Home & Garden

When the landlord won't let you paint

If live in a rental with strict rules about painting, here are some ways to spruce up your space without changing the wall color.

* Install new light fixtures

Swap out the rental ceiling fixtures for your own vintage or modern finds. Keep the originals so you can reinstall them before you move out.

* Hang temporary wallpaper

Easy to hang and easy to remove, this is the perfect solution for drab white walls. Two good sources: www.tempaperdesigns.com and www.swdecorating.com.

* Make wall murals

Create large, easy-to-remove murals from your own digital photos. Designer Joe Ireland used MegaPrint Inc. (www.megaprint.com) to enlarge a photo of a vintage postcard, which he used to decorate an entire wall.

* Layer rugs

If you can't add color on the walls, put it on the floor. Layer a colorful patterned area rug over boring beige wall-to-wall for an instant pick-me-up. Cover cold tile flooring with FLOR carpet tiles.

* Add textiles

Fabric is the easiest way to add color, pattern and personality. Use it for pillows, throws, bed coverings, shower curtains and table skirts. Frame it or stretch it over a canvas for wall art.

* Hang mirrors

As an alternative to art, large mirrors work wonders in small spaces, making them appear bigger than they are. Hang a mirror directly across from a window to get a double dose of the outdoors.

* Paint furniture

Paint mismatched furniture the same color for a more cohesive look. Designer Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey offers this idea: Find inexpensive dining chairs, lacquer them and re-cover the seats yourself.

* Dress the windows

Replace metal blinds with inexpensive (and much more stylish) natural woven styles found at home improvement stores.