10 ways to dress up your walls without paint

By on Mar 23rd

Whether you can't paint because you're renting, or don't want to because it's a hassle, fear not! Here are ten ways to change your walls without painting them.

Starched fabric

kimono template

Photo by Elaphurus. Used under Creative Commons license.

You can pick out a lively roll of fabric (hi, Mexican oilcloth!), soak it in starch, and adhere it to the wall. It's purported to be easy to remove, though I don't even have secondhand experiences with that. Here's a simple tute using spray starch.

Vinyl decals


Photo by Abby Batchelder. Used under Creative Commons license.

They're all the craze. Available on Etsy, Amazon, and any number of other places.


By: Tim CroweCC BY 2.0

Use appropriately-proportioned shelves to add color, movement and interest to icky walls.

Shelves are also awesome because you can always change up what's ON them… rainbow-sorted books, anyone?

Bamboo blinds

Check your neighborhood Asian groceries — mine has an aisle of traditional hats, rice cookers, utensils, tatami mats and bamboo window shades. They sometimes have landscapes painted on them — and they get pretty large, pretty inexpensively!


Finished Convex Mirror for Kelly's Birthday

Photo by Morticide. Used under Creative Commons license.

Find a big mirror with an interesting shape or group smaller, less expensive mirrors together. Mirrors also add light and space to the room.

Start a collection


Photo by israel-avila. Used under Creative Commons license.

My friend Suzana has a plate wall. She's tightly grouped plates to make a dynamic and colorful swoosh in her kitchen. Each plate is worth looking at, and she now often receives additional plates as gifts.


Our kitchen table

6 wolf by Chris Roberts.

Okay, so this one's simple, right? Whether you frame a poster, make something, or buy an original, art adds a LOT of life to a wall.

No art? How about photos?

Photo Arrangement

Photo by palindrome6996. Used under Creative Commons license.

Print a few choice photos and spend an afternoon thrifting for frames. Mix or match or spraypaint — whatever works for you.

Ribbons or tape

Lenore shared her tape-and-tacks project on the Flickr Group:
all finished!

3M Strips

If you need to limit the holes you leave, peruse 3M's line of removable strips. I've done SO MANY THINGS with them (weirdest? Built a removable window screen) and have had good luck with their tack. You could hang framed work or use them to hang a whole panel of fabric.

That's all I've got. What'd I miss? How have you solved the I-don't-wanna-paint/my-landlord-is-a-bummer blues?

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About Cat Rocketship

I was the Managing Editor of Offbeat Home for a year and a half. I have a rich Internet life and also a pretty good real life. Hobbies include D&D, Twitter, and working on making our household more self-reliant. I also draw things.