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Creating a constellation of holes in pursuit of a Pinterest-worthy gallery wall is enough to make anyone nervous—especially if you’re renting. It’s enough to make anyone embrace the minimalist look of blank walls. But think again! Both the realist and commitment-phobe in all of us should embrace the ever-helpful wall decal. “Decals are a renter’s dream,” says Aaron White, a New York-based interior designer at Incorporated Architecture & Design. “The low costs and ability to remove at a moment’s notice definitely appeals to younger crowds, as well as parents with growing kids who are dying to change the look of their rooms in a moment’s notice.” Still not convinced? Here are his dos and don’ts for adding wall decals—without f#@king up your space.
dos

DO use wall decals instead of artwork. That’s right, you can even install frames around them, too! “Doing a collage of decals with frames can make a stunning gallery wall if your art collection is not extensive enough to do so,” says White. That’s the way to execute your on-a-whim Pinterest look!

DON’T install wall decals in your formal areas. “These areas are probably where some of your finest pieces of furniture and decor live—using decals may take the spotlight off these items,” advises White. If you’re pulling out the fine china for huge family get-togethers in your formal dining room, let the pricey fixtures of the room shine instead of vinyl wall appliqués.

DO forgo the paint roller for a peel-and-stick decal to make a big statement. “I look at them as a contemporary alternative to the mundane and dated accent wall so many of us are guilty of attempting at one point or another,” reveals White. So go ahead, play up the wall behind your daughter’s bed with some fairy tale decals or geometric designs.

DON’T use decals with words or phrases, “unless it’s in a creative space or in a highly graphic way,” says White. “We all love our families, friends and homes but may not need to be reminded in writing every day.” Leave the inspirational quotes for your daily affirmations and birthday cards.

DO place wall decals in surprising places. “Don’t forget, spaces like pantries and closets need love, too,” points out White. “Decals look fabulous even behind shelving, and who doesn’t love a surprise where they least expect it?” They’re like wearing nice underwear, but for your bookshelves!

DO take advantage of custom wall decal opportunities. Many companies specialize in this treatment. “Pictures of special moments or children’s artwork could become beautiful murals,” notes White. Call that a step up from hanging art class masterpieces on the fridge.

DON’T use wall decals with traditional wall art. “They accomplish the same purpose but are two different mediums. So unless your taste is extremely eclectic, this could end up looking like a disaster!” says White. Pick one when decorating each space in your house.

DO use wall decals with furniture. “Incorporating decals with 3D objects such as chairs, beds, bookcases, and even tables can create visual interest and depth in a room,” notes White. Go ahead and invest in that headboard decal to make your guest bedroom pop!

DON’T let wall decals stand in for parts of your home. “Don’t try to create architectural elements, but feel free to accentuate them. You can’t have a fireplace without a chimney,” says White. After all, you don’t want a home that feel’s like a dollhouse with 2D mantels and doors.

Follow White’s dos and don’ts, and peruse our interior designer-approved wall decal picks for your own home!