Since ’05, when I first became a military spouse, we’ve lived in 7 different homes. I’ll admit, when I first started this life, I used to be jealous of my friends with their “forever homes.” I’d see their projects around the house, and their renovations and feel a little disappointed by my own four white walls.
As time went on, and I became more comfortable with our lifestyle as a military family, I learned some tricks to help make our house a home, even if that home was a plain “loaner” apartment in Army housing.
How to Make a House a Home
1. Decorate the Doorway
I read somewhere that the front door is like the “smile” of your house. You want to keep that corner of your home clean and inviting. Wipe off the cobwebs, and put out some decorations. At each duty station, I get a new welcome mat, often in bright colors. You can decorate the door itself with vinyl stickers or washi tape. Depending on housing regulations, you may also be able to put out potted plants, or even a colorful bench.
This way, every time you come home, you’ll be greeted by a doorway that makes you feel happy and at home, and visitors will easily be able to find your house when you invite them over for a meet-and-greet!
2. Dress the Windows
I know it’s cliche, but I really do have a Rubbermaid tote full of drapes and curtains that I made to fit each of our homes. After 10 years, I finally have found what works for me. Personally, I hang floor length drapes around all my windows, because I know I can bring them to any house and make them work. Then, I only have to find a couple odd shaped window coverings.
For rounded windows, you can make curtain rods out of PVC pipe. French windows, or strange windows in bathrooms can be “frosted” with contact paper.
3. Fancy the Walls
You can paint base housing in most areas, but the general rule is you have to be prepared to put it back the way you found it before out-processing housing. Which means priming, and tracking down the exact paint, and spending a good chunk of change.
If you don’t want to do that, you can try using vinyl stickers, or even using fabric and starch to make removable accent wall coverings.
One word of warning with the walls- I always hang pictures and put up decorations and don’t worry too much about using wall anchors and the like… but if you do, you need to be sure you know how to make the proper repairs so it’s back to the way you found it for the final move-out inspection (patching holes, fixing the paint).
4. Paint your Furniture
If decorating the walls isn’t your thing (it’s not mine) you can brighten your space by adding colors and patterns to your furniture itself. A container of chalk paint is not terribly expensive, there are a bunch of colors to choose from, and you can really make your furniture pop with it.
If you learn how to re-finish furniture with paint, you’ll be able to collect beautiful, old pieces from the thrift store and make them look new in your home.
5. Make the Most of Patio Space
You may not be able to have a traditional garden in base housing (check with the housing office), but you can plant container gardens on the patio, or in your yard.
Container gardens can be used to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers- just about anything. Add a small table, and some chairs, and you have the perfect corner to relax in the summer.
6. Maximize Storage Space
When looking for furniture for your home, think storage as well as function. Tables with drawers, beds with drawers, sidebars with extra shelving- in a small house or apartment, you never can have enough storage space.
You can also take advantage of space on doors by hanging organizers, you can add shelving above doors, and take advantage of one of the many “small space hacks” online.
7. Make it Personal
When looking for decorations, don’t settle on just anything. Pick things that sing to you. Pictures that make you happy, knick-nacks that make you feel at home. Personally, I don’t own much that is high value, but I do have a box or two of decor that moves from home to home. These items make me happy, and they are always one of the first boxes I unpack.
The easiest way to get items you love is to make them yourself. You can find tutorials all over Pinterest for DIY crafts. I personally love string art, anything with a map, and anything with ocean glass. Making wreaths is very simple, too! Find a project you want to make, invite some friends over, and get crafting!
Enter to Win!
We’ve teamed up with a handful of military spouse bloggers who are moving pros, and want to share their best tips for making a house a home with you. You can check out their posts here:
But before you go, take a moment to enter to win one of five $100 dollar giftcards from JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores, so you can make some items for your home!
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