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Introducing Reader Questions: 5 Renter-Friendly Temporary Wall Covering Solutions

I get emails pretty regularly asking for design help and opinions – it is BEYOND me why you guys want my opinion. Don’t you read my blog? – but I thought it would be fun to start a new Reader Questions series here. You submit a question, preferably one that has one or two options, and we’ll all take a swing at it. Send me your questions to kelly (at) So let’s kick it off with a question from a real-life friend…

Andy and I have this friend, Charles.
photo with wedding party
Like a big fat jerk, Charles just moved far away from us. He now lives in Colorado, which also happens to be Andy and my favorite place we’ve ever lived. (We’re taking his move very personally, if you can’t tell.)

Charles in Colorado. Jerk.

When he moved to Colorado, he moved in to a rented house with some roommates. A day or so after he moved in, I got this text:

“Made it to CO! Moved in… But might need your design help on something in my room… Pic coming soon. You should def write a blog post on this one. Whew.”

And then…

“The owners won’t let me paint over it.”

And then silence. I was dying to see what was happening in his room, but the moment I saw this photo:
spiderman wall mural
I spewed my drink all over my laptop, and collapsed into a ball of uncontrollable, guffawing laughter, rolling around on the floor helpless to suppress the uncontrollable howling and shrieking belly laughs. There were tears.

Finally, I got control of myself. Then I looked again:
spiderman wall mural
And I was gone for another half hour.

I don’t know if you could tell by the photos, but Charles is a full grown adult male human, not an eight-year-old boy.

So he needs help, and you and I are going to do the best we can. He needs an inexpensive, renter-friendly way to disguise spiderman. I have some ideas, and I’m hoping you will pitch in too!
5 wall covering ideas for renters at View Along the Way

1. Work with it.

Go with the Spiderman theme full-force. Use faux webbing as window treatments, and pull out the reds and blues in his bedding. Or maybe go with something like this?
spiderman toddler bed

Think about it, Charles. This is a strong option.

(If you have a similar situation but with a slightly less offensive wall mural – maybe ugly tile or something – you could work with it by bringing out the colors in your decor, or trying to downplay them or distract from them with your accessory choices.)

2. Temporary wallpaper

They’re making this peel-and-stick renter-friendly wallpaper now which might be a great option for Charles. You can find it in some cool (grown-man-friendly) graphic patterns:
honeycomb temporary wallpaper

Honeycomb wallpaper via Tempaper

Or some very unoffensive linen-look solid options:
Blue linen-look temporary wallpaper
via Casart coverings

Here are five resources for temporary wallpapers. I don’t know what Charles’ budget is, but this option would probably cost a couple hundred dollars depending on what he bought. I have a feeling he’ll be looking for something even cheaper.

3. Use curtains

Okay, hear me out. If I were Charles, this is probably what I would do: hang floor-to-ceiling curtains on a curtain rod right on top of Spiderman. No one has to know there isn’t a window behind it, right?
using curtains to hide a wall mural

Know one has to know… except the whole internet.

Two reasons why I like this option:
1. It’s cheap: you can pick up some cheap curtains for about $15 at ikea.
2. HUGE BONUS: if someone is in your room and they move the curtains to look out the window? BAM. SPIDERMAN! IN YOUR FACE!

4. Use art

Charles could buy a couple giant canvases and paint them, then hang them over Spiderman’s giant red face. This does NOT have to be hard. (Here’s how I made my DIY art.) Charles could slap some acrylic paint on the canvas like this:
using art to hide a wall mural

Art by Mark Rothko via
…and suddenly everyone will think he is tres sophisticated. (Don’t worry Charles, I won’t tell them any differently.)

You’ll still get a hint of Spiderman crotch between the paintings, but who can’t use a little Spiderman crotch in their lives?

5. Something else brilliant that you’ll now suggest in the comments section

This is a new Reader Questions series, and I’m hoping YOU will also have all the best answers. I know how genius you kids are. UPDATE: No seriously. If you need to disguise something on your wall, you NEED to read through the amazing, brilliant suggestions already left in the comments here.
What would you do if you were Charles? Besides stay in Georgia and NOT move away from us?

If you have a design question for this new series and you want the opinion of the amazing people who read here, send it on over – with nice, well-lit photos – to kelly (at)

Let's connect


  1. I personally love the matching bed option. BUT, if he’s in need of some extra storage, too, maybe he could get a couple of tall/shallow book shelves that everyone and their dog sells and just place them in front? He could have a little shelf for superhero figurines if he feels bad blocking Spiderman’s view, but at least the rest of the space would be useful. I got one that was only like $20 from Walmart once so a couple of those would be a really inexpensive option.

    • Bookshelves! What a perfect idea. I also appreciate how you suggested keeping the integrity of the room by adding superhero figurines.

  2. i love working with it- he could make a hole canopy for the bed out of that web stuff and it would be insanely awesome.
    if he doesn’t want to do that, then i think covering some pieces of mdf with fabric or wallpaper and hanging those. i would be afraid to use temporary wallpaper, JUST IN CASE it should accidentally mar painting. spidey wouldn’t like that. or if he knows the wall color he could always paint a piece the same color and make it just blend more…. or he could start wearing underoos again and make it awesome. girls will go crazy- i mean, mj dug it.

    • Fabric or wallpaper on MDF is a great solution! I knew you would have some brilliant suggestions for going all spidey in there. (A web canopy? It would be AMAZING. I don’t care how old you are.)

  3. Erin @ His & Hers says:

    Urban Outfitters sells those giant tapestries that are usually pretty funky and cheap and can be hung on the wall. I am confused about why they wouldn’t let him paint over it? Are they planning on moving back in a with a crew of 6 year old boys? Very strange.

    • I was thinking the same thing about the owners! Who are they saving this spidey for anyway? Are they just waiting for the perfect comic-book-nerd tenant to move in?

  4. I like this series! I like the idea of DIY art to cover it up.

  5. Never been to Colorado, so I’m with you. Total jerk.

    That being said, I have two more suggestions: fabric w/ starch for a less expensive wallpapering effect (normally this is a cheaper alternative than actually buying wallpaper specially made to come off).

    My favorite idea though is to do a wood wall of some kind (guys like wood, right? I know I do *snicker*). I posted yesterday about wood decking that snaps together for a floating floor effect. Ikea apparently sells the stuff and would totally amazing on a wall (I think).

  6. How about fabric on the walls? Sort of the same effect as curtains but less frilly??? If he’s allowed to put holes in the wall he could staple the fabric up in a few areas. If not, apparently there is a way to starch fabric and have it stay on walls. It sounds messy to me, but might be worth a shot to cover up spidey. Or embrace it…..and pick up some comic fabric and then cut out where spiderman is so that it looks like he is breaking through the fabric.

  7. Bahahaha Charles… you better be giving out some Spidey Kisses in that bedroom. hahaha LOVE IT.

    Seriously though… I think there are several easy ways to hide it…

    Curtains – awesome idea. I really like those flat panels that slide at Ikea. Do they still make them in the birch tree print? Those could be very masculine.

    Vintage maps – love these! Or even this huge map from ikea?

    but you’re right… if all else fails… just buy the Spidey bed. This bedding could be a solid addition too:

    Kelly – I think you need to get him that Spidey 18″ pillow for Christmas!

    • Ooh the slidey panels from ikea! Totally didn’t think of that! Love the vintage map idea too. Then he could put a big ol’ thumbtack where Atlanta is and remember to come back and visit a lot. 🙂 Thanks for the great suggestions!

      (PS: Charles, don’t look at the spidey pillow so you don’t ruin your Christmas surprise.)

  8. You thought of all my suggestions except for maybe large pieces of plywood attached over the existing wall and then painted? Then he could just remove the plywood when he moved out. Not a great idea, but that spiderman is truly inspirational.

  9. OMG! I could NOT stop laughing. This post and that picture has absolutely made my day! Thank you for that!

  10. This post (and the spidey pictures) had me belly laughing this morning! Thank you!
    So many great ideas for a temporary wall covering. One idea that I’ve been toying with recently for my own rental home is covering insulation boards with wallpaper or fabric.
    Like this:
    And you could even hang the insulation boards with 3M picture strips, so no risk of wall or superhero damage.

    • LOVE this idea! I was thinking plywood, but it’s so heavy and cumbersome… insulation boards are so much more practical. Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. Wow, so many great ideas for a hilariously bad dilemma. The insulation board idea is brilliant! That stuff is so fabulous for so many things. A couple other less awesome thoughts…Maybe contact paper could be a cheap version of temp wallpaper. It comes in several colors and some inoffensive patterns (but steer clear of the faux wood grain). If he’s artistic, he could draw all over it with sharpies or some such. They even make chalkboard contact paper so he could jump on the black wall trend. (Please note: I am not suggesting that a full grown adult man would want a chalkboard wall in his bedroom. Unless he wants to draw super heros, which would be perfectly understandable.) Also, I keep wanting to add pegboard everywhere since I love the simple dot pattern. Not sure it’s right for a bedroom, but it could work–especially behind a desk.

    • Pegboard is a great idea! He has lots of sporting equipment, skis, bike stuff, etc, so I bet he’d love the extra storage of a peg board wall. Even though I still secretly just want him to keep the spiderman mural. 🙂

  12. I vote for fabric on the walls… burlap would be awesome. Or some cool masculine jerk-like pattern. 🙂
    Hilarious dilemma to have… that’s what he gets for up and moving to CO.
    xo Heidi

  13. Firstly I think you should make your friend wear a Spiderman get-up at his bachelor party one day (for deserting you)!

    Is he allowed to put nails in the walls though? All these options seem to call for driving some sort of something sharp into the walls to hold them up. He could also just do the insulation board thing large enough so they can stand up by themselves if he’s not allowed to/doesn’t want to attach them to the walls.

    I love your blog btw. I’m in stitches half the time!

    • Hmmm. Good point about the nails. He hasn’t said anything about that yet. Someone did suggest 3M hooks for insulation boards, so that might work. But really – why can’t he paint over it?! What are the owners saving spiderman for anyway?

  14. I would go with the curtains idea if it were me butttt
    i researched covering terrifying walls when we moved into our first rental after our wedding because the living room was DARK PANELING. and not even nice paneling. cheap paneling.

    I suggest fabric on the walls, i think i found it on apartment therapy!

  15. Well I assume Charles is a single guy? So I say leave it, cause you know nothing turns the ladies on more than a life size Spidey on the wall.


  16. Danny (a single dude) says:

    I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. This is an opportunity. Many guys, single or married, would absolutely love this problem. Not only does he get to have a really cool spidey drawing on his wall, he gets to play it off like he’s not such a dork that he would actually pay someone to put that up there. Charles needs to go with it. And not just go with the design, I think he needs to embrace it fully: become spider man.

    Beyond the aspects of interior design, there’s real potential in attracting the lady spiders if Charles will simply embrace this twist of fate! I mean the e-harmony ad writes itself: “Yes ladies, Amazing is in fact my first name…” But e-harmony really can take awhile so I think I’ll just do Charles a favor to speed things along and put up a posting on the relationships section of Craigslist with his email and cell. (Don’t worry Charles, I’ll make sure the ad screens out any man-eating Black Widows)

    • Becoming Spiderman! BAHAHAHA. At first I thought: this is by FAR the best solution anyone has offered.

      But on second thought, no self-respecting superhero would compromise their identity by placing a huge photo of themselves on their wall. Charles should become the VILLAIN!

      PS: You are a true friend to post his ad on craigslist for him. Make sure you post it in neighboring cities, too.

  17. First off, I would remind him that that’s what he gets for moving away to a place you & your husband are not!

    Secondly, there are many places (Staples, Kinko’s) that will create the mumbo jumbo photos out of anything you want….take some awesome shots of the outdoors, have them enlarged for under $10.00 each and then decoupage them onto cheap canvas (who has to know?) and hang them in a series of 4 or 6. Problem solved for less than $100.00!

    You could also send him pics of you & hubby for him to enlarge…remind him what he’s missing. Just a thought 🙂

    • Good thinking on the enlarged photos for a great price! …Even better if it’s a giant photo of our huge face, high-def to show our pores too. 🙂 Hahaha! Thanks for the comment!

  18. Hahahahaa… Poor guy! I am laughing so hard right now!! But as always, you have some great solutions and I think the curtains are kind of genius.

  19. Hahaha, so funny! All great suggestions. At least there are options! And, at least it’s not strawberry shortcake. You’ll have to show us the solution he uses.

  20. OH MY GOODNESS!! That is hilarious!!! He totally needs to work with it. Thanks for giving me a good laugh today 😉

  21. Hilarious. That is all.

  22. Your option number one is good but lacks just the correct amount of, ah … aging and atmosphere. Like some wines and art pieces. Commenters Bliss and Danny are on to it too.

    Charles might envision the entire room (including its entry doorway from adjacent space) as an intimate art gallery, for one very select piece. Minimum furnishings of muted colors with dim theatrical lighting that causes all surfaces and space of the room to recede into darkness. Discrete pin-hole spotlights illuminating only the Spiderman “piece” on a portion of the focus wall.

    Then, Charles, refine your updated version of, “… want to see my etchings?”


  23. LOL! Spiderman crotch … opening the curtains to get a view of … Spiderman (and his crotch) …

    Love the vaca but missed your super funny bloggy self. Curses to my mom and her archaic internet service …

    I’m back. I’m strong. I’m reading. I’m never leaving you again …



  24. Hmmm…. I think the curtains are my favorite idea! It covers up spidey and classes things up in an “adult” sort of way. Plus it’s super cheap and easy!

  25. OMG this is hysterical! I prefer option 1. All the ladies love superheros, why not go with it?!?!?

  26. OMG. This is hilarious. What kind of landlord allows a spidy mural to be painted in the first place and then won’t let anyone paint over it?
    When I rented, I remember hearing that you could use fabric as temporary wallpaper. You adhere it to the wall using cornstarch or something. Never tried it myself.

  27. If Charles doesn’t hide Spidey, I think his dating life will seriously suffer! Although some girls are into that whole super hero thing!

    Hmmm, maybe add a rock wall so he can practice his climbing skills?

  28. I vote for go with it. I’m liking the idea of a webbing canopy.

  29. Wendy Maxwell says:

    I was going to suggest the curtain idea too. Cheap, easy to put up …… & take down when you move. Can use the wire cable that Ikea sells & won’t make a mark that can’t easily be filled when you move. There’s plenty of fabric choice & you can easily change them if bored. They can also be reused if you move to an other place … maybe with a window, or a Superman wall, … Or you could always put up a pic of Wonder Woman instead … & keep Spiderman company!

  30. One time I got a quilt for a friend to put up on a very living wall. You can sew some loops on the bag so you can hang it from a bar. (Actually, we were really cheap and just cut slits in the quilt and stuck a yard stick on each side and then nailed the whole thing to the wall.) It was suppose to be a rustic, cabin look. This was in the 90’s when people put up all kind of things on the walls.

    You could also get a large artsy rug and put it on the wall.

    I have stuck fabric on walls with liquid starch before. You would still be able to see Spiderman behind it unless the fabric was very thick or dark. Spiderman would also need to have some kind of protective coating to keep the starch from affecting the finish.

  31. I say go with it and get spider web printed bedding. It looks like Spidey is spraying the webbing on the bed anyway…

  32. Obvi full force is the best option. I’m sure he’ll get all kinds of hotties with a spiderman bed. I mean, who wouldn’t?

    My second choice is curtains… and easy to patch.

    Third choice would be some sort of room divider that could be mounted on the wall.

    Fingers crossed he gets a spiderman bed though.

    xx. Patience

  33. Hilarious!
    Thanks for the laughs, just the thing to start Sunday right!

  34. Bizarre. This morning I read the article in BHG about your laundry room makeover, then I came online and Googled “Temporary Wall Coverings,” only to be led to your blog. I was sitting here staring, thinking about how oddly familiar your face looked. LOL!

    Your laundry room is beautiful. My BF commented that it looked like an actual room in the house. And thank you for sharing about temp wallpaper. I am desperate to dress up my white apartment walls a bit.

    So much love from a new follower!

  35. shadowkisses says:

    I have no idea why he’d want to get rid of it. Most girls like a hot guy with a little bit of geek in him. He should embrace the spidey. I must know what he ended up doing with this.

    • He ended up covering it in ski maps, which is decidedly less awesome than Spidey, in my own opinion. 🙂

      • These are some awesome ideas. I am looking for lots of new options for decorating my apartment walls after all the holes my heavy artwork created in my last place. I personally would not have been turned off by the Spidey in your friend’s room…but I also live in Colorado, so maybe it’s the lack of oxygen??

  36. This has to be the funniest thing I’ve ever read. I can tell you thoroughly enjoyed writing every word. Ahhhh sweet revenge…
    But on a serious note… I would not go with removable wallpaper. When it’s time to take the removable wallpaper off you never know if it could damage the mural. Who knows, maybe it was a deceased grandmother that painted it.

  37. Many of these suggestions I thought of, or agree would work…
    But Kristy Swain, your comment about Strawberry Shortcake was f-u-n-n-y! My oldest had Strawberry Shortcake sheets…oh, what a trip. Part of me says who cares? He’s renting the place–no, he can’t do whatever he wants with someone else’s house. And any suggestions that involve nails, tacks, staples, curtain rods, etc. on this wall surely never had a landlord like one we had. Before we moved in, he went through every room and wrote down every window crack, every nail and nail hole, etc. I thought he was over the top…till we moved out and he wanted to dock us some of our security deposit for nails and nail holes and window cracks that he maintained were our fault. Yep, I whipped out my copy of his–in his handwriting–record of those very same cracks/nails/holes. He was curiously silent. Heh, heh.
    I vote for bookcases. One can never have too many books and/or bookcases.
    Why is Spiderman so offensive? (This is tongue-in-cheek, but true.) I am in the middle of raising five boys in a bedroom that had Mickey Mouse wallpaper when we moved in 28 years ago. Yeah, the oldest son was then 4. Wallpaper still there; boys now in that room are 11, 16 and 18. How they suffer! (Don’t ask what the girls put up with in their room.)

    • I have to wonder about anything that gets put on the wall over superhero. When it is taken off later, will it take off part of Spiderman as well? No mention is made of how he was put on in the first place. I personally would probably put up with him or Strawberry Shortcake or whatever because I wouldn’t want to take that chance.

  38. This is great! I was trying to think of ways for Charles to attach sheets of MDF/Plywood to his wall with minimal damage/clean up when he leaves. Then I remembered a project I’m considering for my kids’ play room: an interior rock wall. With just a few 2″x4″s, Charles can attach the wood to the walls without it ever touching Spidey (who is totally hot, by the way. Don’t know why you want to hide him.) The 2″x4″s can be attached with screws just at the end, minimizing holes/patchwork. Then, Charles can attach the boards to that with as many screws as his little heart desires!! Hell, he could even build an indoor climbing wall, if he felt so inclined!!

  39. Take a fabric shower curtain and attach it to a wood frame with either nails or a staple gun. Nails would probably look better though. Hang it as wall art.

  40. I’ve used a large bamboo blind to wrap around my elliptical to hide it in plain sight. Perhaps hanging it on the wall could give it an earthy feel

  41. Picture me at 3am, unable to sleep. I decide to get on Pintrest and come across this post. At 3am, I am laughing so hard (inside, trying not to awaken the husband). Thanks for the laugh!

  42. I had a similar problem in a rental that I’m currently in. I live in the basement “bedroom,” which has a really horrible, unsightly, unfinished, off-center window on one wall. It didn’t even provide enough light because it’s around 10 inches tall and ground level, so I bought three cheap curtains and 10ft of PVC pipe, and I turned it into a curtain wall. Now it’s seriously my favorite part of my room. The walls are solid white, but the curtains are a beautifully deep and shiny gray with a bold pattern. I LOVE IT, and I totally think that’s Charles’ best option!

  43. Hahahhahahahahhahhaha

  44. Jennifer McMillen says:

    I have heard using starch with fabric is good too. Maybe avoid the whole spidey though. 🙂

  45. I realise this is an old post but I wanted to chime in since it might help others.

    OH MY GOD! What are the owners of this rental thinking? It’s utterly ABSURD to rent out a space to a grown man with a life size spiderman mural and then tell him (after he moves in) that he can’t paint over it! You just couldn’t make it up could you hahaha?

    Anyway, I wanted to add my suggestions. I have read MOST of the comments and these ideas were not mentioned however since I did not read the ALL, I apologise if any are repeats . .

    Firstly, to address the no hole or damage issue, would it be possible to find a tension rod this long? If a small piece of wood is placed between the rod and wall it would remove any chance of even a mark being left. From there, (like previously suggested) a curtain could be added, or even a some heavy or stiff fabric for a feature wall (look up diy fabric stiffener recipes – cheaper). Another option (s) would be another mural (of choice this time) but painted on canvas or a wall rug etc. Even if the pole was the whole length, to save on cash the canvas or rug does not need to cover the whole wall as long as it covered spiderman. The rug or mural could hang from chains from the rod or some kind of tab system to reduce the amount of material needed. If the owner would allow pictures etc then two or three hooks and a bamboo cane make for a very cheap curtain pole! I’ve done this in several places I have lived but usually with a white voile floaty curtain hanging on doors or at windows. The effect is beautiful and rustic.

    The only other two option I could think of was a large standing screen against the wall. However, this is expensive when bought of the shelf. However it could be made much more cheaply if someone has some handy skills. A potentially cheaper option would be to lean old doors up against the wall. If you look in pinterest you will see a ton of ideas for repurposing doors and using them as feature pieces. To hide any gaps between the doors (like those that can be seen in the art canvas demo) then paper can be blue tacked on the rear, from one door to the other, in a ‘bridge’ like effect.

    The other option that is very cheap would be wallpapered or fabric covered cardboard. Since card is so light you could easily use the 3m adhesive strips which are meant to leave no damage behind. I believe they have a velcro option which may work well. Whilst ply wood is a great option, it can work out expensive and is much heavier to hang meaning more potential damage.

  46. Je t'aime says:

    Okay, I’m new here. And I am looking for ways to cover my own ugly mural in a rental. Just moved to France, and the apartment we are renting from a family friend. Complete with pink/red kitchen, yellow bathroom, and lime-green bedroom. But this right here? This entry, made my day. Thank you for the laugh. My in-laws are French, and I am literally in their living room crying over that Spiderman bed suggestion. If only I could explain. I will now be binging on the rest of this site….

  47. Tiffany Searcy says:

    Ok so this is not letting me see when this wasn’t posted, so if this this too late then I apologize. What about a peel and stick chalkboard ? You can get them in many shapes , sizes, and colors. They are also extremely cheap and poor spider won’t get damaged. Also in the meantime he can use it to make a list of all the ways he can make it up to you and Andy that he moved to CO. Hope this helps. Again, sorry if this was a long time ago


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