Creative Ways To Decorate Your Wall Space

Whether you have a new apartment or a house you've lived in for years, don't you want to infuse some of your personality into your space? Staring at a blank wall is boring and doesn't spark inspiration. In fact, studies show that the way your living space is decorated, arranged, and organized contributes greatly to your mental health, mood, and sense of well-being, as Lindsay T. Graham, PhD, a researcher at the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley, told Vogue.

Instead of placing just any old thing on the wall — we're over those "live, laugh, love" signs – try decorating with intention. Think about what you'd like to see staring back at you every day, whether abstract art or family photos. Think about the colors you'd like to see — as colors elicit different emotions — while also ensuring the wall design works with your current decor and furniture.

When renting, you can't get as creative as you can when owning, but there are still things you can do to dress up blank walls. From statement art and personally curated gallery walls (perfect for renting since artwork can easily be taken down) to wallpaper and floating shelves, keep reading for creative ways to decorate your wall space that work for both your personal taste and your budget.

Make your walls pop with statement art

Artwork is probably the simplest way to add pizzazz to a wall, and it works for just about any budget, from a painting on large, stretched canvas to a small original piece. For a large wall, go with a statement piece that really stands out. And, just as the overall design and decor of your space affects your mood, the use of wall art is known to provide its own psychological benefits. According to Our Culture Mag, when viewing art we find appealing, blood flow increases to the brain, improving our cognitive functioning while also stimulating the brain's release of the feel-good chemical dopamine.

The piece should also coordinate with the size of the wall. Interior designer Lee Harmon Waters told The Spruce, "Aim for at least 50% of the width of whatever is below the piece of art," keeping in mind that "bigger is almost always better when it comes to art."

When selecting a statement piece, choose something you love and won't tire of quickly. Make sure the piece makes you feel good when looking at it, as Brian Paquette, a Seattle-based interior designer, noted to Architectural Digest. "It's about something you can't live without. Art should stop you in your tracks and keep you there," he said. With statement art, let the artwork do the talking, and keep the rest of the decor simple.

Curate your own gallery wall

Curating your own gallery wall shouldn't sound intimidating. After all, you don't need to be a professional museum curator to create one. However, you do want to choose pieces that look cohesive and possibly tell a story. "Gallery walls work great in so many spaces, but ... you want to create a thoughtful gallery, not a random hodgepodge," noted Taylor Daroci, a home stylist with Anthropologie. Stick to a consistent theme, tone, color, or style. Start with your favorite piece in the center to "help establish and anchor the story," and then build from there.

Also, don't forget to consider the frames, whether your pieces are already framed or if framing is needed. While the frames should coordinate with the overall aesthetic, they don't all have to match. Instead, aim for a "balancing act," as Deborah Lloyd, chief creative officer for Kate Spade, informed Architectural Digest, for "visual cohesion that's still eclectic and energetic." Daroci echoed this sentiment: Don't be afraid to mix textures and media to add depth and interest, encouraging people to display pieces they enjoy.

Lastly, before the artwork goes up, determine the arrangement that works best. This requires a little experimentation, but it's worth it. "You'll gain a good sense of how the artwork fills the space and can make any necessary adjustments," advised Daroci, "and avoid any unnecessary holes in your wall."

Add some storage with floating shelves

In addition to making your walls look pretty, wall decor can also be functional. Floating shelves not only look cool, but they also add storage — which always comes in handy. They can be added to a wall in any room, so if that blank wall is in a room that could benefit from extra storage, floating shelves, one of the trendiest home decor ideas, will do the trick. For large walls, add multiple shelves to create a statement wall, as MyDomaine suggests, while a single shelf will do for a small space.

Other ideas? Create a gallery wall from a floating shelf by leaning a few of your favorites pieces. If you have a fireplace with no mantel, add a wooden shelf that serves as a mantel, and you're good to go.

Love the idea of floating shelves, but rustic isn't your thing? Create contrast with black shelves against a white wall or white shelves against a dark-colored wall. For a minimal look, use white shelving that blends in with a white wall so the items displayed really pop and look like they are floating themselves. For a unique spin, HGTV suggests adding shelves of various lengths or glam geometric-shaped shelves in gold, while thin shelving gives a sleek look that highlights the items on display, per House Beautiful.

Get organized with a wall calendar

Love the idea of functional wall decor, but you're looking for a different type of organizational help? Opt for a wall calendar or bulletin board.

MyDomaine lists various types of wall calendars, ranging from traditional paper wall calendars to hanging and acrylic ones. "When looking for a wall calendar, it's important to consider both form and function," as Shira Gill, a professional organizer, told the outlet. "Pay attention to size, color, style, graphics, and font to ensure that the calendar you pick reflects your personal style and fits in with the overall aesthetic of your home or office."

Choose a wall calendar based on your personal interests, as noted by The Strategist. However, our favorite wall calendar, if you can splurge, is acrylic, which leaves lots of room to add notes, and is sustainable — just use dry-erase markers and clean with a damp cloth or alcohol wipes. MyDomaine's choice is the Parisloft Large Reusable Acrylic Wall Calendar, though there are many out there with slightly different designs, even ones you can personalize to your liking, via Etsy. Though you usually have to buy your own markers, these calendars typically include everything else you need for wall mounting, including materials and detailed instructions.

Decorate your walls with mirrors that are both pretty and useful

If wall mirrors make you think of the '80s, where mirrors were everywhere, think again. We're not talking about those kinds of mirrors. What we are referring to are attractive mirrors of various sizes that can be placed on a wall to add a bit of pizzazz while serving a critical purpose: to help you check yourself out. They're perfect for entryways so you can take one last look at yourself before you head out, as Real Simple noted.

According to The Strategist, these are not the only reasons for using decorative mirrors. Lifestyle author Laura Fenton told the magazine that mirrors can deceive the eye — in a good way. "A huge, $20-from-Craigslist mirror makes my entryway feel larger than it really is," she said, explaining that she has "mirrors all over" her tiny apartment. Wall mirrors typically range anywhere from $50 to over $500, as shown by the magazine's curated list.

When it comes to mirrors, you don't just have to place one on the wall. Add several smaller mirrors for a gallery wall type of effect, per Architectural Digest.

Bring the outdoors in with a fabulous wall mural

Large murals of a scene from nature that span the entire length of a wall help bring the outdoors in. According to Well & Good, this is not only a fun way to decorate your wall space, but it's also good for our mental health, especially after spending so much time indoors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist, told the publication that "when we see 'green,' the brain immediately feels soothed and relaxed." Manly continued to say, "Research has proven that exposure to natural environments is linked with positive mental health. As a result, when we are confined indoors, it can be truly important to bring nature into our living spaces as much as possible."

As House Beautiful shared, there are a number of different life-like wallpaper designs. You could even hand-paint a mural yourself, per Architectural Digest, or leave the painting to a professional artist. Another benefit of a large mural wall? It instantly adds color, interest, and depth to a wall of any size, per The Spruce.

Create the look of texture with peel-and-stick tile or shiplap

Similar to how mirrors make a room look larger and how wall murals can appear almost life-like, the appearance of texture can be created on walls instantly using peel-and-stick tile or shiplap that's more affordable than the real thing.

Ohio-based Emily Rodgers shared with Today her bathroom renovation using peel-and-stick tiles that look like shiplap. As she explained to Today, she had a small budget after renovating her kitchen. "I had previously worked with shiplap in my kitchen and knew how forgiving and affordable [it] was," she explained. "After picking the green paint color, everything fell into place." This — combined with peel-and-stick tile flooring that gives the look of marble, along with replacing the vanity, light fixture, and wall mirror — came out to just around $500.

And, as Real Simple explained, peel-and-stick tile can even be used for kitchen backsplashes. The publication noted that the installation process is super simple, and the final product looks just like the real thing!

Add flair to any wall with wallpaper

Wallpaper is an affordable way to transform any space, as the wallpaper designs of today are not the dated looks of decades past. And some even believe that using wallpaper is better than painting

Although, historically, wallpaper wasn't used as much for bathrooms and kitchens because of the humidity, these days, many types of wallpaper can sustain these conditions, according to Homes & Gardens. The magazine noted that wallpaper can be used in entryways, bathrooms, mudrooms, offices, dining rooms, kitchens, kids' bedrooms, and enclosed toilet rooms — really, everywhere. From bold geometric patterns and subtle textured looks to recreated materials like marble, brick, and stone, wallpaper has come a long way. However, the magazine did advise using textured wallpaper to up the coziness factor of any room. Additionally, go for a subtle, soothing look for bedrooms because, after all, it's where you sleep. As House & Garden noted, wallpaper can make a large room look instantly cozy instead of stark. Designer Ben Pentreath loves grasscloth, a type of textured wallpaper. "I love the richness that grasscloth brings; it has so much more depth than a flat paint," he said.

Additionally, MyDomaine presented a bunch of unique wallpaper ideas — everything from wallpapering the ceiling to adding an accent wall of color. One especially helpful tip for wallpaper newbies is to play it safe at first by covering only the top half of a wall or room, with tile or wainscoting on the bottom to act as a clear border.

Show off some city love or document your travels with a wall map

A decorative map is something you may not have thought of for wall decor. Maps are not only for navigation — they can pay homage to a favorite city or meaningful place, instantly adding a bit of your personality to your walls.

Maps can be as small and subtle as framed images or as big and bold as wallpaper designs that cover an entire wall. Check out the large vintage map of Africa — that once belonged to her teacher parents — that Helen Edwards of South Australia placed on her wall, as featured in Apartment Therapy. Her advice: "Stick with key pieces you love and build your own story and history of your family life with the things you choose to have in your home."

According to Architectural Digest, oversized, personalized wall maps are available for every city and country in every color. For a super personal touch, add pins to show the places you've been. Many maps are even designed for pin use and come with the pins. Craft & Oak and Etsy are great sources for personalized maps.

If you're planning a destination wedding, small personalized maps make for a super cool add-on to your invitations. After the wedding, why not enlarge it and use it on your wall as a reminder of that special day?

Add dimension to walls with fun signs

This next idea is a fun look and a perfect way to add a pop of color and draw the eye in, per Forbes. If you're a frequent social media user, a neon sign makes for an awesome photo backdrop, instantly making your room Instagram worthy.

Neon signs add a pop of playfulness to any room and give off a futuristic, nostalgic, and industrial vibe. Designer Jenn Feldman thinks neon lighting is a timeless option for personalizing your space. "With neon lighting, you're dealing with a medium that's really alive and allows you to emotionally feel the presence of art in your room by physically turning it on and off," she said in an interview with House Beautiful. When used in your home, rather than an industrial setting, neon signs make "a statement of a lifestyle and personal brand," infusing a hint of your personality to the space, said Suzanne Hall, vice president at Alice Lane Interior Design.

Turn your photos into wall art

Just as framing oversized custom maps from wedding invitations can be used as wall decor, so can photos. Transform some of them into decorative wall art, not just as framed prints. This can be done with all kinds of photos, from family photos to personal photography.

In designer Fiona Kotur's home in Hong Kong, as displayed in Architectural Digest, she has two oil portraits of her sons on the wall. If you have a smaller budget, there are even apps which instantly turn your photos into art (via The New York Times).

Family photos can easily be used for a gallery wall by arranging a variety of framed photos. And, remember what we said about gallery walls earlier: Have fun with them, while, at the same time, making sure there's an overall cohesive look, whether through theme, color scheme, or frame choice. These gallery walls can be bold, with photos all over, or minimal, with, for example, a set of four photo canvases displayed in a grid, per Architectural Digest.

An even easier way to achieve a similar look is to purchase collage frames that already organize multiple sets of photos for you in a creative way. These can be found everywhere, from Wayfair to Crate & Barrel, so, with a quick Google search, you're good to go.

Display your love of reading with a wall of books

Nineteenth-century writer Sydney Smith once said, "No furniture so charming as books, even if you never open them or read a single word." Books and bookcases can transform any blank wall space and add a sense of charm, according to The Spruce.

Home libraries can be casual or elegant, light and airy, or dark and moody. Create an airy design by adding personal mementos to bookshelves as well as books, as seen in Better Homes & Gardens. One particular idea that caught our eye is one that's built into a staircase — both in the alcove below the staircase as well as the wall leading up the stairs (via House & Garden). Bookshelves can also be done in a symmetrical way — for example, if there's a fireplace in the middle of the wall, place the bookshelves on either side.

Have an old bookcase in need of a facelift? If you're down for some DIY, apply peel-and-stick wallpaper to add a pop of design, per The Spruce. Another totally out-of-the-box idea for book lovers who wish to take on a smaller project? Try removing the covers of some of your favorite reads and frame them on the wall (via Better Homes & Gardens).

Warm up your room with a faux fireplace

Fireplaces not only add literal warmth to a room, but they give the look of warmth and comfort and serve as a room's focal point. We can't all be lucky enough to have a working fireplace where we live, but that doesn't mean you can't still have the look of one.

Elle Decor curated a list of faux fireplaces they love ranging from rustic and cozy to modern and sleek — there's even one that's round and hangs down from the wall like a spaceship, while another is surrounded by faux stacked stone that serves as an insert between the fireplace and the gray detailing of a mantelpiece. Some even have built-in shelving for extra storage. Place it against the wall as a console, or have one built in for a sleek look. And, if you have an unused fireplace or one that's no longer working, try reworking it visually by filling the interior space with rustic logs, per The Spruce, for a modern farmhouse vibe.

Never get bored with digital art you can change at your every whim

Many of us have a TV mounted on a wall, but what about a television that serves as a work of art when it's turned off? The Frame from Samsung is a state-of-the-art television that displays artwork of your choosing when turned off. With a digital art subscription, you can literally change the painting displayed whenever you feel. Different frame options are available, as are additional accessories, such as a customizable frame, a stand, and a translucent cable to keep the wire hidden.

Now, what about a digital wall frame that's not also a television? Does that exist? It does. NetGear's Meural Digital Canvas has a digital screen that displays either your own photos or a variety of artwork — just wave your hand across the screen to learn more about each work of art (via HGTV). The Meural Digital Canvas is available in three different sizes and four frame options: black, white, dark wood, and light wood. With the latest in digital technology, you'll be entertained even without the TV on.