How to Brighten a Room Without Painting


Since painting can be a tricky thing in a NYC apartment (and is often forbidden by landlords), here’s how to brighten a room without ever opening a paint can. Remember, just because you can’t paint doesn’t mean you can’t be bold.


Painting a NYC rental can be tricky, and you may very well be wondering how to brighten a room without making the time and financial commitment of painting (and then repainting before you move out).

Luckily, there’s plenty you can do without ever opening a can of paint. Below are six tips for adding a pop of color.

1. Go with Bright Upholstery

Colorful rugs, pillows, throws, window curtains, and even brightly upholstered furniture can add a bit of splash to an otherwise unexciting room. If you don’t want to invest in a new couch, buy a colorful slipcover instead (note that a solid, bright-colored cover is more versatile than a pattern).

2. Hang a Big and Bold Painting or Photograph

Pick a big and bold piece of artwork to hang on the wall(s), which can add color (and dimension) without changing a wall’s color. Hang a painting, a photo, or a tapestry over the couch or bed, and it becomes an instant focal point. Just note that if you make significant holes in the wall with nails, you should probably spackle them up before you move out, or risk losing some of your security deposit.

3. Do It With Decals

Wall decals are a great way to add an artistic flair to your walls, and the good news is that they can be peeled right off when it’s time to move out (some can even be saved and used at your next apartment). Sticker art graphics come in all kinds of designs — from nature scenes to inspirational quotes to stripes — and they are especially popular for nurseries and kids’ rooms.

4. Channel Your Green Thumb

Buy some colorful plants (in colorful vases), which will also improve air quality in the room. Green, of course, is a dynamic color on its own, but a plant with flowers is even better for getting that bright effect.

5. Paint the Furniture Instead of the Walls

If you have some wooden or white furniture, jazz it up a bit by painting it a bright color. It’s a relatively easy DIY project that almost anyone can do with a few simple tools in a couple of days, max.

6. Show Off Your Inner Bookworm

If you don’t want to buy anything new at all, bookshelves lined with colorful books can add a subtle pop of color.

So even if your landlord says no to painting (or you simply don’t want to deal with the time, hassle, or cost of painting in NYC), there’s no excuse for living in a blah space. Now that you know how to brighten a room without painting, get to it! Try these tips out on your New York home.

Image Source: Flickr


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  4. Carrie Glover
    August 20, 2015

    Great tips. In my old apartment my walls have been very dark green. It was a nightmare. My mom put the big orange painting. It sounds awful but it was not. Thank you for sharing your tips. Best regards!


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