Reader Question / Ugly Wall Cover-Up

Q. Hey Jordan,

I’m an avid reader of your blog, and wanted to ask for your creative input on an unfortunate home decor situation. My apartment has a large textured, stuccoed wall that I can’t stand. It feels very Miami. Not in a good way. Because we rent, I can’t do anything that will permanently alter or damage the wall. I also don’t want to spend a fortune — no more than $50 – $75. Do you have any ideas as to how to improve? I will send you a photo of the wall for reference.

Thanks so much!


A. Well, I’m sort of a fan of the ’70s look (I know, I know) so I’d probably try to give a little nod to the Miami-ish feel with my decor (art deco touches, etc). It doesn’t sound like that’s your thing, though (and it’s probably not most people’s :)) but no problem – there are tons of easy, inexpensive ways to hide an unattractive wall.

My favorite look: buy a ton of differently-sized mirrors at a thrift shop, a craft store, or online, and hang them all over the wall (this has the added benefit of making your apartment look much bigger). You can also create neat, inexpensive artwork by purchasing a bunch of thrift-shop frames and putting interesting wallpaper or fabric scraps inside them.

Tip: When creating a wall arrangement of mismatched mirrors or picture frames, hang the largest, most eye-catching piece a little off-center, and then arrange the smaller pieces around it.

And here’s another, slightly more labor-intensive idea: I’m sure you’ve thought of hanging fabric panels to cover the wall (you can use shower rods or curtain rods if the room isn’t too big), but what about using a similar technique to hang wallpaper panels? This will require you to make a few nail holes along the top edge of the wall, but if you’re careful they’ll be easy to fill back in with a little putty on move-out day.

What you’ll need: 2x the amount of wallpaper necessary to cover the wall (only half of it will be facing outwards, so you can buy cheap stuff for the side that’ll face inwards to save money). Glue together the wallpaper panels back-to-back to give the piece more heft, and nail the top edge of the panels to the wall using a thin piece of wooden molding (you can purchase this at the Home Depot). You can also stain the molding pieces to match or contrast with the paper (of course, remember to do this before affixing the wallpaper).