Renting has a lot of benefits, but one of the more frustrating parts is how limited your options for customization seem to be. Some landlords won’t even allow you to change the paint on the walls, which is becoming increasingly common. If you want to add color when you rent or contrast to a space, this can seem very restricting and make it hard to imagine how you can put your own stamp on the place so that it feels like a home and not a rental.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to bring large doses of color into a space without even touching the walls. They’re all quick and easy to implement, not to mention very affordable if you shop smart or DIY. I find that having limitations in what you can do actually forces you to be more creative and this is definitely one those instances where that rings true.
Add Color When You Rent
Here are six creative ways to add color when you rent without painting the walls.
1 USE DECORATIVE FOLDING SCREENS. Buy a decorative folding screen and mount it to the wall as a whole, or for more impact, separate the pieces and hang them a few inches apart. To add even more of your personality, find a plain screen and cover it with a fabric you love, paint it in your favorite color or use it as a canvas for your own artwork.
2 COVER A LARGE CANVAS WITH FABRIC. Remove the frame from the canvas, wrap with your favorite fabric and staple. It’s that simple. Your local secondhand store is a great source for large canvas artwork. Not only are the prices good, but it won’t matter what the picture is because you are going to cover it with fabric. For a slightly different look, use several different sizes of canvas and cover them each in a different but coordinating fabric, then create a collage by grouping them together on the wall. (If colors from the picture show through your fabric, prime the picture first and then paint it with a color that is closest to your fabric’s background color.)
3 PAINT YOUR FURNITURE. Painted furniture is a fabulous way to bring in much needed color. This is one of my favorite ways to add color. I have a cabinet with great lines that I have painted so many times over the years that I swear it is a couple of inches bigger than it was when I first got it.
4 HANG DRAPES ON THE WALLS. Drapes are a great way to bring color and texture to a room, and not just on the windows. Here’s how to make a drapery wall:
Mount the drapery rod as close as possible to the ceiling or the edge of the crown molding; if the drapes have a header, leave enough space as necessary to accommodate it. (The header is the part of the drapes above the pocket the rod slips into. It’s not included in the drape length.) Run the rod the full length of the wall you want to cover, then hang the drapes from the floor to the ceiling. You can use straight panels or go for fullness with gathered panels. For fullness, the width of your drapes should be 2 – 2½ times the width of the wall space you want to cover. You can find extra long extension rods at your local home improvement or decorating store. There are also special brackets available that let you hang curtains from the ceiling. Ikea has several different options at very good prices.
For more tips on hanging drapes or curtains, check out my no-fuss guide here.
5 ACCESSORIZE WITH COLOR. No room is complete without the accessories. Here is where you can throw in as much color as you can want. Pillows, art, plates, vases, flowers, etc. are all opportunities to bring in color, design, personality, and give the room a cohesive look.
6 USE AREA RUGS. Area rugs not only define a space, they also add color and cover unsightly flooring. You can put them on bare floors and over wall-to-wall carpeting. Yes, it’s okay to layer rugs. With a colorful rug over plain “apartment beige” carpeting or worn out floors, the rug becomes the focal point instead of the flooring. To keep rugs from slipping, use carpet tape or rug pads. Make sure rug pads are the appropriate size for the measurement of the rug.
Sometimes we have to learn to work around things that we can’t change. Just because your landlord won’t allow you to paint doesn’t mean you can’t have a well designed and colorful room. You now have some options for adding color when you rent and without painting the walls! Let me know how it goes; send me your pictures. I’d love to see what you’ve done. If you have other ideas, please share them with me. I look forward to hearing from you!
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