World's Largest Selection of Decorative Switch Plates

Ideas for decorating an apartment without paint

Apartment dwellers may feel limited in their decorating efforts because they can't always paint their walls, but there are plenty of ways to beautify without paint.

It might seem daunting at first: You want to give your rental apartment a fresh look but the lease won't allow repainting. Walls are typically white, eggshell or perhaps light gray, and you'd prefer to see more vibrant colors in the living space.

Actually, the neutral wall color is good news, since you now have an easel, so to speak, for expressing your taste and personality. For example, if you cherish a lovely wall hanging of the tulip fields of Holland, you can rest assured the light gray or white paint will accentuate the piece and present it in its best light. This is true of all artwork, which is rarely improved by hanging it on a green or orange wall. 

You don't have to own or buy expensive artwork, either. Besides combing flea markets or garage sales for watercolors or prints that you find appealing, you can also create your own art by framing a length of fabric that works with your space and with the other items, such as personal photos, that you choose to include.

Don't overlook the small details: Decorative switch plates and plug covers, available in literally thousands of materials, themes and colors, can be just what you need to customize a cookie-cutter space and are easily installed with a screwdriver. When you move, take them off and replace them with the original standard switch plates.

Cover the carpet with area rugs
If yours is like most apartments, you have serviceable carpeting that's functional but hardly fashionable. Real Simple magazine suggested topping the carpet du jour with a vintage oriental rug, which manages to be faded and richly elegant at the same time. You can, however, use any area rug to achieve the look you're seeking.

Southern Living magazine recommended laying area rugs over carpet for the textural advantages. Not only does the right area rug add texture, but it helps define a space: For example, a living room area might be topped with a braided jute rug and the bedroom with a charming needlepoint version.

Open up with mirrors
Finally, consider adding mirrors wherever you can, since they open up a space, add interest and reflect light beautifully.

Somewhat under-appreciated as a decorating tool, a mirror, perhaps set in an antique picture frame, can help transform the uniform square footage of your rental apartment into a satisfying and lovely living space.

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