How to Decorate Your Apartment Without Wallpaper or Paint

By Ronique Gibson

You’ve just moved into a new apartment, but the leasing company won’t let you paint or add wallpaper to the walls. Instead of resigning yourself to boring beige, open yourself up to creative uses of everyday decor to bring style and color to your new home.

From favorite collections to oversize art, there are a myriad of ways add pizazz to your walls without lifting a single paintbrush. At the end of the day, you may actually be happy that you were forced to think outside the box! Here are three ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Turn your favorite collection into a wall collage.

Whether you collect objects from your travels or you inherited an heirloom collection, you may have some beloved belongings that are just gathering dust on a shelf—or maybe even in a box stashed away under the bed. Give your collection the spotlight it deserves by hanging it on the wall! Musical instruments, clocks, vintage tools, and even sporting equipment—like these tennis rackets—can decorate the wall while giving a glimpse into your personality. Antique dishware and artisan pottery make beautiful wall hangings as well, and they can be displayed on your wall in a variety of configurations. We’ve even seen Pez dispensers get the wall art treatment! If you’re not allowed to drill holes into your wall, look to your local home improvement center. In the picture-hanging section of the store, there are a variety of “no hole” picture hanging kits that include wire, and adhesive hooks that don’t leave a residue when removed.

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Display everyday items in an artful way.

Sometimes the items we use every day are the most beautiful. From kitchen tools to fashion accessories, these overlooked items can be used to add color to your walls. For instance, a wooden ladder leaned up against a wall can display vibrant Turkish towels in the bathroom or cozy blankets in the living room. The example above is both functional and fashionable—it offers an easily accessible place to store accessories while adding interest to the walls. What creative everyday items do you have lying around your apartment?

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Let framed art lean against the wall for a dramatic look.

Large-format artwork can have a big impact in a space, but it’s also difficult to hang without creating some serious holes in the wall. If that’s not an option, a good way to display your larger prints is to simply prop them up against the wall. Consider painting frames different colors or even metallic spray paint, a little trick that can transform an inexpensive frame into a sophisticated one. The look is at once casual and dramatic, perfect for the master bedroom or dining room.

Now that you’ve seen creative ways to decorate your walls with your favorite collections, everyday items, and framed artwork, the challenge for you is to figure out where to start! Living in an apartment shouldn’t be limiting when it comes to decorating. Use these simple ideas and your own design inspiration to revamp your apartment walls without upsetting your landlord.

Ronique Gibson is a LEED-certified architect with over 13 years of experience working in the home design industry. Gibson blogs for Shutterfly, and loves sharing her renter ideas for fun wall art and interior décor tips.