Dress up walls without paint

How can I make my rented flat less less sterile without painting the walls?

A handout photo that shows adding art work on blank/white walls (Courtesy: Ghada Kunash)

I live in a rented flat and am not allowed to paint the off-white walls. What can I do to make the place less sterile and more my own? I cannot take white walls - white meaning empty; there has to be something for me to look at. I like to put something here that reminds me of a certain trip or something there that reminds me of a certain person that I like. It's very important. If you can't paint or use wallpaper there is still a lot you can do.

Art is absolutely the easiest thing to do for a blank wall because you can buy it anywhere, on any budget, and it ends up being very, very personal because you are choosing exactly what you like, whether a landscape, portrait or poster from a movie. What matters is only that you like it and it makes you feel at home. According to ArtMap (www.artinthecity.com) we have about 135 art galleries in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, so you are sure to find something to suit your style, taste and budget. As well as adding colour and atmosphere, a painting can be an excellent financial investment.

For a smaller budget, framed photos, hung together in a group, work well. Choose frames in different sizes, colours and styles and have your photos printed accordingly . Pictures of family and friends always add warmth and intimacy.

Walls take on a new character when hung with rugs, kilims or carpets - especially those silk Persian ones. You will have to fit them with a rod and hanger, and this service is available at most carpet showrooms.

Create drama by using spotlights with different intensities or even colours, directed onto your walls or ceiling. Lighting up the ceiling gives the effect of darker walls, while light directed sideways throws different shades onto the wall, especially if it has paintings or shelves.

There is no limit to the combinations you can create with shelves in different shapes, sizes and colours. You can always paint them, and what you display is easily changeable, so you can bring in all the colour you need.

For a super-easy solution, Ikea has fantastic stickers that can be applied directly to the wall and later removed without leaving a trace.

Rene McKnight was talking to Ghada Kunash, the owner of Vindemia Art & Antiques in Dubai, 04 427 0219 If you have questions for our experts, please e-mail them to homes@thenational.ae