You're reviewing your lease as you begin thinking about decorating your apartment. You've already made a wish list of what you want to buy and picked up a few paint chips from your local hardware store.
Doing your due diligence, you're checking the language in your rental agreement for any restrictions that might impact your plans for how to decorate a wall, and realize you can't paint. A little panic sets in as you keep reading. Then, relief.
You can't paint but you can use nails to hang items, as long as you fill them in before moving out. There's still hope for how you envisioned your apartment looking. Now, to find the best way to make your apartment decor pop without paint.
The furniture and accessories you put into a room only half complete it. The decorative elements you add finish the job, bringing the room together. Whether purchasing throw pillows, rugs, small display items or deciding what to put up on your walls, consider the overall aesthetic of the room.
Tonya Lee from The Spruce offers these color-coordinating tips:
Keeping color in mind when deciding what to put up on your walls can help unify a room. Even if you can't paint, the color of whatever decorative elements you pick is important. Here are a few suggestions for how to decorate a wall, without using a paintbrush.
“If you live in a rental and need a temporary fix to cover boring beige walls, or you're looking for an inexpensive and easy way to experiment with a splash of color, peel-and-stick wallpaper may be the answer," says Julie Pennell from Today.
Best on smooth surfaces, move slowly when applying this instant fix for an empty wall. Don't remove the backing all at once, but take a gradual approach to protect the bottom from sticking to itself while you're working at the top of a strip.
You can buy temporary wallpaper at big-box home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot, paint stores like Sherwin-Williams or online. Average costs are around $60-90 per roll, and it's best to buy two rolls whether you use both or not. Even if you end up returning the second roll, it's better to have it when you need it than need it and not be able to find the same pattern or color.
Because this decoration strategy is usually a slow process, consider doing a small space or one wall in a larger space rather than an entire room.
For boring tile in your kitchen or bathroom that's in desperate need of some color, you have options. Since you can't replace the tiles or paint designs onto them, look for tile decals.
These peel-and-stick decorations can transform the color of your backsplash or enable you to create a unique design. Sticker every tile or just a few to achieve the look you want and give your kitchen and bathroom a little more personality.
Prices vary and you usually have the option to buy single decals or a small pack. The more intricate the design, the higher the cost per tile, maxing out around $15 on average. Amazon, Etsy and Wayfair are all good places to search for a wide assortment of design choices.
The sheer variety of wall decals make them a versatile piece for decorating any sized wall in any room. They're available as fine art pieces, inspirational quotes, movie, TV or video game characters, simple patterns or almost any design you could want. Size and price vary, too. You shouldn't have a problem finding something you like that matches your color scheme, decorating style and personality.
Apply these carefully and slowly, like with the wallpaper, especially if your decal is big. Work to smooth out any air bubbles. They'll stick tight.
Should you run into any issues removing the decal, dengarden.com advises you enlist the help of a common household item. “If the sticker is firmly stuck, use a hairdryer (on a warm setting) to slowly heat the corner. Once that corner starts getting easier to peel, apply heat to the next area as you slowly remove the sticker."
Available in home goods, home improvement and furniture stores, you may have better luck browsing for the perfect decal online, but make sure you check sticker dimensions and measure your wall. You don't want to end up with something too big or too small.
You can approach this medium one of two ways:
You can also buy a tapestry to hang. “Tapestries are often a popular choice for decorating your wall because of their large size and intricate designs," says The Oola Team at Oola.com. “The pieces add a bright splash of color, texture and pattern to your space." These colorful pieces of fabric usually have an eclectic, woven or printed design. You can usually find tapestries at places like Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters or Target.
While on the subject of fabric hangings for wall decor, consider curtains. Just because there's no window behind them doesn't mean you can't hang up a curtain. Use an ordinary curtain rod installed toward the top of the wall.
Long curtains are easy to find since they're pre-cut to fit large, picture windows. There are plenty of options to choose from, heavy and dark to thin and semi-transparent, to set the right mood for your room.
Bed Bath & Beyond, TJ Maxx or any home goods store typically has a wide selection of curtains with displays so you can check texture and appearance.
If you have an artistic side begging to get set free, take this opportunity to let it go. Grab a few blank canvases in a variety of sizes, paints, brushes and any other art materials you want to use and create something original for your walls.
Do a “blue series" to blend in with your gray couch or a set of mixed media paintings that incorporate souvenirs and postcards you've collected on family trips. With endless possibilities, you'll end up with something original that reflects you as a person.
While for some, the idea of printing and hanging photos may feel strange, it's time to get a little old-school with your wall decor. A photo collage can make a great piece of wall art. If you have a lot of scenic photos, print them in different sizes, frame each individually and create an art installation.
If you want to put up pictures of family and friends, consider doing a series of black and white prints for a more artistic feel. Arrange your set of photos in a unique way as you hang them for added impact.
There's nothing wrong with putting up posters of your favorite bands, movies or art exhibits. Hanging pre-made art can be an inexpensive option with places like Ikea, Target and Walmart carrying more and more options for wall decor.
If you've always wanted an oversized wall clock, now's your chance, so spend a little time browsing what's available in stores.
No matter what size a mirror is, you can't help but look. But they're also a great decorative piece. They can help bring light into the room and give it a larger feel.
Hang a big mirror as a statement piece to fill up a wall, or use smaller mirrors to create a pattern that sparkles. You can find mirrors with decorative borders or in funky shapes to as well. “Mirrors are as common in decorating as wall paint, but a particularly stylish one can lend sparkle to an entire room," says Lucy Fitzgerald from Traditional Home.
Believe it or not, this popular crafting item can create instant wall art. You'll need a lot of tape, but you can use it to create any pattern you want on your wall. It peels off easily when it's time to take it down and gives you the creative freedom to transform any wall into a great accent piece.
This is an inexpensive option, best used for smaller wall spaces you want to highlight with a bold statement. A large roll of wrapping paper or some sheets of sturdy scrapbook paper and some double-sided tape is all you need to complete a decorating project with these materials.
The only drawback is that they're also fragile. Putting paper on the wall in a high-traffic area increases the risk of rips, so stick to the back of your closet or the spaces between shelves on a bookcase for this decorative strategy.
You don't have to make huge holes in your walls to hang most of the items on this list. While some are self-stick, the others could be hung a bit easier and less damaging:
When it's time to move out and pull down all the stuff on your walls, you have one final step to take — hiding the holes. “Use a putty knife to fill them with Spackle or wall joint compound. Allow the area to dry, then sand lightly," says Merle Henkenius from This Old House.
The whole process takes minutes as long as you've kept the holes on the smaller side. With a neutral wall color, you may even be able to find putty to match, making it look like you never hung anything at all.
Even without the ability to paint your walls your favorite color, decorating your apartment to suit your style is possible. Use any of these ideas can help give your home an individual look and feel in color-coordinated harmony.