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3 stylish ideas to refresh your walls — without paint

Cute wallpaper in bedroom

When you want to give your walls a new look, paint is often the first idea that comes to mind. However, slapping on a fresh coat of paint is not always so easy, nor is it always an available option. For example, if you live in a rented apartment, the landlord might not allow you the freedom of choice to make the permanent modifications that you want.

Even if you own your apartment, you might be so concerned about the mess and time that a paint job usually entails that you lose all determination. You know your walls look uninspiring, but when you think about dealing with the mess (and smell) of paint, not to mention the time that you are bound to lose in the process, the effort does not seem worth it.

Just because you’ve decided not to paint doesn’t mean that your walls have to remain dull. You just need to get creative and have fun choosing the right art and embellishments.

Here are three no-paint options for sprucing up the walls in your home.

Faux brick photo walls

Source: Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

This is for those who like to be surrounded by memories and pictures, but who aren’t keen on dragging out old photo albums just to see them. Why not simply decorate your walls with those pictures instead? That way, you will be able to look at them whenever you want and, instead of being faced with uninteresting walls, at least you will be surrounded by people, places, and memories that you hold dear.

Bear in mind that this effect works best with many pictures—enough to fill an entire wall. You will also need a bit of glue, tape, or whatever other (ideally easy to remove) method you prefer for attaching the pictures to the wall. Double-sided mounting tape is usually the best option, particularly when you do not want to damage the walls.

For the best results, the pictures need to be all the same size and should be arranged in precise rows. Leave only an inch or less between photos, and keep that distance constant), to create a “brick” effect. Depending on whether you print the pictures yourself at home or outsource them to a print shop, this project may turn out to be more affordable than a paint job.

Carpets add texture and depth

Most of us can call to mind images of classic bohemian homes, with walls adorned by carpets and tapestries full of rich hues and interesting images—tigers, dolphins, flowers, and other exotic patterns. In the past, rugs, carpets, and other types of tapestries were hung on walls to make them look more interesting while also keeping the room warmer. Perhaps your grandma still has one in her home, even today. As is so often the case, it’s a trend that seems to be coming back.

Therefore, if you have a particularly pretty carpet or rug that you want to show off, it can be the perfect solution for adding visual interest to that boring wall! Bear in mind that thinner carpets are usually best; a heavier fabric might be difficult to mount. Depending on the size and weight of your carpet, you may have to make a few holes in the wall for hangers, but for any lighter-weight carpet, double-sided tape should suffice.

If you are feeling particularly creative, you could even start with a plain-coloured rug, preferably white or any other shade that’s not too dark, and draw your own pattern using fabric paint. Think of it as your own blank canvas—and become your own Picasso! Depending on the type of rug that you are using, this may well turn out to be a more affordable option than traditional wall paint. Plus, unlike paint that needs touching up or scrubbing after some time, only the occasional rug cleaning will be needed to keep your walls looking fresh.

Cover with fabric

If you have unsightly patches on your wall that you want to cover up, ideally without the hassle of having to paint the whole thing, then you might want to try some strategically-placed fabric. For example, an ugly wall can be very simply covered by hanging a pretty drape or curtain. Imagine how cozy that bare wall could look completely covered in a pretty fern pattern, or any other design that you might find soothing and appealing.

If you do not want to have to hang curtain rods atop your walls, you can often simply staple the fabric directly onto the wall. Take a big piece of silk and staple it in looping patterns and swirls on your wall for an instantly elegant, classic feel—a dramatic effect that you would never be able to achieve with plain old wall paint!

If you live in a rented apartment and you can’t risk any damage to your walls—including any holes or stains—opt for some removable double-sided tape. That way, you’ll be able to remove the wall attachments right away if you don’t like the effect, or in the future when the time comes to move.   

Final thoughts

You don’t always need paint to spruce up your walls. Sometimes, just a little creativity and the right items are all you need for that much-needed transformation. Not only are most of these DIY projects very quick, they are also projects you can usually tackle by yourself, without having to hire a professional for the project making them very cost-effective — not to mention, highly enjoyable.

Image of Tony Kantzavelos

Tony Kantzavelos

Tony is the CEO of Love Your Rug - Canada's largest rug cleaning & restoration facility. He is an industry leader and authority in area rug restoration. Apart from successfully leading his team, Tony loves to share professional advice on how to give a fresh look to carpets, rugs and peoples' homes.