A $100 DIY Instantly Transforms This Plain Dining Room (It’s Rental-Friendly!)

published Mar 7, 2024
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Rental Friendly

Even if you have white walls in your rental, there are ways to add personality and character to a blank rental surface. You could hang lightweight artwork, go for peel-and-stick wallpaper, lean a large mirror against the wall, or even let large potted plants serve as “wall decor.”

In this dining room makeover, renter Chloe Griffin (@chloejjari) adds a bit of architectural detail — picture frame molding, that is — to her apartment’s blank white walls.

“I knew I wanted to do molding somewhere in our home, and the dining room wall felt like the best place,” Chloe says, adding that it would create some visual separation in the open-concept apartment.

“The wall was just your basic flat eggshell-colored wall with nothing going on,” she says of the before. Here’s how she zhuzhed up her dining room without spending a ton.

Credit: Chloe Griffin

The boxes are made from basic pine trim molding. 

Chloe cut 96-inch-long pieces of basic wall and cabinet molding to fit the dimensions she was going for. “Aside from the tools, there is also a considerable amount of measuring involved in this project,” she says. In addition to her molding strips, she used a miter box, a hand saw, tape, and white spray paint for the project, and she estimates everything cost around $100. 

“You need to measure your entire wall in width, determine how far apart you want each outside frame to be from the end of the wall, and then determine the width you’d like each frame panel to be,” Chloe says.

Scrapbook tape was an essential tool.

In addition to the measuring, the second-hardest part of the project was finding an adhesive method that was thin enough for the pieces to be flush to the wall but strong enough to stay put. 

“Surprisingly enough, scrapbook double-sided adhesive did the trick!” Chloe says. “Extremely thin but an incredible hold.” Here’s the exact tape she used.

Credit: Chloe Griffin

Wooden appliqués in the corner add charm. 

Chloe also added a little extra decoration inside the boxes with triangle-shaped appliqués. She primed and spray painted those white, as well as the pine trim pieces. 

“It completely elevated this space into more than just four walls,” Chloe says of the added detail. “Visitors often say they couldn’t imagine this wall plain, and you always want to hear those kinds of compliments.”

Furniture finishes the space. 

The dining room is complete with a large ash dining table, Amazon dining chairs, sconces from Amazon, a candle holder from Crate & Barrel, and planters from HomeGoods. “Honestly, it is such a sophisticated look in the end,” Chloe says — and she has ideas for making the project suit your own personal taste if you decide to try this, too.

“You can do so much with picture molding,” Chloe says. “Add sconces like I did to the outer panels, add wallpaper inside the panels for dimension, or just leave it be because it stands on its own.” For further renter-friendly dining room wall molding inspiration, check out this $250 project that adds elegance to a plain dining room.