Ten Tips for Colorful, Paint-Free Decorating

Ten Tips for Colorful, Paint-Free Decorating

paint free decorating tips

Sometimes freshening up a space just takes a little pop of color.

by Victoria Fejfar

Spring is trying to work its way across the landscape, and now is a great time to consider adding some color to your apartment. An easy way to brighten up your landscape at home is to add a fresh coat of paint. However, some leases don’t permit painting, which can make decorating particularly difficult. Especially for those who are not so intuitively crafty, it may seem extra daunting to try and decorate without paint. But don’t despair! There are many tricks out there for your paint-free, DIY home decor needs.

Here are a few tricks to decorating paint-free that won’t break the bank and add a fresh feel to your interiors:

Creative Lighting

Your rooms already have ceiling lights, but they’re typically not very colorful or decorative. One way to brighten up the place and add some personality to the space is by adding some lighting. Try adding things like some decorative lamps, string lights, or DIY lanterns. Alternative lighting offers lots of options for colors, patterns, materials, and even colored light in any room. Double check your lights to make sure you’re using the correct wattage light bulbs, and consider LEDs or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to save energy and keep your apartment free from fire hazards.Pictures

One classic way to decorate open wall space is with picture frames. No need to worry about wall damage either with tools like Command Strips. Hang collages of your own photos or find a mix of prints in coordinating colors to brighten the space. A newly popular DIY method is to find a website like Chicfetti that offers free, frame-sized images that are ready to print. Some libraries even offer wall art that can be checked-out as long as you have a local library card.


Anything from rag rugs and geometric patterns to a monochromatic throw can add color. Bonus points:  they can be easily changed, moved, or swapped to ‘redecorate’ as well. On a budget? Find an inexpensive plain colored rug or carpet remnant and some painters tape, and you can create your own patterned rug before the dishwasher is done running.

Patterned Curtains

Another way to decorate without painting, is to add some new curtains. Even a neutral patterned curtains like a white and beige chevron will add dimension and a sense of movement to look at instead of the blank walls. Curtains are also versatile enough they come in many fabrics, colors, and sizes. Picking a neutral pattern will add dimension to the walls. A bolder color or material though, could easily bring some personality to living rooms and bedrooms. If you are adding curtain rods that require installation, you may need to fill holes or return the walls to original condition when you move out. You may want to check your lease for details, just to be safe

Upscale – Recycled Decorating

upcycled door paint-free decorating

This bookshelf pops out on a neutral wall. It’s made from an upcycled door.

There are many things that can be used for upscale decorating. Consider old doors, shutters, and wine bottles that have lots of inspirational ideas online. Wine bottles can be made into lights. Corks can be shaped into art or put in a frames for coasters, trays, and cork boards. Upcycling, can be very inexpensive, and is a Pinterest-lover’s best friend.


A trendier decorating method would be to add a tapestry in place of a headboard or behind a couch to serve as a statement decoration in a room. One of my favorite places to look is Redbubble.com. All of their products are designed by independent artists, so you know whatever you find is going to be very unique, modern statement anywhere.  

Organization Tools

Take advantage of the notorious storage space problem of apartments. Route number one, pick a color and style for your storage in plain sight and stick to it. This option will help to create a more sophisticated, cohesive look throughout the apartment. For ideas look at places like Target and Urban Outfitters. Route number two, pick lots of unique pieces that each add some color and personality. For example, instead of a traditional TV stand, use an old metal storage locker and add color with some spray paint out in the backyard.

Statement Pieces

DIY or store-bought, having some colorful trinkets is an easy way to decorate your space. Home decor doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Instead of your store-bought flower pots, try painting them metallic gold. Add a chalkboard to the kitchen area for your grocery lists, notes to roommates, or your week’s meal plan. Even just adding colorful pillows to your sofa or a little succulent on the end-table can add a homey touch.

Colorful Kitchenware

Embrace the colorful and decorative in your kitchen. Instead of plain, clear glasses, try some DIY tumblers or mugs. If you don’t want to take the DIY route, try shopping for your kitchenware at places that offer seasonal, colorful options or even at thrift stores. You can create a “set” of glassware or dishes by choosing pieces that are all the same color or style, even if they’re not a perfect match. Even though guests won’t see it every time they’re over, you get to enjoy having some more color around and it will be a memorable moment when you hand a guest an elephant mug for their tea or place cookies on a colorful spring plate.

Seasonal Decorations

There is a lot of potential for adding color with seasonal decoration. Instead of keeping just a wreath on the door for the holiday season, get a plain wreath and decorate it yourself. For the holidays, add holly, fake snow, and a couple poinsettias. For the Spring, add some pastel flowers and some Easter eggs. A vase can have both real and artificial flowers easily changed out for the seasons as well.

These are some of the tricks that I have used in my dorm and in my apartment. Many of my not-so-crafty friends have also used these DIY methods, too, with only minimal effort and time. Now you, too can use paint-free home decor to make your home more colorful and inviting!


About the Author: Victoria is a freelance journalist, who also happens to be a student pursuing Informatics and International Studies at the University of Iowa. In her spare time she is involved with multiple student organizations and volunteering, and she spends a lot of time in the weight room. If you don’t find her in class or at the gym, you’ll most likely find her hiding around campus with a good book.

Also by Victoria Fejfar:

10 Pet Hacks for Happy Apartment Living

No Comments

Post A Comment