If a complete renovation that includes adding permanent walls to your basement isn't in your budget, you can still define spaces and create "rooms" without making a large investment. Although you can use folding floor screens, they can make your basement look cluttered and thrown together if they're the only room dividers you have. Think creatively to separate the rooms in your basement.
Curtains can provide instant and inexpensive room definition. Measure the spaces you want to divide, and then attach fishing line or a clothes line to hooks on facing walls. You can also suspend the line from hooks in the ceiling, using clips specially designed for drop ceilings if necessary. Use heavy, light-blocking curtains if you're going for privacy, or sheer curtains to allow more light to pass between rooms. You can also use beaded curtains for a retro feel.
For a more permanent solution that also offers more in the way of privacy, install fabric panels on tracks. Fabric panels are firmer than curtain fabrics and are typically weighted at the bottom to help them stay in place. Screw the tracks into the ceiling, then lift the panels so the rollers connect with the tracks. Most tracks have two lanes so you can slide one panel behind another when you want to open the space between the rooms. Fabric panels are often used to cover sliding glass doors or large windows so they come in sheer or heavy versions.
Tall furniture can divide rooms efficiently while providing additional storage. Place several inexpensive bookshelves in a line back to back to create a wall with storage on each side. You can also use a large entertainment center or armoire as part of the wall to provide space for your TV as well. If light is a concern, use bookshelves that are open on both sides, such as cube bookcase. This creates a storage solution that allows light to pass between rooms. To cover doorways between rooms, hang curtains on tension rods between the outer walls and the last bookcase in the row.
Plants can add life and texture to your basement -- and you can use them to create a wall. Use both tall and short plants, as the short plants can fill in below the foliage of the taller plants. Wide plants, such as palm plants or peace lilies, can fill large areas for little money. You can also hang baskets of plants from the ceiling to continue the wall higher. If your basement doesn't have windows, consider using artificial plants -- or getting creative with tall tree branches that you cut yourself. Plaster of Paris can hold the branches upright in your containers.
If you have low, long pieces of furniture, such as a buffet or rolling kitchen island, you can make a half-wall room divider by suspending artwork from the ceiling over the piece of furniture. Choose large, framed art, which you can typically find at affordable prices at discount stores. Hang the art from ceiling hooks using picture-hanging wire -- and suspend it so that it blocks the next room from view. Hang pictures back to back to add visual interest to each room. Use framed mirrors to make your basement rooms appear larger.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.