How to Decorate Your Walls without Painting | My Move

How to Decorate Your Walls without Painting

Author: Roberta Pescow

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Painting is the trusted, traditional way to bring color and style to walls, but sometimes it just isn't an option. If you rent your home, painting your walls may not be permitted in your lease, or perhaps you just don't have the time and energy to take on a painting project at this time.

Whether you're a renter, a college student living in a dorm, or you just don't want to be bothered with paint, you'd be surprised how many other beautiful options you have for adding life and style to plain, white walls.

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Fabric Fun

When most people think about fabric decorating ideas, upholstery, window treatments or linens come to mind. A variety of fabric colors, patterns and textures also gives plain walls a lift and adds a distinct, cozy warmth that other wall decor can't offer. Here are a few ways to introduce fabric to your walls:

  • Rugs: Hang a large area rug to cover most of a wall, or a collection of smaller rugs. Depending on your personal style, rag rugs, hook rugs or Oriental rugs might work well as wall art in your home.
  • Throws: Colorful throws look great on walls, whether you spread them out flat or drape them over hooks with gently gathered sections.
  • Tapestries: Check out antique stores, garage sales and thrift shops to find gorgeous vintage tapestries that will grace your walls.
  • Embroidery: Frame embroidered samplers and hang them up for a cozy, country cottage look. You can even design and create your own samplers to display thoughts and inspiration that fit your personality and philosophy.
  • Fabric "wallpaper": Use liquid starch to hang the fabric of your choice like wallpaper without damaging the walls.
  • Framed fabric: Stretch fabric over frames to form dramatic wall art.
  • Curtains: Create a curtained wall with floor-to-ceiling drapes, cover part of a wall with pretty curtains for the illusion of a window, or choose curtains much larger than an existing window to hide more of your walls.

RELATED: No-Sew Curtain Ideas

Galleries and Collections

Hanging anything on your walls instantly breaks up the empty space and gives you an opportunity to express yourself. Some great options include:

  • Pictures: Display framed family photos, artistic photos, artists' prints, drawings or paintings.
  • Shelving: Mount some colorful or warm wooden shelves and show off your collection of sculptures, vases with flowers, glass bottles, sports trophies, decorative candles, crystals or anything else you love.
  • Surprising objects: For a cozy, whimsical feeling, hang some farm tools, wooden kitchen spoons, sports sticks or racquets, or decorative plates.
  • Posters: Your favorite large posters work quickly to brighten your room with images that are pleasing and meaningful to you.

If you're looking for a really unique way to work with hanging wall art, you might want to try a garden lattice. Hang a large lattice on your wall and then decorate it with strings of lights, silk flowers or other fun, decorative items.

RELATED: Photo Hanging Techniques That Won't Mar the Walls

Leaning and Standing Wall Décor

Some landlords are really strict about requiring tenants to fill every nail or screw hole they put in their walls before they move away. If this is your situation, you may not feel comfortable hanging larger items that might require mollies or multiple nails. Luckily, you've got options for covering walls with standing or leaning pieces that won't leave a single mark on your walls:

  • Choose tall furniture with shelving to cover plenty of wall space and show off your favorite decorative items at the same time.
  • Lean artwork or mirrors on floor or furniture, rather than hanging them directly on walls.
  • Stand a three-panel screen near a wall to bring elegance and a feeling of additional space to your room.

Sticky Solutions

Another way to decorate your walls without having to repair them later is to take advantage of non-damaging adhesives. You may want to try:

  • Wall decals: Whether you're looking for giant photos of your favorite sports heroes or delicate stencil-like designs, wall decals designed not to damage paint or walls offer instant decorating gratification.
  • Painter's tape: Since painter's tape doesn't damage walls, use it to hang posters or other lightweight decorations. Painter's tape also makes a unique wall decoration all by itself. Stick it on in stripes, diamond patterns or checks for the look of patterned wallpaper.
  • Command hooks: Use this new invention to hang pictures, mirrors, plates or anything else without damaging your walls.
  • Contact paper: If your home has plaster walls, stick on colorful contact paper for the look of wallpaper without the damaging paste. Be aware that this is only a solution for plaster walls. Contact paper may damage sheetrock walls.

RELATED: Make Quirky Art and Photo Frames with Washi Tape

With so many ways to decorate your walls, you'll be able to give your home a truly original look without even opening a can of paint. You may be so happy with your walls that you'll want to try paint-free decorating even when you don't have to.


 Ideal Home & Garden is your source for interior design trends, home improvement tips, landscape design, crafts and more. From beautiful lighting options to the best décor for every season, Ideal Home & Garden can provide the information you’re looking for.

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