Temporary/easy-to-put-up wall?

Greetings:
We have a finished basement with pine floors, one fairly small bedroom down there and a main room. There's a laundry room down there too, as well as a two piece bathroom (sink/toilet).
We're looking at my mother coming to live with us later this year, the idea is that Mom is going to mostly take over the basement. The bedroom isn't going to be enough space for her, so we'd like for her to be able to have a little sitting room down there too, in the main room, but allow her privacy in there to watch TV, talk on the phone or whatever without being interrupted by us as we go to the laundry room, etc.
We aren't handy enough to build a wall ourselves. Is there anything that is easy and fairly inexpensive to put up that could make a little room down there? It doesn't need to be soundproof or anything, just a separate space. The ceiling down there is, hmm, a dropped ceiling maybe? It has tiles in the ceiling, behind them is the bare wood.
Thanks for any assistance!
KD
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Hollow core doors joined with metal mending plates and screws.
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wrote:

I would second this opinion but I would use hinges turned in alternate directions to create a series of V's. A lot more stability than a straight wall. A 6-12" spread will add a lot of stability.
--
Colbyt
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*Maybe some cubicle partitions that are used for corporate office workstations. Sometimes you can buy them used and put new fabric on them. Try an office furniture supply company.
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wrote:

If it's acceptable you could use drapes or similar material hung on a wire. Might use walls or existing stanchions as anchor points for the wire ends, so you don't have to modify the ceiling. Google folding walls for other options. Many ways to do this, some easy, some not.
--Vic
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On 1/19/2011 8:38 PM, Vic Smith wrote:

My take also. And I use it here.
IKEA has floor length drapes for ~$20 (huge assortment in styles/colors), long curtain rods (~12') for $10, and stainless tension-able steel curtain wire (~ 16') for $15.
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70169316 http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00111989 http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60075295
I have all of those and I like them.
Jeff
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Your version is store bought, mine homemade, but it's the same idea. The curtains would make the TV area seem like a theater and would enable the space to be opened or closed easily as needed. The ceiling would have to be opened up to allow the curtain rods to be attached to the floor joists above, and then closed up again. The dropped ceiling grid wouldn't take the weight of the curtains.
R
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On 1/20/2011 10:40 AM, RicodJour wrote:

This is precisely why I have it also! Very easy to completely open up the room with the "home theater", and close it off again (to save heat). And it looks a nice theater. It's one of those things that seems so obvious and right, *after* it's done. Curtains, what a concept!
The ceiling

Sounds reasonable.
Jeff

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How about something like this? http://thebluerabbithouse.tumblr.com/post/2690889898 The wall doesn't have to be tilted. Make the wall out of 2x3s, make it straight up and down, and zig zag it along the floor so it's stronger and less likely to get knocked down. You can tie off the top to the dropped ceiling track with cable ties (aka zip ties) or wire.
Post on Freecycle.org and ask for some full length floor to ceiling curtains, and explain the situation. I'm sure someone will have some laying about that they'd be willing to give you for free. Or you could just use some inexpensive fabric or even bed sheets. If you attach the fabric with staples, put some pleats in there so it'll look better.
R
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On 1/19/2011 9:28 PM, RicodJour wrote:

Uh, no on the fabric dividers unless they are flame-resistant. Any theater supply houses nearby? They can point you at flame-resistant curtains, and the ceiling track to hang them from. Hospital divider curtains are similar technology, but Mom may find those depressing to look at. And make sure the space has fire and CO detectors, and a realistic escape route.
A zig-zag room divider could work, and could be made out of cheap louvered closet door slabs from the local discount door place (if you have one of those), held together with butt hinges on alternating edges and finished however you like. Unless you have an extra-deep basement, those should get pretty close to ceiling. Probably do want to tie it off to wall on one end, and maybe to the ceiling on the other end, perhaps with a decorative pole poked through a tile and nailed to a joist. It'd make an awful and embarrassing racket if she bumped it in the dark and knocked it over.
Only other painless idea that comes to mind is a big bookcase, with the back covered in paneling to make it pretty as a divider. Or two bookcases back to back, if you have the room. I'd still put a long screw into the wall at the top, to reduce the tipover hazard. Most larger towns still have either an unfinished furniture place or discount office furniture place with something suitable. (and no, I don't mean those awful chipboard bookcases- yo want something decent looking.)
--
aem sends....

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Are the curtains in your house fire-retardant? The wood paneling, the wood doors, the stuff in the room, the clothes, the bed and bed clothes, the recliner?
A basement bedroom requires a secondary exit, true, and the fire and CO detectors in a basement, where the heating plant is located, is a given. But as far as the other stuff, keep it simple. Tell Mom not to smoke in the basement and keep any space heaters away from anything flammable. Give the old lady some credit for not being an idiot.
R
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KD wrote:

you can get large plastic tarps online, cut to your dimensions. i rigged up a large one to divide a car bay out of my garage into a smaller room for my wife to do ceramics, to keep the dust and cooling expenses down. i raise and lower it with ropes set up similar to wooden slat curtains.
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I think you'll all be happier if you invest a little time and effort and build a real wall.
re: We aren't handy enough to build a wall ourselves.
I think that with a little research, and maybe the help of a friend, you'd find that a couple of non-load bearing walls are pretty simple to build, even with a door.
Mom would probably appreciate the extra privacy and feel a lot more at "home" with a real room.
However, there is one thing no one has mentioned yet:
Egress
Will mom have an escape route if a fire breaks out just outside of her room(s)? There are codes that need to be followed before you can (legally) turn a basement into a living space.
I only bring this up since I know how I'd feel if my Mom got hurt (or worse) because she couldn't get out or we could't get to her in an emergency .
When my dad turned his basement into sleeping areas for when we and the grandkids visit, he made sure he modified a window to become a means of egress.
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KD wrote:

I'd do a simple wall with 2x4's and finish it on her side. Put it all together with screws so it will be easy to take out someday. You should be able to move some drop ceiling panels to attach the top plate via some stringers to make the top secure. I'd guess you are going to run into mobility problems if she has to use the stairs much. Good luck living with your mom around.
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I wouldn't build a true wall down there, after all you just want to be able to create a space on a temporary basis for a while, not create a new permanent floor plan layout for your basement...
You say you are not handy at building walls, how "not handy" are you ? Just unsure about how to build walls the correct way, or a trip to the emergency room with the severed digits in a cooler on ice hoping for reattachment ?
If it were my home, I would build nice looking temporary panels using some five quarter by six stock to make the frames, furniture leveling feet to support the "wall" at the bottom, industrial double stick tape at the top all working to hold homasote panels in place with quarter round molding to the frame...
Check out this summary article on the episode on Ask This Old House: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,199843,00.html
Or for the construction details this pic:
http://img2.timeinc.net//toh/images/addingon/15_extrabedroom9.jpg
If you don't feel like you want to build these temporary walls yourself, you could always take this idea and hire a contractor to do the work for you... Will cost MUCH less than adding real walls, which to be code compliant would require the addition of electrical recepticles and all the other fun things...
~~ Evan
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Wow, thanks for all the responses! I haven't checked out all the links yet, but much to think about. Even just curtains in the short term could be the answer for now.
We're not completely non-handy, I can do basic plumbing, adequately use a hammer and a screwdriver, own a drill and have used table saws and such in the past although I don't own one. My Dad was a handyman and I *helped* a lot while I was a kid, learned a lot. My husband, not quite so handy. :) I have no clue on how to build a wall though, and was thinking of not really wanting to make permanent walls down there. But on the other hand, our son is four right now, but someday HE would likely enjoy having his own little space down there, or even us, having a cool space in the summer to use as a rec room. So permanent or semi-permanent walls are not such a bad idea. Not the first time I've wished we still had Dad here to help us out.
As for escape in case of fire, I'll have to check on local code, but there is a bedroom in the basement already, currently used as storage/ junk room. We have a basement, main floor and an upstairs. Three bedrooms are upstairs (two used as bedrooms, one a kid's playroom) but all exits are on the main floor, so you're either going down or up to get out. Windows are new in the last few years and are wide though, easily hopped through in case of emergency. DerbyDad, what did you do to 'modify' the window? I'm thinking if we just had a stepstool there, she could manage to get out.
The living space we're making for Mom is only a sleeping/visiting/TV area, no kitchen or anything, and thank GOD she does not smoke. My husband and I work all day and our son is in daycare (school come September), so the rest of the house is hers to use while we're gone. But we would like to have her own space to watch TV, etc. and keep out of our hair (she wants that as much as we do).
No doubt about it, this is going to be challenging (not just the wall part). It's great to have a live-in cook, babysitter and part time housekeeper, but living with someone who has some memory loss going on, I'm gonna have to find some patience somewhere!
Thanks again everyone !
KD
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On 1/20/2011 7:12 PM, KD wrote:

Google 'egress window' for specifications. Enforcement is spotty, but I wouldn't put a relative in a bedroom without one. Rule of thumb for most insurance and FD inspectors is, if it has a closet with a rod, they treat it as a bedroom. If this is a daylight basement, you may be okay. If not, you may have to dig out the window well and put in one of the big stepped ones.

Memory loss and cooking is scary. Memory loss and babysitter, scary if the kid is small, not so much if they are old enough to walk and talk. A noble thing you are doing, but it can be a very hard road. Watched my mother go that way with her mother, and the role reversal can be jarring.
--
aem sends...

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On 1/20/2011 8:44 PM, aemeijers wrote:

Yes, you have to be a very strong person with a lot of patience to take on this task, and sorry to say, it will become a task. I'm going through early Alzheimer's with my mother but she is still in her own apartment. Only tip I can think of it no matter how many times she asks the same question, just keep answering her as if it's the first time, even if it's the hundredth time that day. As much as you may want to correct her, trying to correct someone in that condition only makes them feel bad and get upset and everything spirals out of control. Get a camcorder set up and ask her to tell you stories, ask about school and things she did as a little girl. It may be the only time you will get to hear some of the wonderful stories they can remember, ones that you never heard of before, and some that you do know. Wishing you all the best.
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Just because "there is a bedroom in the basement already" doesn't mean it meets code.
Why do you consider it a "bedroom" and not just a storage room that someone could sleep in?

You should have at least one, if not more, escape ladders on the second floor. Something like this:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61GRtIIYt9S._AA1500_.jpg
A fire on the first floor that blocks the stairs would prevent egress. Not a situation you would want to find yourself in.
As far as the basement, if there is no code-compliant egress, then that room that you called a "bedroom" is probably not a legal bedroom. I believe that the thought process behind the code is that being awake in the basement when a fire breaks out is far safer than being asleep in a closed off bedroom and waking up to find that the fire has spread enough that you can't get up the stairs.

It was my Dad, not me, that modified the window. There was a small window in the area where he put the basement bedroom. Outside it was at ground level, inside it was up near the ceiling. He dug a window well, removed a few blocks, and installed a ~3' x 2' hinged window that opens into the room. With the thickness of the blocks and the 2 x 4 wall, there something like a 9" ledge inside the window that you can climb up on and crawl out of the window.
I don't know the exact size of the window or if it's up to modern day code, but I do know that I could get my family out pretty darn quick if the stairs to the first floor were blocked.

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