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Know Some Alternative Ways to Decorate Your Room Walls Without Paint

Derek Rohde

You're going over your lease as you start thinking about how you will decorate your apartment. You've already made a shopping list and purchased a few paint chips from your local hardware store.

You're doing your homework, checking the language in your rental agreement for any restrictions that might affect your plans for how to decorate a wall, and you discover you can't paint as you continue reading; a sense of panic sets in. Then there was a relief.

You are not permitted to paint, but you may use nails to hang items before leaving as long as you fill them in. There is still hope for how you imagined your apartment to look, and now it's time to figure out how to make your apartment décor stand out with other ideas, like masking tape, hanging photos, paper wall art, fake flowers, and shelves, etc.

Bringing a Room Together

The furniture and accessories you place in a room only make it half-complete, and the decorative elements you add complete the job by tying the room together. Consider the room's overall aesthetic when buying throw pillows, rugs, small display items, or deciding what to hang on your walls.

Tonya Lee of The Spruce offers the following color-coordination advice:

  • Incorporate bold colors to make a small space appear larger.
  • If you want to stick to a dark color scheme, go with a monochromatic color scheme.
  • Make an accent wall with a large piece that stands out from the rest of the room.
  • Reverse your color scheme by using neutrals for wall décor and bolder colors for furniture.

Considering color when deciding what to hang on your walls can help to unify a space. Even if you cannot paint, the color of the decorative elements you choose is critical. Here are some ideas for decorating a wall without using a paintbrush.

1. Temporary Wallpaper 

Temporary wallpaper is a thing, and it's becoming increasingly popular as a design trend in the United States.

Temporary Wallpaper

The concept of temporary wallpaper is straightforward, but does it work? Most reviews claim that temporary wallpaper comes off relatively easily, though, as previously stated, some brands can leave marks.

If you're renting and concerned about leaving marks on the wall, we recommend requesting a sample and testing it on a small wall area.

2. DIY Wall Design Using Masking Tape

This method is a little more difficult because it requires you to use colored and decorative easy-peel tape to create custom designs on your wall. One of my personal favorites, you can make some really cute designs for the cost of a few rolls of tape (which isn't very expensive), and the possibilities are endless!

The best part is that the masking tape will come off cleanly and easily, so you won't have to worry about leaving any marks!

 3. Papercraft

Papercraft is a collection of crafts using paper or cards as the primary artistic medium for the creation of two or three-dimensional objects. Paper and card stock lend themselves to a wide range of techniques and can be folded, curved, bent, cut, glued, molded, stitched, or layered. Papermaking by hand is also a papercraft.

Paper craft

3D papercraft is not only creative but also keeps you busy. They bring an edge to your house that nothing else can.

 4. Hanging Art/Photos

The key to hanging wall art is to use removable wall hooks. These do not require nails or glue and can be removed easily, leaving no trace behind. One disadvantage is that they won't be able to support very heavy frames, so keep that in mind if you don't want to wake up in the middle of the night to a huge SMASHING noise.

When you have large, bare walls, hang your art/photos in a way that makes the space look a lot more interesting.

5. Lights


Lights are not the first thing that comes to mind when considering a paint substitute, but they are quite popular and come in various styles. Adding a light fixture that complements the room's style, LED strip lights that add color and lighting, or string lights that bring a3D papercraft aspect and mood lighting can all distract from or change the appearance of the paint.

 6. Wall Decals

It's easy to see why wall decals are becoming increasingly popular. They are reasonably priced, but they are also extremely simple to install and can completely transform a drab wall.

Wall decals are essentially large stickers, but unlike traditional stickers, they are extremely easy to remove from walls, making them an excellent choice for renters.

 7. Tile Transfers

Do you have a drab tiled kitchen or bathroom? Don't worry. You can also decorate them! Tile transfers (or tile stickers) are a quick and easy way to add character to a tiled room without the hassle (and cost!) of re-tiling the entire room.

Tile transfers, available in most US home stores, are similar to wall decals but are not always as easy to remove. The longer you leave them, the more difficult removing them, though it is not impossible with elbow grease and water. However, it is something to keep in mind.

 8. Stretched Fabric & Tapestries

We are now obsessed with the idea of using fabric to decorate walls. Is it, however, a realistic possibility? There are several methods, and this one emphasizes that while attaching fabric is easier than painting, it is also more expensive. This method also employs screws, which are often prohibited when renting.

Stretched Fabric & Tapestries

But you don't have to go all out with a fabric wall. Choose a tapestry, such as this gorgeous renaissance design. You can attach it with various methods, including drapery rods, Velcro strips, coat hangers, and curtain poles.

 9. Fake Flowers

This one gets an A+ for originality – and it's so easy! Masking fake tape flowers to the wall creates a '3D Wallpaper' effect.

But you don't have to limit yourself to fake flowers; get creative and use something equally impressive.

 10. Shelves

Shelving is ideal in this case because it serves two functions: storage and decoration. Wall shelves, as a more permanent feature, will be difficult to remove without having to refill/repaint the wall.


On the other hand, large shelving units can be used to break up a boring wall if you have the space. Another advantage of using shelves is that you can change what they display, allowing you to quickly transform the room if you get bored or want to create a new theme.

 11. Bamboo Blinds

Yes, we know that blinds are for windows, but bamboo roller blinds, in particular, look fabulous as wall panels. This technique also works with straw beach mats – believe us!

 12. Brick

Brick is frequently used (retained) in converted warehouse condos to give them that popular industrial look. However, you can easily add a3d wall décor to your home, whether you use real brick, a faux brick adhesion product, or brick-design tile. We’d recommend the brick-design tile because it has the texture of real brick but is less expensive, takes up less space, and is less heavy.

 13. Wall Tiles

Wall tiles are similar to wall decals in that they are intended to cover the majority, if not the entire surface of the wall. When they are removed, their adhesive application, like wall decals and temporary wallpaper, does not damage the paint or the wall. Traditional tile, wood, brick, and backsplash are the most popular design elements.

 14. Wall-Length Curtains

Curtains do not have to be used only to cover windows, and they can be used to add design elements to a variety of rooms, including bedrooms as headboards, room dividers, and even as décor.

Make a feature wall out of a curtain, or use it to create a focal point in the center of the room. This method also makes your windows appear larger.

 15. Build-in Cabinetry

Building full-wall cabinetry is a significant commitment because it is expensive and relatively permanent. However, it can look amazing with the right design while also providing a lot of storage.

 16. Aquarium Wall 

You can turn an entire wall into an aquarium for a unique look. This is the most expensive paint alternative, but it's extremely cool and one-of-a-kind. It requires a lot of upkeep, so you must be dedicated and a fish lover.

 17. Showcase Your Collection

Showcase Your Collection

Do you have any items in your collection? Display this collection on your wall as a gallery. It is one-of-a-kind and also adds character to your home. To make an eye-catching feature, display your plates or even your keying.

 18. Folding Screens

Folding screens are portable and adaptable pieces of furniture that can be used as temporary petitions, headboards, or even as décor against a wall. 

Use a transparent design with a  unique table lamp  behind it to create an illuminating romantic feel or a bold, striking screen against a neutral wall to add a splash of color.

Attach photos or pictures to create a gallery effect to make more of your screen. This eliminates the need for renters to attach pictures to the wall, which can be a hassle.

Folding screens can be purchased new, but we prefer to scour vintage shops and Etsy for more unique and quirky designs.

 19. Bunting/Garlands

Another popular trend that the Queen's diamond jubilee revived in 2012 is bunting and garlands. Making your garland is a fun weekend DIY project, especially if you have kids, and it's a simple way to add color to a blank wall.

 20. Stone

A full stone wall is not the cheapest option, but you have to admit that it looks amazing. Anytime you incorporate natural materials into your home, it will undoubtedly look fantastic. We especially like the type of stone shown above.

 21. Hang Guitars/Bikes to Walls

This technique, once again, doubles as a great space saver, which is ideal if you live in a small space.

 Hanging your possessions on the wall is a simple and effective way to fill empty wall space and add a sense of identity and personality to your interior design.

Painting, Who Needs It?!

Decorating your apartment to suit your style is possible even if you can't paint your walls your favorite color. Using any of these ideas can help give your home a unique look and feel in color harmony.

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