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10 Ways to Decorate Walls without Artwork

Updated on November 4, 2009

Blank walls in a home look very stark and beg for life but, artwork tends to be very expensive - never mind the fact that often you simply can’t find something you like. However, your walls don’t need to stay bare and cold; there are a number of options for decorating walls – besides producing your own masterpieces. You will be surprised how simple it can be to transform a wall and you’ll find that the creativity it sparks could get you reworking every wall in your home. So, let’s get going. Here are some ideas.

Using photographs for wall décor can create a homely atmosphere.
Using photographs for wall décor can create a homely atmosphere.

1. Photographs

Family photographs immediately spring to mind. These are especially good in hallways or corridors where you can make a collection of family members and memories. The photos don’t need to be of the same size but it is a good idea to give each of them a similar frame (especially when it comes to color) as this forms a cohesive arrangement. Family photographs also make a place homely and can be comforting – although you may want to leave out some of your less favorite relatives.

Another option is to hang up a large pin board and cover it with casual family photos. Photos are great for memories, yet, often it seems an inconvenience to trudge the camera around. Having a photo-board motivates you to capture those special moments for display. Looking at the photos of fun and happy times can be very uplifting after a bad day or during a stressful time.

If you are into artistic photography you can hang some of your own work up. It may even be something that you would like to try out. Don’t immediately discard the idea, it can be quite simple. Take some photos of flowers, pretty scenes, still life, buildings etc. Making all of the images black and white or various tones of sepia can have an interesting effect.

2. Frame Things

Frames don’t have to contain artwork – or photos for that matter. You can use them for a host of different items. Use any old frames that you have, or pick some up at a thrift store or garage sale for a good price. If you don’t like the color, often it is easy to paint them.

Then get creative with filling them. You can use:

  • Magazine covers
  • Pictures from old calendars
  • Postcards
  • Posters
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Sheet music
  • Children’s art
  • Cartoons
  • Certificates
  • A completed puzzle
  • And so the list continues…

You can even make do with frames without glass or backing. Stick whatever you want to the wall and then place the frame around it.

Wall stickers can be a talking piece.
Wall stickers can be a talking piece.

3. Wallpaper and Stickers

When you hear “wallpaper”, you might shrink back, remembering grandma’s faded and peeling walls. Well, in case you hadn’t heard, wallpaper is back in fashion. Don’t worry, it’s not the fuddy-duddy stuff, there are some beautiful designs nowadays. This is a quick and easy way to brighten up any room and add some texture to the plain. It’s also a savior when it comes to extremely ugly walls. If you feel a mass of colorful paper on your walls will scream at you, just use the wallpaper on one of the walls in the room. You can spruce up the whole room by one different and funky wall. Or go up only half a wall or use a border trim.

Another option is wall stickers. These can bring dimension and an element of fun. Get some cute ones or way out, or, whatever takes your fancy. They can be quite a talking piece.

4. Off the Wall

Perhaps you are renting or on the move and “touching” the walls is not a viable option. Perhaps you simply don’t want to put much time into it. In this case, there are still things that you can do to decorate walls. You can place something next to the wall such as a screen or a few plants scattered along the wall can bring life to a room. Make an attractive piece of furniture a centerpiece. Use a bookshelf to display photos, ornaments etc.

Collections are great for wall decorations
Collections are great for wall decorations

5. Collections

If you are a collector, walls can be a natural display area. Even if you are not a collector, it can be an eye-catching way of decorating an uninteresting wall.

See if any of these appeal to you:

  • A selection of mismatched plates
  • Baskets or bags
  • Dried flowers, shells, driftwood and other items from Mother Nature
  • Spoons
  • Clocks
  • Musical instruments (with some sheet music if you like)
  • Memorabilia
  • Certificates and medals
  • Album covers
  • Fans
  • Old clothing
  • Fashion jewelry

You can display items in frames or attach them with hooks or ribbons to the wall. Make use of shadowboxes if you like them.

Another option – especially if you are grouping items that are not similar – is to tape off a large rectangular area on the wall and paint it another color so that it acts as a pseudo-frame. Then place your collection of items in it.

6. Mirrors

Mirrors are good particularly in dark or small areas in your home. You can use a large well-framed mirror (although these can be expensive) or you could hang several mirrors of different sizes, shapes and frames together to form an interesting wall piece.

Check the reflection in the mirror. You don’t necessarily want it to face on to the toilet. Remember we are trying to make the wall attractive.

Shelving is a good-looking and useful way to decorate walls.
Shelving is a good-looking and useful way to decorate walls.

7. Shelving

Shelves have a wonderful way of breaking up a wall and you can use them for pretty much anything. Books, ornaments, pictures, plants etc. (Plus it’s extra storage space.) Be creative about how you place objects. Vary the height of objects and the spacing in between so that the eye can flow lazily and easily over them.

Face books with bright colored pictures forward so that they look like artwork.

8. Textiles

Most attractive textiles can be used as wall décor. Look for:

  • Tapestries
  • Quilts
  • Tablecloths
  • Rugs
  • Kimonos
  • Blankets

Hang these on curtain rods or hooks. Even a beautiful piece of material can be hung from the ceiling to the floor as a focal point.

9. Plants

Attach plant containers to the wall and fill with flowers, greenery or herbs. You can also hang air plants in bark for a light feel.

10. Paint Techniques

There are a number of paint techniques that you can apply to your walls. Some are really simple and inexpensive – and fun. Here are two of them:

Sponging: All you need is a sponge and (relatively little) paint. If you don’t want to buy a special sponge, just use an ordinary kitchen sponge. Tear it up so that you have an uneven surface. You can sponge one color on top of white or another color. Take the sponge, dip it into the paint, dab it off so that it is almost dry and then pat it onto the wall. Change the direction of the sponge as you dab along so that it looks more natural.

Stenciling: Stencils can be used to create a design or border. They are inexpensive to buy and can even be made at home with cardboard and a knife. All you need to do is tape the stencil to the wall then paint over it with a rag, sponge or brush that is nearly dry.

Wall decor can take many shapes and forms.
Wall decor can take many shapes and forms.

Looking for artwork can be disheartening – the expense and the fact that you can’t find something you like. Any one of the above ideas can bring just as much beauty and life to your walls and home. Plus, you might just enjoy the process of putting it all together.


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    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Hi Frieda.

      It's such fun too


    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 8 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      fantastic ideas.

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Glad you like them ;)

    • GiftedGrandma profile image

      GiftedGrandma 8 years ago from USA

      Some really interesting ideas!

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Hi KCC Big Country

      Wow, that sounds interesting and so creative! Thank you for sharing.


    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      All very good ideas.

      My teenage daughter has aspirations to be an interior designer and loves to experiment on her bedroom walls. Currently one wall is black with an appliqued white chadelier sticker, two walls are a pretty hot mauvy pink and the last wall opposite the black wall is white with black stenciling. It's beautiful. Very Victorian looking when all put together.

      On my room, I experimented with the faux finishing and used sponges to create a very muted look.

      Lots of fun!

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Thanks Tony

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Super ideas - thanks for sharing

      Love and peace


    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Thanks, some of these can be fun to do!

    • raguett profile image

      raguett 8 years ago

      great ideas...