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No paint, No problem- Decorating an apartment when you can't paint

Posted by: Donje Putnam
wet paint

Usually when you live in an apartment, you cannot usually paint the walls without returning them to the original color or losing some of your deposit.  BUMMER!  And most of time the walls are plain ol’ boring white, although in recent years, our property has switched to a beige color that gives a little contrast against the white ceiling and trim, and warms up the apartment.

Nonetheless, for those more adventurous decorators, who don’t want to pay or re-paint their apartments, but still want some pizzaz, there are great alternatives to paint out there to pep up your walls!

Removable wallpaper/decor- From trees to dots, to pithy sayings to color, vinyl cut outs and removable wallpaper let you add color to your walls and take it with you when you leave (although you may not be able to use it again). Just peel it off when you move out.

If you are afraid to commit to a whole wall of color, why not show your personality with a pet profileor share family photos with this family tree?

Make sure that you do not accidentally purchase “repositionable” wallpaper, which is just meant to be removed and reapplied to straighten the pattern, but eventually forms a tight bond to the walls.  

Painter's Drop Cloths- For an inexpensive and yet powerful punch of color, purchase a painter’s drop cloth and paint or dye it a bright color.  Dying creates a linen type look, and paint makes a stiff cloth.  Insert grommets at the top and hang from twine or hooks. Alternatively, you can sew a tube or pocket the length of the cloth, like those used to hang curtains.  Or choose a plain drop cloth and stencil your favorite saying and hang it in your living room as a piece of art.  Drop cloths can also be made into curtains, shades, pillows and a multitude of other decorative items to add easy, inexpensive color to your apartment.  Check out the links to Housetweaking and Martha’s tips below for colorful inspiration.

Fabric-  Though the price of fabric has certainly gone up, there are still bargains to be had! Look for Joanne’s or Michael’s coupons in the paper and purchase some to hang, not unlike the drop cloth above, as a background for your sofa. Or if you have some leftover sheets or pretty dresses, you could cut the fabric and insert it into frames or embroidery hoops and hang a collage of color.  Quilts would also be a beautiful way to spruce up your walls.  Make sure you hang them carefully to avoid damaging them.  

Adding color through creative alternatives like removable wallpaper and drop cloths help you give your place a unique look, and whether it's your first apartment, your retirement get away or any stage in between, it is always nice to make your space your own.


Filed Under: Apartment Living

About the Author
Donje Putnam Gravatar
Donje Putnam

Donje Putnam has over 15 years experience in the multi-family housing industry and has worked at many different types of apartment communities, from tax credit to high end and from 88 units to 400.  Her favorite thing about being in "the industry" is that you learn a little bit about everything!  She lives in Newport News, VA with her husband, two kids, a very calm dog, a very hyper dog and a very aloof cat. 


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