Decorating Your Apartment Walls When You Can’t Paint

Decorating Your Apartment Walls When You Can’t Paint

Maybe your landlord does not allow you to paint the walls of your place under the terms of your lease, or, if you own your apartment, your homeowner’s association rules prohibit it.

Maybe the job of painting your walls is too expensive, time-consuming or too much of an imposition on your household to be practical. Whatever the reason, if you have decided your apartment walls need decorating but you simply cannot paint them, there are, fortunately, an abundance of other options available to you.

Related Article: Tips for Renting an Apartment as a Permanent Resident

When choosing from the other possible ways to decorate your apartment walls without painting, there are several factors to take into consideration. If you rent your apartment, you probably want a more temporary solution, whereas, if you own your apartment, you can select a more permanent option. Other factors include cost, ease of decorating and personal style. Whichever you choose, remember to protect the wall beneath your choice of decor as well. Whenever you move out of the apartment, your cleanup and repairs are a lot simpler and less costly if you do.

Temporary Wallpaper

Hanging wallpaper does not have to be a permanent commitment. You can instead hang what is known as temporary wallpaper, also called removable wallpaper, which you can take down any time you need or desire. To hang most temporary wallpaper, you simply peel off the backing and press the sticky surface onto the wall where you want it. Removing it is just as simple. You peel it right back off. Just like regular, permanent wallpaper, temporary wallpaper comes in a wide range of colors, patterns and styles. To save on the cost of using temporary wallpaper to decorate a room, consider using it for accents and highlights rather than to cover the entire surfaces of the walls. Alternatively, you can hang regular wallpaper in a removable manner by using only non-pasted wallpaper and hanging it with liquid starch.


Hang art on your walls to give it color, life and personality. Choose favorite family photographs, cutouts from calendars and magazines, or purchased art from galleries, studios and stores. The creative sources for interesting wall art are endless and include:

  • Fliers for concerts, raves or political events.
  • Printed napkins.
  • Signs and license plates.

To give the art a clean appearance and sophisticated appeal, you can even frame it, though this costs more. For that matter, picture frames alone, even without pictures inside them, can make for interesting and attractive decor and art in their own right.


Hang fabric on your walls to cover large swaths of surface area with a single, stand-out color or pattern. Fabrics come in all forms, from reusing old, vintage bed sheets or tablecloths to buying actual tapestries or wall-hangings. Curtains do not only have to hang over windows—you can hang them on walls, too. They create a sense of mystique about what lies behind them while adding color, softness and texture to bland, hard, flat walls. Alternatively, pick up a nice area rug off the floor and hang it on a wall instead. In cooler climates, rugs make attractive wall-coverings for more than one reason. Of course, you can always head down to the fabric store and purchase the exact fabrics you desire by the yard. To hang any sort of fabric without putting sticks, tacks or nails into the wall, use liquid starch.

Mirrors and Lights

Whether you use them separately or together, mirrors and lights help make a room look and feel bigger and brighter. Hang mirrors on the walls of any smaller rooms or hallways to make them feel less cramped. Hang lights on the walls of any darker rooms to make them feel less dim and somber. Hang colored string lights across the top of the wall to add color to the walls without needing anything else on them. You can find string lights in single colors or a spectrum, and color notwithstanding, you can also find string lights in different shapes and designs, from candle flames and balls to flowers and hot peppers. You can likewise use mirrors artfully, such as by hanging smaller mirrors together in an interesting pattern or hanging a large mirror with an interesting shape or ornate frame. When you use mirrors and lights in creative manners like this, they become more than just practical. They become art in themselves.


You may not be able to paint your walls, but you can certainly paint the old unused household items you revive into a new decorative life. Take old shutters, folding screens, trellises, wood window frames or doors and paint them the colors you want highlighted in your home. Remember to use sufficiently heavy screws to secure them into wall studs when hanging heavier objects, like wood, on your walls.

Wall Stickers

Not all stickers are permanent either. Wall decals, for example, are designed to be temporary and removable. The array of wall decals to choose from allows you endless creativity in applying them. Create a whole scene or landscape on your walls using removable decals alone, or tastefully tack up a handful of wall decals containing your favorite inspirational quotes. Vinyl wall stickers can also be combined with other designs to create a one of a kind unique look.

Fashion Accessories

Fashion is the way people decorate themselves. Why not use the same fashion to help decorate your walls when you cannot paint? Set up a hanger or hanging bar along a bare wall and hang all of your colorful scarves, ties or belts on it. You can either hang the bar or other hanging device directly from the wall itself on mounts or suspend it from the ceiling overhead. Alternatively, hang your jewelry on your wall, necklaces, bracelets and earrings all arrayed together dangling from hooks. Another option is to hang hats on hooks across the wall. Think of it this way: if it is good enough for your body, it is good enough for your walls.

By Admin