How to Add Color When You Can’t Paint Your Rental Walls

published Aug 31, 2017
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Color lovers who area also renters (and can’t paint your walls), rejoice! You CAN have a colorful home even if wall paint is against the rules. Interior designer Rachelle Padgett didn’t let the no-wall-color constraints of her small rental apartment get her down. Instead, she got creative. And the tricks she used to add more hues to her home could easily be translated to any home.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Concentrate color

One of the first things you notice in Rachelle’s rental is how she groups and plays around with color in concentrated spots. By pooling color together, it becomes more visually powerful.

In just this one small area in her living room, she’s layered two multi-colored rugs on top of each other. Using Command hooks, she hung an array of bold art from a variety of sources, like affordable online shops Minted and Society6. To cap off this colorful living room composition, she added a collection of leftover tile samples from her interior design business that add texture and color to the white wall — and all she did was lean them against the wall. This is one time when renters just may find themselves going tile shopping.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Big furniture = big color

Whether you incorporate a big upholstered piece like a sectional or rehab a thrifted item with paint, choosing to use lots of loud color on large pieces of furniture will instantly make a space feel more colorful than it is (without having to paint the walls). Your eye will “read” the large areas of color in a comparable way to how they read colorful walls.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Your bed is your bedroom’s secret color weapon

Do not discount the impact that your bed can play on how colorful your bedroom feels. Even if you can’t surround your room with the hues you want on the wall, you can make a big color impact just with bedding. You’ll make your bed the focal point, and the strong burst of colors emanating from this spot will visually reverberate throughout the room.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Lots of small doses can get the job done, too

One of the primary reasons Rachelle’s white-walled rental is so successful at looking colorful is actually quite small: Along with the design tools listed above, she also made sure that color showed up in small ways throughout all the rooms. From the carefully and colorfully styled shelf in the living room, to the bold shower curtain in the bathroom, to even the easy update of blue knobs in the kitchen, all these mini areas of color count. They help support the other color stories she’s created in her home, making each room feel cohesive and balanced.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)