5 Affordable (and Unique!) Wall Treatments

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Completely change the look of a room by adding affordable treatments to walls that you’re unsure how to decorate. The neat thing about wall treatments is they eliminate that bare wall "look." You know the one: you keep wondering what you should hang in that blank or awkward space, leave it bare, and forget about it. Instead of purchasing art, pictures, or other trinkets to fill up a wall space you’re unsure what to do with, cover it with an affordable wall treatment. They save money, contribute to the style of a room, and can be very unique.

1. Wood Panels and Planks

A rustic wood wall and shelf with a plant on top.

Wooden panels and planks left over from bigger projects can be repurposed as wall treatments. Paint them, stain them, seal them, or hang them as they are, depending on the look you’re going for. Plain wooden panels can be mounted horizontally for a rustic look, especially pieces with knobby bits. Painted ones can be hung as well and mounted for an artistic look, especially if you paint them different colors. Ask local contractors or search Craigslist for leftover wooden planks and panels that can be painted and used to cover a wall. (Or search your neighborhood for free pallets to use!)

2. Paint as Art

One of the simplest ways to decorate a wall is by painting it in an unusual way. The options for using paint as wall treatments are endless, and discounted paint can often be found at hardware stores after someone has returned it (or use leftovers from another project). Paint the wall a darker color, or paint a pattern with your brush. Advanced projects would be designs that require measuring and using stencils, multiple colors, or painting the wall to look like a checkerboard or exposed brick.

3. Cloth and Drapes

A fabric tapestry.

Fabric and drapes can be used to make bright, vivid wall treatments, and fabric can be easily purchased by the yard at your local fabric store. It can be mounted in pieces like wallpaper for an even pattern, or cut into strips or squares to create a wall that looks like a quilt or fancy wallpaper, depending on the layout you choose. Wall moulding and borders can also be mounted to a wall around an area of fabric (such as a large rectangle in the center of the wall), in order to leave some of the wall plain and the rest decorated.

4. Shutters, Frames, and Doors

For a rustic, repurposed, and thrifty look, mount old shutters, picture or window frames, or doors to a wall as an affordable wall treatment. Paint these items, strip them, sand them—there are many options for these kinds of old repurposed items. Try to stick with one theme for a wall—such as all old wooden shutters, or a collection of vintage frames. Mount a few shutters to make it look like there’s a window that isn’t really there, or a create a fake doorway in the wall. Many funky restaurants, lofts, and apartments are decorating walls with these kinds of items. They can be found at antique shops, thrift store, garage sales, and more.

5. Newspaper and Wrapping Paper

A close-up image of layered paper on a wall.

While paper sounds like an obvious choice and is somewhat like using wallpaper, it’s super affordable and can be used in completely different and artsy ways. While you can line up the pattern and cover the entire wall, as with wallpaper, you can alternatively cut large squares or strips and create a collage, much like decoupage—right on the wall. Choose a few styles of paper in different colors and alternate them, much like a checkerboard. Choose newspaper as the medium and cover the wall in papier-mâché, creating a vintage look. There are so many different ways to use paper as an affordable wall treatment, and your wall will be completely unique.