Pony walls were famous back in the 1960s, so some people may think they’ve gone out of style by now. But believe it or not, these short, usually non-weight-bearing walls may have lots of useful and aesthetic purposes around your house.
Pony walls are actually coming back in style in some home designs. Whether used as a partition between rooms, a safety wall next to an open staircase, or as a bookshelf for extra storage, there are lots of reasons to love these short, versatile walls.
Read on to find out more about pony walls and why I think they’re not going out of style anytime soon.
What Is A Pony Wall?
A pony wall is a wall that begins at the floor but does not extend all the way to the ceiling. They are meant to serve as a separation between two rooms while still providing an open floorplan feel.
For example, my parents had a pony wall between their dining and living rooms. Family members in the two rooms could easily converse, allowing for larger family gatherings.
Are Pony Walls Out of Style?
Pony walls have been in and out of style since their beginning. Right now, I’d say they’re back in style. However, they don’t necessarily appeal to everyone or fit with all styles of homes.
Pony walls got their start in the stables of a farmer named Walter Clydell. Decades later, they became a popular feature in homes, especially during the 1950s and 1960s, as styles started trending toward more open floor plans (source).
But what about today? Do modern homes have any use for pony walls?
Pony walls began regaining popularity in 2018 when Joanna Gaines designed one on an episode of Fixer Upper (source). Since then, they have taken on a life of their own as homeowners and remodelers have discovered just how versatile they can be.
They are easy to design, and they can be made to match almost any style of house you can imagine.
Of course, pony walls work best in houses with open floor plans, where the large empty spaces may need something to break them up. Small houses and houses with a lot of interior walls may become cluttered by the addition of pony walls.
That said, it is sometimes possible to open up a house more by taking out an existing wall and replacing it with a pony wall.
When Pony Walls Work
Depending on your specific floor plan, there may be lots of spaces in your house that would benefit from having a pony wall installed. Some areas you might want to consider include:
- Near staircases. One of the most common places for a pony wall is next to an open staircase. Pony walls can be used to close off the broadside opening next to the staircase, acting as a safety rail to prevent anyone from falling.
- In bathrooms. Sometimes people will use pony walls to section off different areas in a bathroom. A typical example is to place a small pony wall between the toilet and sink, or between the toilet and tub. This placement often provides an extra layer of privacy and a modern, stylish look.
- As room dividers, in houses with open floor plans, pony walls are sometimes used to create partitions between rooms. They are especially great for breaking up the space between the kitchen, dining room, and living room without losing the open feel and airiness of this type of floor plan.
- At entryways. Some houses may benefit from having a pony wall separating the front door from the room it opens into. You could even use pony walls to create your little foyer, complete with an entry mat and coat rack.
- Wherever you need extra storage space, besides using them for safety rails and room dividers, you can also use pony walls for extra storage space by adding shelves or cupboards to them. You could turn the pony wall in your living room into a built-in bookshelf, for example, or use the one in your kitchen as an extra pantry.
With a bit of creativity, the possibilities are endless. This YouTube video highlights different pony wall design and decoration ideas:
When Pony Walls Don’t Work
If you’re remodeling an older house, there’s a good chance you may want to tear down pony walls that are already there. Reasons for getting rid of pony walls might include:
- Poor condition. If the original pony walls were built poorly or made of low-quality materials, they might need to be taken out or replaced. Pony walls that are cracked, crumbling, or damaged in any way will only decrease the appeal and value of your home.
- Closed-off floor plan. If all the rooms of your house are already walled off and separated, there’s no use for pony walls. Unless your house has some vast rooms, having pony walls will only make houses with closed floor plans look smaller.
- Don’t like the look. If you don’t like pony walls, or you can’t stand the look of a particular pony wall in a particular house, then get rid of it! There’s no need to keep a pony wall if you don’t like how it looks, as most pony walls are only partitions and don’t bear any weight.
Pony Wall Pros and Cons
As we’ve already discussed, pony walls may be an excellent idea for one house and a terrible idea for another. If you’re still not sure whether they’re a good fit for your house, I’ve compiled a list detailing some of the pros and cons of pony walls.
- Pony walls are entirely customizable. There are hundreds of ways to make these half-sized walls your own. You get to determine precisely where you want them, how tall they should be, what materials they’re made of, and how to finish them.
You can build a simple pony wall to separate your living room and dining room, a stylish partition in the middle of your bedroom to double as a headboard, or a tiny section separating the toilet from the sink in the bathroom. You can even build shelves into the side of the wall for extra storage space.
Pony walls are a perfect way to break up the open space without losing the light and airy feeling of an open floor plan, and you can design them to fit the style of almost any house.
- Pony walls are easy to install. Putting in a pony wall is not as difficult as you might think. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, it’s just a matter of selecting the site for the wall, choosing the materials, and building it.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the process, there are a lot of YouTube videos that show you, step by step, how to do it. Or, of course, you could always hire a contractor to build the pony wall for you, but this is usually unnecessary if you are handy around the house (or you know someone who is).
- Pony walls offer the best of both worlds. If you have an open floor plan, you may love the openness and the natural light, but may not like how all the rooms seem to “run together.” Adding a pony wall here or there will give you a barrier between rooms or sections without making your house feel dark or closed up.
- Pony walls may clutter an open floor plan. Some people don’t care for pony walls because they can make a house look smaller by dividing up space. This is especially true in smaller houses or houses that are less open, to begin with.
- Pony walls may feel confining. If you like your wide-open spaces, pony walls may interfere with your style even though they don’t entirely close areas off. This may be especially true in smaller, more cramped areas, such as the bathroom, where a pony wall may feel less like added privacy and more like a confined box.
Pony walls are versatile, cute, and back in style. And they may be just the feature your home is missing.
As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.