the back side of each panel and anchored with a staple at all four corners. Since it’s difficult to get the cork to stick to the fabric around the edges, we’ll need to either staple down the edge or attach with decorative tacks. I don’t like seeing exposed staples, so I’ll use decorative tacks.

14. For spaced tacks, use a ruler to measure where the tacks will go. Mine are spaced 1″ apart.

15. Use the tack hammer with a nylon tip to nail in the decorative tacks all the way around each panel. Skip over hinges since tacks won’t go through metal.

16. To protect the fabric on the bottom of your panels, attach two nylon nail-in glides or felt pads to the bottom of each panel.

he Sprucettes were really excited about this one (TL: me, BL: Meredith, TR: Katherine, BR: Clar)!

Room Divider Tips

1. When purchasing plywood, do your best to buy a piece that’s not warped and is free of missing chunks.

2. If you’re being careful to match your pattern across all three boards like me, number your panels and fabric pieces to help remember which panel goes where.

3. If you want your panels to swing in either direction, use double-hinges. The only reason I didn’t use them is because they were $25 each, and I needed 6!

Now You’re Done 🙂