Real-Life Renters With Vividly Colorful Homes…Despite a “No Painting” Rule

published Jul 13, 2017
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Minette Hand)

It’s a tale as old as time (well, as long as leasing agreements have been around): You find a rental apartment or house you LOVE…but you’re not allowed to paint the walls. Perhaps the walls are white or beige and you find them ho-hum. Or perhaps your rental walls do have color—but not color you like. What’s a rule-following tenant supposed to do? You could paint anyway (we won’t tell), but if you want to add the color you want without a paint brush (and get your security deposit back), take some notes from these three fabulous rentals.

Anyone would describe these rentals as bursting with bright hues, and best of all, they did it without painting the walls. Two of the rentals below work around white walls beautifully. And the last one works around light-colored walls that came with the rental. Consider these color case studies — they’re full of actionable and accessible ideas for adding color to a rental.

(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)


Anne-Aurelie and Dwayne’s rental has all-white walls. Yet, the home is swimming in color! How did they manage such a rainbow-hued palette without painting the walls?
(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

Drape with color

One oft-used strategy is to buy large upholstered furniture pieces in bold colors if you can’t (or don’t want) to paint your walls. But if you don’t have the budget for that — or don’t want the commitment — you can use colorful, patterned textiles and still make a big impact. In their apartment, Anne-Aurelie and Dwayne, employ a multi-colored checkered blanket to add a ton of color to the living room couch. You can also use this idea on a chair or even on a bed.

(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

Paint other things besides the wall

From large-scale pieces, like the stools in the living room, to smaller items, like this array of frames in the bedroom, this couple wasn’t afraid to pull out a small brush to paint small pieces. No one piece is huge or took a ton of color, but together, the color impact is colossal.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)


As a visual storyteller, Jennifer shouldn’t have to live with a colorless home. Though there are a lot of white walls in her rental, there’s plenty of bold color, too!

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Buy big and colorful furniture

It’s an easy solution (that will cost some money), but there’s no denying the huge visual impact that large-scale, boldly colorful furniture can have on a space. Particularly a boring white space! Incorporating large-scale colorful furniture pieces gives an impression of lots of color in a room in a way that lots of small accessories often can’t pull off.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Repeat color in small amounts

That being said, you can use small amounts of color successfully when you follow the “echo” rule. Echoing design elements around a home can make a space feel cozy, cohesive and connected. And when you use this rule with color, you’re essentially “spreading” the color around. So while you might not be surrounded by color on the walls, you’ll still feel surrounded by color when the same vibrant hues echo one another throughout the home.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Choose unexpected details that are colorful

Another way to “up” the impact of color is to use it in unexpected ways. Like on an art frame. The edge of a mirror. The shade on a light fixture. Curtain pull-back hardware. These places and more are spots you don’t always expect to see color, so when they are colorful, it’s visually powerful.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)


Color abounds in this Southern home, even though the apartment is full of lightly-colored walls that aren’t perhaps the color the occupant would have chosen.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Opt for a super-saturated amount of color in a single spot

Rather than spread color around a room, concentrate it by choosing one big area that’s the main source of color. This action will automatically create a focal point and make the color seem “louder” than it is.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

DIY your own vivid oversized art

When you can’t paint your walls, paint a giant canvas instead! Creating a show-stopping colorful abstract art piece will bring color into any room.