How To Personalize Your Pad When You Can’t Paint

One of the easiest ways to personalize your apt is to paint. You roll up your sleeves and, ideally, beg some friends to help. It can really light up a room, but sometimes there are reasons why painting isn’t an option. Either your landlord won’t let you, you already have too much furniture that moving it would be difficult, or, perhaps you just can’t stand the bitter smell of new paint.

Never fear, there are definitely plenty of other cool, inventive ways to make your new place feel like home.

Personally, I still think color is still key — and there are tons of other easy ways to add color sans paint.


Greetings From My Living Room Wall

What you’re looking at to the left is actually my living room — I couldn’t paint so I hung a nice, exotic tapestry on the wall ( it’s not actually faded — need a new lightbulb!).  I also hung picture frames ($10 each at Brooklyn Flea Market) with colored paper. Most cities have garment districts so that’s definitely a good bet in terms of where to find interesting fabrics.  Chinatowns can also have some great fabric stores — especially the one in Boston!  And if there’s an Indian store selling sari fabric you’ll have amazing choices.

Apartment Therapy also suggests framing wall paper samples and or/paper from the Paper Source, another easy, cheap way to make art. The site has plenty more DIY ideas, including creating an art hanging structure, which, to be honest, kiiinda intimidates me but I’m sure you, lovely readers, are far more crafty than me!

Apartment Therapy also suggests adding a rug and it’s definitely a good one idea — although rugs can be more $$ than one might originally think. Normally, I’d suggest Craigslist, but with bedbugs being rampant (they even attacked the Empire State Building!), it may be wise to wait until a friend/family member wants to get rid of a rug to ensure it’s safe. You can also find  some good rugs at Target where they run even cheaper than at IKEA.

Finally, something I’ve always wanted to play with – wall decals. Blik has some really cool options, no matter your needs.  One living room idea is their Sweet 16 — aka 16 fun color circles.   But, wait, there’s more! A neato bedroom option, should you not have the $ for a headboard, takes the form of a variety of decal headboards.

What do you guys think? Any other cool, easy ways to add non-permanent color?

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Author My First Apartment

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (7)

  1. Avatar Trish

    Hi Alissa, Thanks for sharing your ideas. That’s the disadvantage on living at pads and apartments but repainting the interior is also expensive so what i did on my wall as a photographer was, i fill it with frames of photographs that i made.

  2. Avatar Daphne

    I have a lot of shelves and it would be really hard to move them all by myself just to paint.. I think I’ll go with paintings and portraits but It’ll be my paintings so that I can save more money and have that “this room is mine” feel. Thanks for the tips Alissa

  3. Avatar Tedah

    I plan to get a printer with color ink to print out pictures to hang. I love to take pictures of different things so that could be different.

  4. Avatar Fennecy

    If painting is not allowed you can buy fabric and stick it to your walls. I think you used corn starch or something similar, and it peels right off when you’re ready to move(or just for a change) and cleans right up with water. I saw this on the design sponge website.

  5. Avatar Jen

    These are some really good ideas. I’m going to be moving into my first apartment in a few weeks so I’m glad I found this site. Anymore tips?

  6. Avatar Amber

    I would like to see some more tips. None of those really fit me. But great advice anyways! :]

  7. Avatar Bobby

    Thanks for all this advice. I never realized I could decorate my walls with something other than wallpaper or paint. This website is a godsend.