Painting Walls or Not: The Renter’s Dilemma

Savvy renters know that wall color can make all the difference in the world as to how an apartment looks and how it makes its occupants feel. This article explores ways to make a rental sing, whether or not painting walls is allowed in your apartment.

When on the hunt for your NYC rental apartment, keep in mind that once you find a space, you’re going to have to work to make it your own if you really want it to feel like home sweet home. One of the most dramatic (and yet one of the easiest) ways to change the look of a new space is by painting walls. A coat of paint can transform a dark, cavelike space into a bright, energetic one.

But what if you’re not allowed to paint the walls in your apartment?

Many landlords and rental management companies allow renters to paint the walls however they wish, as long as they paint them back to their original color when they leave. But, believe it or not, some landlords don’t allow tenants to paint their apartments. Here are some suggestions for spicing up your walls — whether you’re allowed to paint or not.

Check Before You Sign the Lease

For some people, the wrong paint color can provoke a visceral negative reaction that can only be cured by repainting the offending room’s walls. If you’re one of these sensitive souls, and yet you’ve fallen in love with an apartment that has everything going for it except its paint color, find out if you’ll be allowed to paint. Even if painting is prohibited, all is not lost: There are some amazing temporary fixes that you might want to try instead.

If You Can’t Paint Your Walls …

You love your space, but you hate the walls. Don’t despair; there are amazing temporary fixes that can help change the look of the room without requiring you to crack open a paint can.

  • Make use of temporary wallpaper, an absolute godsend for people unable (or unwilling) to paint their apartment walls. And if you think we’re talking about chintzy cabbage rose patterns, we’re not. We’re talking about modern wallpaper styles that can give your walls chic, contemporary flair. You can go with a simple pure-white paper to mask an undesirable paint job, or you can choose papers with bold patterns.
  • Go global with large exotic printed fabrics. Hang them on the wall on their own or have them framed. You can bring in a North African vibe by hanging Moroccan Beni Ourain rugs on your wall, or you can hang a giant quilt made by someone in your family.
  • Hang wall art that speaks to and celebrates your personality. For instance, steampunk enthusiasts can put up giant metallic timepieces.

If You Can Paint Your Walls …

So you’re one of the lucky ones, and your lease says painting walls is A-OK.

  • Think about what mood and vibe you’re trying to create in the space. Paint your walls a stunning white if you want to create a gallery-like backdrop for your art and furnishings. Or experiment with dark grays or even blacks if you’re trying to create a contemporary look and feel in your rooms.
  • Experiment with different types of paint. Metallic paint can be used in small doses to bring a sleepy room to life.
  • Use paint to enhance architectural elements you’d like to show off and to camouflage elements you’d like to draw attention away from.

Image Source: Flickr/Doug Waldron


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