For people living in a rental, it can be really hard to feel “settled in.” You can’t make any major adjustments to the space—despite how dated the bathroom tile is or how much you hate the blinding light fixtures in the living room—and anything you choose to do has to totally be un-doable whenever you move out.
Hanging wall art is one of the easiest ways to make your space feel more lived-in and cozy, but there’s just one problem: Spackling is a total hassle. While it’s not the most difficult thing you’ll have to do when you move out, it’s time-consuming and something you’ll totally dread when the time comes, so sometimes it’s better to just avoid doing it entirely. These options not only leave your wall spackle-free, but they also make your wall art a little easier to change out—perfect for indecisive decorators like myself.
Whether you’re just hanging up a few picture frames or you’re designing a giant gallery wall, here are a few tips for hanging wall art without having to break out your hammer or drill.
This is probably the most commonly used method of hanging up frames, canvases, and any other decor without leaving a trace on the wall. The simple adhesive Command strips are perfect for lighter things like paper, poster board, and smaller frames, while the velcro-like Command picture-hanging strips are made for, well, picture hanging. They come in different sizes to accommodate different weights, and you can apply more than one to a frame to give it a little extra support. These are great options for when you want the hangings to be invisible—there will be no gap between the wall and your art, making for a clean, flush finish.
If you have heavier pieces that you want to display (we’re looking at you, heavy vintage mirror), you might want to opt for a Command hook instead. The Designer and Utility hooks are made in sizes large enough to support up to 7.5 pounds. For pieces heavier than that, you can use more of them in a straight line and hook the wire from your art onto it. Since the hooks protrude a few centimeters away from the wall, your art will feel more detached from the wall and almost a little gallery-like. There are also Command nails that have the adhesive backing but the head of a wire brad, so you can achieve a similar goal as the hooks, but have the art lie flush against the wall.
3. Hang Art From Your Molding
Picture rail molding hardly exists anymore, but if you were lucky enough to land in a place that still has it, take advantage of it. All you have to do is find hooks that fit the width of your molding, some aesthetically-pleasing rope or string, and design your walls. This method is very modular and allows you to change out your artwork pretty easily. It’s also a great way to utilize different kinds of frames and even different mediums of wall art, since the cohesive element (literally) tying all the pieces together is the string.
4. Use Your Mantle
Again, this isn’t something that every rental apartment has, but if you have a fireplace, use its mantle to display works of art. It doesn’t have to be a cluttered space filled with random knick knacks and an endless array of family photos from decades past; it can be a sophisticated space where you can display a larger piece of art that creates a focal point in the room.
5. Take Up Space on Bookshelves
Yes, bookshelves are for books, but they’re also great for displaying art, too. Your carefully curated frames can be displayed on empty shelves or between sets of groups. Rather than stuffing your bookshelves full of books you haven’t touched in a few years, clean out your collection and make some space for your favorite photographs.
6. Embrace the Wall Lean
This is the simplest solution of all, but it’s totally effective. All of that empty space on top of your giant dresser or media console is open for you to express yourself artistically. Play around with the different pieces you have by overlapping them or clustering them all on one side for asymmetry—the sky’s the limit here. This also goes for larger pieces that can be rested on the floor. Mirrors and bigger canvases can have a huge impact when they are at the same level as your feet.
7. Put the Art on an Easel
Easels take up a decent chunk of floor space, so this might not be the best option if you’re in a studio. But if you have space to work with, especially in larger common areas where a statement art piece can become a focal point of the room, try putting your art on an easel or pedestal. This kind of display will add another layer of interaction with the piece since it won’t feel as 2-dimensional as it would mounted on a wall.
8. Clip it Up
If you like the idea of having set spots for your art but want the flexibility of being able to change out your pieces, try out this trick. Instead of applying Command adhesives directly on the art, fasten them to clips (binder clips, clothespins, and office clips all work; get creative with it!). Plan out where you want each clip to go on the wall, and then place your art in the respective clips. Whenever you want to move things around, you just have to unclip the art from its spot and put its replacement in. The great thing about this system is that you never have to redesign the configuration of the clips if you don’t want to.
If you don’t mind spackling and want something a little sturdier than your average drywall anchor, here are a few options that you can try out.
9. Press-In Hooks
You might be trying to avoid putting any holes in your wall at all, but if you have to, make it these. Monkey Hooks, Super Hooks can support pieces of art up to 150 pounds, making these an ideal choice for mirrors and other extremely heavy decor. The best parts? You don’t need to find a stud, they can be installed without any tools, and they only leave a hole in the wall the size of a pinhead. It sounds too good to be true, but if the infomercials are any indication, they definitely work.
10. Hang a Pegboard
This option is perfect for commitment-phobes since you can change the art out whenever you want. It can be used as an accent wall, a headboard, or really anything else you please. The only issue is that you do have to fasten the actual pegboard to the wall using drywall anchors and screws, but after that, you can hang up whatever art you like. Check out this step-by-step tutorial.
11. Install a Cork Wall
Similarly to the pegboard, a cork wall is perfect for people who want to change up their decor more often than not. It’s also a fun touch to add to a playroom, crafting studio, or home office. While it’s possible to install the cork with some sort of liquid adhesive, it’s likely that you’ll have to sand off the adhesive after you remove the cork (which is a whole lot harder than spackling some holes). Instead, this tutorial recommends using extra long brass tacks to secure the cork to the wall.