Pony Walls: What You Need to Know

Paul Pogue
Written by Paul Pogue
Updated March 4, 2022
Pony wall in entryway next to staircase
Photo: sergey02 / Getty Images

Not just for the stables

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

If you have an open floor plan, or are looking for a way to delineate a room, a pony wall can ‌create obvious separation, without completely closing off the space. Even though they’re not a new trend in the interior design world, they have seen a resurgence in popularity after Joanna Gaines offered it as a layout solution for an open-concept room in an episode of Fixer Upper. Use this guide to learn more about pony walls, and how you can incorporate them into your space.

What is a Pony Wall?

A pony wall, sometimes referred to as a “half wall,” is a short interior or exterior wall that does not extend from the floor to the ceiling. Originally, the term “pony wall” was coined 150 years ago in Nebraska by a farmer, Walter Clydell, who built short walls in his stable so he could see into the horse stalls easier. 

In modern-day use, a pony wall can be used in various areas of residential and commercial buildings to break up an open space, without fully partitioning the area with a full-length wall. Pony walls are typically 3 to 4 feet high, and can be found in entryways, bathrooms, and kitchens alike. This type of wall design is a functional solution for an open space that may serve as two separate areas, but could benefit from some level of separation.

Pony Wall vs. Knee Wall

A knee wall can sometimes be used interchangeably when referring to a pony wall, but they have slight differences worth noting. Pony walls are more of an interior design choice to separate a room, whereas knee walls have an architectural purpose within the home. A knee wall is usually less than 3 feet high (falling below the knee), and is typically used to support something, such as a countertop or attic rafters. In most cases, a knee wall is load-bearing, whereas a pony wall is not. However, sometimes pony walls can be constructed around load-bearing columns or pillars in the room to better incorporate them into the overall design of the space. 

Pony Wall Ideas 

There are different ways a pony wall can be used in a home, such as adding storage space, serving as a room divider, or for purely aesthetic purposes. Check out a few examples of how a pony walls can upgrade the function and overall appearance of a room.

Bathroom Pony Wall

Pony wall in modern bathroom
Photo: Martin Barraud / Getty Images

Set up a pony wall in the bathroom to hide the toilet from being in plain view when the door is open. This creates a clean sightline and makes the focal point the natural architectural elements within the space, like the vaulted ceiling, or the stone-tiled shower wall.

Partitioned Entry Way

Pony wall in entryway
Photo: sergey02 / Getty Images

A pony wall can be set up between the main living area and an entryway to serve as a mudroom—albeit a makeshift one. Keep shoes and outdoor accessories corralled behind the wall. This way, they’re not in view from the living room. What’s more, the pony wall helps direct foot traffic from the front door to the main spaces in your home.  

Functional Built-Ins

Built-in cabinetry in pony wall near entryway
Photo: irina88w / Getty Images

Use a pony wall as a storage solution by creating built-in cabinetry on one side of it to store your trinkets. Opt for glass doors to let more light in and give you a place to store your mementos to serve as conversation pieces within the room.

Staircase Pony Wall

Pony wall in front of staircase
Photo: karamysh / Getty Images

Instead of spindles, use a pony wall alongside a staircase. Not only does this provide a sturdy base to attach a railing to, but it gives you more wall space to suspend artwork or photographs from. 

Great Room Separator

Pony wall separating great room
Photo: irina88w / Getty Images

Sometimes an open-concept floor plan is overwhelming to create an interior design concept for. A pony wall can create separation between areas that have different uses, such as a dining room and living space. Moreover, it can be an endpoint to transition between different types of flooring you may have. 

Kitchen Ledge

Pony wall separating kitchen
Photo: zstockphotos / Getty Images

Counterspace can be hard to come by in a kitchen, especially if you also store paperwork and trinkets on them. Use a small pony wall to also serve as a ledge to house your odds and ends. Remember, you can also run electricity into the wall to add more outlets for your appliances and kitchen gadgets, if needed.

Bedroom Divider

Two beds in room divided by pony wall
Photo: rilueda / Getty Images

Separate a sibling’s shared room with a pony wall to create more privacy, without dividing up the space with a full wall. Place bookshelves on both sides so they can personalize their individual areas, and keep belongings corralled in their own designated cubbies. 

Decorative Wooden Slats

Pony wall with vertical wood privacy slats
Photo: MR.WUTTISAK PROMCHOO / Getty Images

Bring dimension to an open floor plan by using a wall that extends vertical wood slats above the top of the pony wall. This adds privacy to the space, and creates an aesthetically pleasing focal point by highlighting the modern interior design style of the room.

Work-From-Home Office

Home office in front of pony wall
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

Set aside a designated place to work-from-home by using a pony wall as a barrier from other areas in the room. Having this partition can help to minimize distractions, and the top of the wall’s ledge even acts as an additional place to store your office essentials.

Pony Wall Installation Tips

Installing a pony wall can be a DIY home improvement project, especially if you have some carpentry experience. Here are some tips to help the process and ensure a sturdy wall:

  • While pony walls are short, it’s important for them to be strong enough to support weight if you were to lean on it or store items on top of it. Reinforce the bottom plate by attaching nails or screws to the subfloor. If it’s a long wall, you can remove part of the subfloor, and run a stud into the joist bay. Then, attach it to the floor joist framing to eliminate the potential of a wobbly half wall.

  • If you don’t want to cut into the existing flooring, a short wall (under 3 feet) can be attached to the top of the floor using long nails or screws that drive into the subfloor. 

  • Start the project by building the frame of the wall first before installing it. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to lift the pre-made wall and move it to its final location.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.