Living in a White Box: White Wall Syndrome

With a new year brings a refreshed outlook and new visions! Welcome to the first part of my new series, Living in a White Box. This blog series is all about how to make the most of your rental home, AKA the "white box." Many of us who rent cannot make changes to them like homeowners can. When updates like painting the walls or making structural changes is forbidden, this makes it challenging to put a personal stamp on your space.

The Decor Guru Living in a White Box series White Wall Syndrome decorating tips tutorials inspiration ideas apartment rental home

That's where the Living in a White Box series comes in. My series will feature tips on how you can customize your rental without breaking the rules. I'll show you how to infuse personality into your "white box" by highlighting tried and true projects of my own plus other bloggers' methods. We all deserve to live in a fabulous home, even if we don't truly own it.

Painting the walls is one of the best ways to add color to a room, but if you can’t that doesn’t mean your space has to suffer. My favorite alternative to painting walls is attaching large pieces of fabric to them.

You can accomplish this by hanging a large quilt or tapestry on the wall, like in this room.

You can also mount fabric to foamboard to create tiles and add your own pattern with paint, like I did a few years back.

DIY Fabric and Foamboard Painted Wall Art The Decor Guru

Or you can repurpose fabric as wallpaper. Stephanie from Cre8tive Designs has a great tutorial on her blog for adding fabric to the walls with cornstarch. This printed fabric does so much for her room!

Another option is creating a large bulletin board with fabric and foamboard, like Leslie from House on the Way did for her craft room. This is such a lovely method for adding color, texture, and pattern to a wall!

Emily from Designing the Nest shows how she jazzed up her bedroom by hanging panels of framed wallpaper. It’s a super easy project and a great way to cover a large area.

temporary wallpaper art by Designing the Nest

Do you love the chalkboard wall trend? Check out this temporary chalkboard wall makeover tutorial from Shelley from Crazy Wonderful. This would be perfect for a child’s bedroom.

Another DIY option for adding color and pattern to your wall is to paint a large piece of wood. I created this Mondrian-inspired wall art on a large piece of plywood underlayment.

DIY distressed color block wall art Expedit bookcases entertainment center with blue backing Mondrian plywood navy cobalt royal blue aqua The Decor Guru

Removable wallpaper and wall decals are also a great option for rented homes.

Courtney from It’s Pretty & Cheap made over her apartment wall with a chevron pattern using… electrical tape! I love how bold this is!

A room divider is a practical yet decorative way to incorporate blocks of color in a room. You can find out how to create this divider at Parents Magazine.

Lindsay from Dormify recounts how her dormmate made a punchy border for their space with paint chips. I love paint chip projects!

rainbow paint chip swatch wall decor

Here’s an even larger scale paint chip wall featured on Design*Sponge.

What are your favorite ways to counter White Wall Syndrome? Have you tried any of these examples in your homes?

Thanks for visiting! Let’s stay connected!

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22 Comments on Living in a White Box: White Wall Syndrome

  1. I love these ideas for adding a little colour. Our bathroom is just a white box so we have lime green towels and accessories. Iikea do a lovely bright crocodile shaped mat to go in the bath, to stop you slipping, which hangs on the wall when not in use like art for the bathroom wall. (Although I may be the only one in the house that loves the crocodile, I thought it was fun!)

  2. You have inspired me to try and stick some fabric on my walls – I’m in need for a colour change to get the creativity going – this could be it!

  3. Thank you Angela for sharing my tutorial on using fabric and starch on a wall. It REALLY is an affordable way to spruce up your white walls, AND you can reuse the fabric for another project after you take it off your walls. It holds up beautifully til the day you decide to take it down, and then it just peels off like butter with no damage to your walls. It’s an amazing trick to use, and affordable. {the removable wallpaper can get expensive for a large wall, this is a great alternative} I’ll never use wallpaper again now that I have used this method. Thanks again! Stephanie

  4. Ah, yes the white box! I’ve lived in 3 apartments so far and I’ve seen my fair share of white walls. Except now, in our current place, they pre-paint the walls beige. Which I totally thought was a plus when we moved in. At least it’s not white, right? WRONG! I’m now in a beige box, wishing for white. You win, universe! 😀

    This is a really great collection of ideas to spice up the boring! Thanks for sharing!

    • LOL, I am with you, sister! My new home is the same—cream colored walls and I’ve also found myself wanting the bright, sharp white walls I’m so accustomed to! Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  5. I love fabric but have never used it on the walls! Now I want to 😉 Love those foam boards w/ fabric…thanks so much for inspiring us a Twirl & Take a Bow! ox

  6. I love that you’re doing a series for people in rental spaces. These are great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing this with my Frugal Crafty Home readers!

  7. Thank you so much for including my DIY wallpaper in your post! Loving all of these great ideas 🙂

  8. these are great ideas! I actually like clean white walls, but I do like to hang things one them. We did rent for 5 years and were fortunate enough to have a landlord that let us paint! Thanks for sharing at Create Link Inspire!

  9. For the past 10 years I’ve had colored walls and now I’ve decided to return to white. lol Funny how your taste changes.

  10. Thanks so much for featuring my vintage wallpaper panels! I wrote up a little post mentioning your mention and how I used the liquid starch/fabric idea for the set of a short film!

  11. I am definitely interested in trying the temporary wallpaper to accent a wall in my living room area. Being in an apartment and renting, I’m very limited to what I can do with on the walls. My question is, does the removal of the temporary wallpaper truly not effect the walls behind it? What’s your experience with it and where would you recommend going to get it?
    By the way, I’d love for you to stop by my blog and check it out and if you like please follow…
    -Revamp any room! How To Paint Furniture –

    Warm Regards,

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