Save your hard-earned cash by making your own inexpensive room divider to optimize use of a limited or shared space. Re-purposing items destined for the trash or recycle bin is good for the environment and your budget, and a DIY room divider can be stylish and fabulous for pennies, along with a few hours of your time. Enlist a handy friend to share the labor or hold the ladder, and the project goes even faster.

Choosing dress
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A DIY room divider can be informal and inexpensive.

Doors and Windows

Salvaged doors or windows become a bargain room divider when they are attached with piano hinges or braced together to reach from ceiling to floor. Keep the distressed paint and finish on interesting old doors and windows -- spray it with clear lacquer if the paint is too flaky. Whitewash beat-up frames and wood for a uniform appearance. Screw three doors together into a folding screen to place anywhere you need room definition or privacy. Connect old windows into a "wall" with braces and secure them to wood or metal strips attached to the ceiling and floor for stability. Windows create the illusion of divided space without blocking the light. Add clear tinted cling film or lighting gels to windows for a stained glass divider.

Tansu Cubby Shelves

Connected cubbies or hollow cubes turn into storage-plus-room-divider to separate the living area from the dining table, or the bed from the rest of a studio apartment. Stagger cubes ladder-style so they look like an Asian tansu chest -- a taller stack of shelves at one end, stepped down to a single square shelf or cubby at the other. Place books, art or accent pieces in the openings and use the steps for handmade pottery or live plants. A stacked tansu divider that can be disassembled may be reconfigured to work in different areas of your space.

Cheap Chalkboards

Head down to the hardware store; score three sheets of cut plywood -- many hardware stores and all lumber yards will cut wood to order, if you need a particular size -- add some two-way hinges and chalkboard paint to your shopping cart; and you almost have a cheap room divider. Paint both sides of the wood, screw on the hinges, rub chalk all over the paint to "season" it, wipe off the chalk with a soft cloth, and angle the folding chalkboard screen to block a messy view or reduce the distractions in a home office. Screw a couple of decorative coat hooks into the top of one or more chalkboard panels and hang chalk and erasers on strings so they'll always be handy. Save even more with scrap lumber and custom-color homemade chalkboard paint.

Flower Fall

Recycle old plastic soda bottles and craft a delicate, translucent room divider at the same time. Cut the sculpted bottoms off clear plastic drink bottles; the sections will look like 5-petaled flowers with a small circle for the center. Connect the "flowers" in long strings and then cross-connect them into a curtain with a tag attachment gun, which is used for store merchandise, that shoots a clear plastic thread with a wide tip into each bottle section. When the curtain of flowers is as large as you want the room divider, create loops at the top with the tag gun and slip the flower fall over a rod or dowel, suspended from the ceiling.