Military Housing: Make it your Own!


via Mountain Home AFB Housing

I am assuming that, by virtue of reading MilitaryByOwner’s decorating resource articles, you have an interest in how your home looks, even if it is temporary. Military housing and the flair for home decorating don’t have to disagree with each other. Just think, each time you receive a new military home it should be clean and very neutral in color scheme. These are the two of the most important qualities to start making the housing your own. 

The suggestions that follow are a great start for showing your personality in military housing

Paint, Please!

If you are at all contemplating painting, just get it done! I know, after a tough PCS transition, the last thing most of us want to do is paint. I really do understand! But color makes so much of a difference, so you have to get it done, and soon.

Two to three years per station moves incredibly fast. The hope is to enjoy as many color-filled days as possible. Some lucky families are able to time moves-ins with a couple of days of an empty house to tackle the walls quickly.

One of my biggest regrets of our military housing career was expecting a short tour in a beautiful new home. I thought I could ignore builder grade cream color paint for a short time. I detested it each day and every time I began to consider the time and money investment of new paint, a PCS threat would rear its ugly head. Suffice it to say, we stayed in the house almost six years!

Curtain Rehab

If I absolutely cannot convince you to plan a paint makeover, there are other ways to add color to customize a cookie cutter house. Neutrality begs for color statements in obvious places such as windows. First things first, remove and store the cheap white plastic blinds. Re-hang right before move-out day. 

It’s not uncommon for military families to travel with a variety of curtains from previous homes. Here are some ideas to repurpose them:

  • Recreate their look by shortening hems to reach waist height window sills. This is easily done at a dry cleaner if you don’t sew. 
  • Dyeing light curtains a richer color is an easy DIY project. 
  • Adding a swath of about one to two feet of contrasting fabric to existing short curtains turns out a dramatic look. Make this a no-sew project by using fusible bonding web that permanently glues fabric together with the steam of an iron.

If the traveling curtain box doesn’t have a set of bold window coverings, go on a hunt for an inexpensive pair that makes a statement. Find a colorful graphic or floral print to hang several inches above the window to extend to the floor. In some rooms, windows may become a focal point by using one pair of curtains to frame multiple small windows, visually equating them to one large window.

Rug Rescue

Rugs can be overlooked as unnecessary in a home, particularly if it has wall-to-wall carpet. I disagree with their absence for two reasons. Unless the home is brand new, shampooing can only resurrect so much from cheap military housing grade carpet. Adding room rugs will put another barrier between your family and another family’s leftover messes. If the carpet happens to be new, area rugs help block harmful chemicals from your family’s skin.    

Secondly, especially in newer homes with higher ceilings, a rug acts as an anchor pulling the space together to exude coziness. Rugs also add much needed color if the walls and existing carpet are beige. Visual interest provided by patterns camouflages stains and spills while also allowing a few extra days between vacuuming sessions! Don’t forget rug pads designed to be used between two types of carpeting.

Add Charming Accessories

Accessories are small enough to pack regularly and easy to install at your newest home. They add charm to a lookalike house inexpensively.

  • Have you ever thought about trading white plastic light switch plates for painted or antique versions?  These can be purchased reasonably and changed to complement the room in which they’re located.
  • Find a way to insert your family’s initial or a monogram. Pillows are quick way to add your family’s name to the house. Comfy couch throw blankets achieve the same effect.
  • Removable vinyl has come a long way and actually can be done in tasteful and creative projects ranging from shelving inserts to decorations for a child’s room. 
  • Framed photographs of favorite people or favorite places are must. These reflect the stories of your family and who you are. Group them strategically to form a gallery wall.
  • Arrange personal collections wisely and watch how they make an out-of-a-box shelving unit look like a museum display. Items can be family heirlooms or simply stylish garage sale finds.
  • When building government homes on a budget, lighting is neglected to save money. Keep table lamps at the ready to brighten dark rooms and corners. A quick Pinterest or Etsy search will reveal hundreds of ways to customize lamp shades. 

Treat your porch as an extension of the interior of your house. Dressing up outdoor living space continues to be very popular. The ladies at 11 Magnolia Lane show just how gorgeous a military housing front porch can be. View with caution; you will be super jealous!

Of course, a thorough review of your housing lease and even a quick phone call to double check the rules for augmenting the house is imperative before beginning any house love project. After you get the "all clear," take your inspiration and make this temporary housing your own!  

By Dawn M. Smith