How to Decorate Your Apartment Walls Without Losing Your Security Deposit

Designing the ideal space can be mega-challenging when you're forced to adhere to the sometimes strict and always annoying laws of rental living. There are buildings that don’t allow you to paint your walls or even hang art using nails (but did you know some landlords will allow you to choose a paint color — within reason — before you move in?).
But, before you box yourself in, phone your landlord and find out what your specific rental rules are! You’d be surprised to learn how many updates, as in finishes, lighting fixtures and appliances, you’re allowed as a new tenant. Once you’ve figured what you can and can’t do, peruse these next five tips, and get to decorating. In the very near future, your place could look so cool that people will assume you must have bought your place....
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1. Put Up Wall Decals — Use them to create a wallpaper effect or apply them in small concentrated sections to look like art. A warning, though: Use these sparingly and with the utmost precision! Have fun, but seriously, if you're not careful and go overboard, these can look a little corny.

Byrdie Graphics Vinyl Wall Decals, $58, available at Etsy.
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2. Use Tall Furniture — If you aren’t allowed to put nails on the wall, I would say, when purchasing furniture items, you should think tall. And when purchasing decor, look for variety in shape, size and pattern. A tall bookshelf can be filled with lovely books and decorative items. And like the image shown here, the look is complete, you honestly don’t need anything else on the walls behind it.

CB2 Carlson II White Tower, $199, available at CB2.
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3. Lean and Layer Mirrors And Artwork &mmdash; Put a console behind your sofa, and suddenly you have a place to perch tall artwork that can lean up against the wall. This works for lighting, mirrors, and other interesting objects as well. The key to leaning artwork is to style it so it looks intentional and not like you just happend to leave it there because you got too lazy to hang it. Try layering taller paintings with smaller, differently proportioned ones in front.

Photo: Via Anthropologie
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4. Command Hooks These things are magical, when it comes to hanging art. They can’t hold too much weight (so double and triple up for heavier frames), but they use a special adhesive that comes off without damaging the wall. Use them to create your own gallery walls, mixing different sizes and proportions of paintings.

Command Adhesive Oiled Bronzed Hooks, $8.99, available at Container Store.

Photographed by Dan McMahon/Refinery29.
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5. Use Painters' Tape To Create Geometric ‘Wallpaper’ — Painter’s tape is a good idea for those of us with slight OCD. You can purchase it in different colors from a craft and hardware stores, and keep your lines neat when you create cool geometric patterns (or stripes) on your walls. Obviously this one only applies to those of you who are allowed to paint.

Pro Tapes Black Paper Masking Tape, $16.07, available at Buy.

Photo: Via House Beautiful/Mikkel Vang