Five Dollar Decor - Unexpected Wall Coverings

Every Friday, I'll be posting Five Dollar Decor--five ideas for interior decorating that can be achieved by spending only five dollars. For five dollars, you can add one new element to your in-home design. For twenty-five, you can revamp an entire room around a new theme. Hmm... a trip to Starbucks, or a weekend redecorating project?

If you live in an apartment or other rental property, there's a fair chance that you're going to be limited in your decorating options. Wallpaper, for instance, is right out. Occasionally you might get a landlord who will let you paint, but those tend to be few and far between. In general, if you rent an apartment, your walls are probably white or beige and, while you might be allowed to put nail holes in them, you can't paint.

So, what can you do to cover up the expanse of blank wall that you're inevitably stuck with? You can hang artwork, sure, but although posters and prints aren't always pricey, frames are.

In the spirit of recycling and innovation, I have collected five ideas for room-changing wall treatments that are rental-friendly, inexpensive, and unique. The best advice I can offer you for how to use them is to create BIG pieces. I lived in an apartment once where we didn't plan out our artwork well and ended up with a bunch of too-small frames and shelves scattered around the walls, and all they did was emphasize the negative space instead of filling it.

1. Hanging Carpet

This is the most common and therefore the least unexpected of these suggestions, but it is still probably not your go-to idea for when you are trying to come up with a way to hide the vast blank beigeness of your living room. Carpets go on the floor, after all--or DO they? If you're lucky, you might own a small carpet or rug that is pretty enough to go up on your wall, which will make this a free project. If not, a little dedication and time will probably lead you to a cheap one at a thrift store or yard sale. Surprisingly, I wasn't able to find a picture of this, and I have no carpets hanging in my home at this time (mainly for lack of carpets to hang), so you'll have to use your imagination.

2. Coffee Filter Art
Yes, that's right, I said coffee filter.  Try painting or coffee-staining these, cutting them into various sizes, and thumbtacking them to your wall in a large, swirling design. If you plan it out a little bit before you start tacking things up, you can end up with something that looks like a gigantic swirl of dandelion seeds flying across your wall , and you can cover a huge amount of space with a single packet of filters. (Photo and concept from the haystack needle via Daily Danny)

3. Scrapbook Paper

A sheet of 12x12" scrapbook paper runs between 25 and 50 cents at Joann's and Michaels, depending on  sales. The DIY Maven over at mounted hers on 12x12" squares of styrofoam and covered the edges with ribbon, which she said should run about $50 for all materials.

$50? Really? I'm planning to do this, and the way I plan to do it is to mount my scrapbook paper on foam display board, which should run me about $2 at the Dollar Tree, or $4 if I want to double up my squares of foam display board to get a similar thickness as the styrofoam.

Make at least four of these and hang them in a tightly clustered group. Remember, the goal this week is to cover as much space as possible for as little money as possible.

4. Tin Cans

Now we're getting into the crazy and fun stuff. I hate throwing away cans because I always imagine that someday I will come up with a use for them. Well, now I have.  Peel off the labels, wash everything up, and then group them on your wall for a piece of functional modern decor.

Obviously this isn't going to work with every decorating style--sadly, I don't think it would look right in my house at all--but this would look fabulous with utra-modern, industrial, or 50's and 60's retro decor. If you painted the cans instead of leaving them silver, that would probably also make a fair amount of difference and would make this a more versatile look. (Photo and instructions from GreenUpgrader)

5. Mystery Object

Ok, this isn't really a mystery, but I think it's so clever and has such a huge visual impact, that I'm going to show you the picture first and let you figure it out.

Are you ready? Here's the picture:

Can you tell what it is that's looking so cool up there on that wall?

Ok, ok, I'll tell you--it's leftover styrofoam trays from grocery store-purchased fruits, meats, and vegetables, stuck to the wall with silver pushpins.

I can't even find words to express how cool I think this is, taking useless garbage and turning it, with a minimum of work, into a fantastic piece of decor. I'm going to have to start saving styrofoam.

I passed up a bunch of really fun and unique ideas for this post, including wall art made of cutlery, hanging collections of painted bundt pans or colorful colanders, and ConTact paper stripes and polka dots. Try thinking outside the box--anything can become art if you hang it on the wall and arrange it thoughtfully.

If you rent your home: Always be sure of the rules before you start decorating. Our landlord is ok with nail holes, but not all of them are. Be sure you know what you're doing before you begin.


  1. Great ideas for decorating within a small budget. Not only the tenants, but everyone can use these low on budget ideas. This is a great example of simple ideas used for creating great walls.

  2. So love the scrapbk paper idea! Thanks!, Candace Mac.

  3. Appreciate your sharing, great article post. Really looking forward to read more.

    bespoke wall covering



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