Making the Most of a Military Rental: Money-Saving Decorating Tips
Military families, perhaps better than anyone, know that home is truly where the heart is. After all, when you move every two years, you soon realize that home is more than the walls around you; instead, it’s the people living there and the love you share.
That said, while it may not be your “forever home,” it’s important to embrace each new location and do your best to make it comfortable and personalized to your family. Your home, whether on-base or in the community, can be a safe haven at the end of the day and can make the transition smoother and happier for all involved. Of course, you don’t want to break the bank in making your new location a cozy, happy home. Below are four easy and affordable ways to personalize military housing to fit your family perfectly.
Add Some Color
One of the easiest ways to make an otherwise non-descript rental your own is to add color to the walls. Of course, with any rental, and especially on-base rentals, you’ll want to make sure you understand the rental agreement ahead of time. If it’s very important to you, you may even want to discuss before you sign lease and ensure it’s included in the agreement. Most on-base locations require that you repaint the walls before you move out, so you’ll want to build that in to your future timelines and budget.
Once you’ve planned which colors you want and where, you can choose a do-it-yourself route, or splurge on hiring a professional painter (especially if you think you will be in this location for an extended period of time). Whether it’s all-over color, or specific accent walls to give a pop, fresh color can warm up a rental location and really make it feel like home.
Another great and affordable option is vinyl wall decals. Not only can you remove them easily (simply warm them with a hairdryer before carefully removing), they are easy to apply and come in a variety of designs and options. You can choose larger scale patterns that look almost like wallpaper, or smaller accent words, poems, or sayings. Vinyl decals also make a fun option for kids’ rooms, and you can even find decals make of chalk paint, perfect for writing your own personal notes. Vinyl decals are available online and also in many large-box stores or craft stores.
Work on Your Accents
If you’ve already been through several PCS moves or have a long military career ahead of you, you’ve probably realized that your budget does not allow for new furniture for each new home. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t freshen up your living quarters with each new location. Invest in neutral slipcovers for your sofas and then brighten up occasionally with new throw pillows or, better yet, new slipcovers for the pillows themselves. Cozy, affordable blankets can add new accent colors, along with colorful area rugs to really transform a room. Even if the room already has carpet, a rug can help add additional visual interest and also preserve the carpet below, making less clean up at move-out time.
Window treatments can also make a huge difference in the homey feel of a rental. Individual panels are probably the most economic ways to go, since each new PCS location will have a different size and number of windows. Get curtain panels as tall as you can to make the room feel taller and more spacious. A money-saving tip is to buy the same style of curtain rods for your entire house, so that you can redistribute them as needed to each new PCS location and home layout (for example, a brushed metal rod with glass finials). You can also find some great do-it-yourself treatments online using ribbons, burlap, tension rods, and other affordable craft items to create affordable, non-permanent window coverings.
Shed Some Light
No need to stick with boring, overhead and fluorescent lighting. Small lamps can really add warmth to your new home, and can be placed almost anywhere, from kitchen counters to hallways, to nooks. You can also consider replacing the existing light fixtures in your rental for the duration of your stay; just be sure to label and carefully store the originals so that you can replace them when you move out.
You can find great lamp and chandelier options at thrift stores, then update with spray paint and affordable new shades from your local box store. Chandeliers are an unexpected and portable way to dress up any area in your home, from the dining table to a closet, powder room, or even laundry room. A great way to save some money and reuse your chandeliers is to use a cord cover when hanging so that you don’t have to rewire it for length at your next location.
Make it Picture Perfect
You may be in a new city or even country, but family and friends travel with you in your heart. Surround yourself with the faces of your loved ones by adding photos to your new home. A gallery wall is an easy way to showcase many photos, and it’s a trending style to mix and match different styles and sizes of frames to cover an entire blank wall (you can find these for up to 40 percent off at your local craft store by watching for regular sales). You can save yourself numerous nail holes by laying out the frames on the wall using paper templates and tape, allowing you to rearrange the placement before hanging to ensure it’s perfect. You can also add additional accents like large monogram letters or other small items that represent your family, your history, and your military service.
If you know you might not be at this location for long, or you want to reduce the number of nail holes you have to fill and repair at move-out, you can consider using multiple “floating” photo frame shelves to give a similar gallery feel, allowing for various frame types and styles. The shelves can also hold artwork, trinkets, and even small potted plants to add additional visual interest to bare walls.
As you work to make your new location a real home, remind yourself that your efforts are valuable and really can make an impact on how quickly your family settles into your new assignment. Having a peaceful place to retreat to, even in the midst of the change and stress of a new assignment, can make an intangible but very valuable difference in everyone’s life.
Written by Megan Hammons