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living room colorful accessories pale walls

Living room decor and choosing color palettes can go beyond paint. Here are 10 big no-paint options for decorating living rooms when paint isn’t an option.

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You’ve  just moved in to your new apartment or condo, or are thinking about it. You’re probably excited to pick up the paintbrush and color your walls just like the ones you see in interior decorating magazines. But then your landlord or housing association rep shows you a copy of your lease or property agreement and points out the unfortunate clause: You can’t paint the walls of your home. This is an unfortunate situation if you’re the type of person who wants splashes of color in your home, especially in the living room.

You can try convincing them about the importance of designing your living room so he or she will let you paint your walls. You can try and promise that you will have it painted back to its original color before you move out. This is a great compromise but not all property managers will agree to this.

No need to fret

You don’t need to fret just yet – there are lots of design solutions that can liven up your walls without having to use the paintbrush. There’s so much you can do with cheap materials, colorful furniture, and lots of imagination. So here are some of the no-paint design ideas for your wall that can transform your boring condo into a showcase:

1. Surround yourself with big, colorful art

DesignOvation Pineapple Gold Framed Canvas Wall Art SKU: 15170922

DesignOvation Pineapple Gold Framed Canvas Wall Art SKU: 15170922

If you’re forced to live in those white walls, make the most of the situation by hanging artworks in vivid colors. White is the perfect background for colorful art so you can pretty much hang anything without having to worry about clashing colors. The best place to hang attention-grabbing artwork is above the sofa or above the fireplace. This is the fastest and simplest way to brighten a living room.

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2. Install personalized art

If you can’t afford to buy expensive gallery art, you can still afford to make colorful wall ideas in your condo or home by making your own art and hanging them in strategic places. You can choose your favorite digital photos then have them blown up and framed.

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If you don’t mind splurging a bit, you can have the pictures printed on canvases. If putting up personal photos is not your thing, you can just buy pre-stretched canvases and paint at the crafts store and do your abstracts that you can proudly show off on your walls.

3. Make use of plants and flowers

Plants and flowers can make the living room look more interesting in a snap. Don’t just confine yourself to the green ones; you can choose multi-colored flowers to provide much-needed brightness in your living room.

Examples of plants that designers love to use for living room savvy designs are orchids, amaryllis, hibiscus, lemon trees, and fiddle leaf figs. These blooms can complement an existing color theme in the room. If you don’t have the patience to take care of living blooms, stick to artificial plants for lesser maintenance.

4. Get colorful throw pillows and throw blankets

colorful throw pillows white sofa

If your walls and couch have neutral colors, then let colorful throw pillows become the centerpiece of the room. You can mix and match colors and patterns to create an interesting look for your living room.

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5. Have fun with removable wallpaper

Walls Republic Contemporary Faux Brick Industrial Chic Brick Wallpaper SKU: 15067049

Walls Republic Contemporary Faux Brick Industrial Chic Brick Wallpaper SKU: 15067049

Wallpapers now come in easy-to-remove varieties, which is a blessing for renters who are not allowed to install old-fashioned wallpapers on the walls. You just need to peel the backing paper then paste the pattern to the wall. It’s that easy to install and remove. You can change wallpapers with less hassle and you can use the patterns as a makeshift headboard for the bed as well.

If you don’t have the patience to cover the entire wall with removable wallpaper, consider using wall decals instead. These are like big stickers that you can paste on your wall and will make it look like you have artistic patterns painted on them. Like removable wallpapers, it’s easy to install and remove. Wall decals work best on smooth, plain walls. Choose designs and patterns that will complement your existing furniture.

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6. Invest in colorful furniture

Modway Engage Upholstered Loveseat SKU: 15175872

Modway Engage Upholstered Loveseat SKU: 15175872

You can’t do anything about your walls but you can do something about your furniture. Go crazy with colorful couches, armchairs, and coffee tables that will make a statement in your all-white walls. If you’re the adventurous type, choose furniture with bold prints and intricate patterns.

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7. Make the floors look pretty

Yanchi Area Rugs Area Rugs - Recycled Paper Shag SKU: 10081390

Yanchi Area Rugs Area Rugs – Recycled Paper Shag SKU: 10081390

If you can’t touch the walls, then you can compensate by dressing up the floor using colorful and patterned rugs and carpets. If you let the floors make a statement, you have to choose neutral colors for your furniture so the patterns and shades won’t clash. From the floor, work your way up and choose window treatments that will complement the patterns on your flooring.

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8. Hang colorful tapestries

Flea markets are the best source for tapestries that can be used as substitutes for colorful paintings. Hang it at the center of the room and choose your furniture to complement it or vice versa. If you don’t have tapestries available, you can scour the market for cloths with native patterns and use them as wall décor.

9. Say it with lighting

Lamps are great for jazzing up living rooms because they are functional and can be used as décor at the same time. There are lots of funky-looking lamps to choose from, whether you prefer the vintage-inspired ones or the quirky, modern designs. If your landlord doesn’t mind installations on your ceiling, then consider putting a chandelier up there and let that become the statement piece.

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10. Use collectibles as décor

Collectors have interesting-looking homes because of the way they display their stuff. Books, toys, and records are great conversation starters and can speak volumes about the homeowner’s personality. A great shelf of collectibles will certainly attract attention when set against even the plainest of walls.

 A challenge to your creative abilities

Not being able to paint the walls of your rented home can be a drag but since you have no choice but to follow the terms of your lease, you have to come up with no-paint design ideas to decorate your living room. Use this as a challenge to your creative abilities so you can transform the look of your living room without having to use a paintbrush.

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Anna Rodriguez

Anna Rodriguez is a manager and a passionate writer. She owns Homey Guide Blog. You can follow her at @annrodriguez021