I don’t know what it is about decorating military housing, but every time I PCS and have to set up my new home, I have a giant wave of emotions.
At first, I’m super excited. I have a blank slate to work with! It’s a fresh start, and it’s all new and fun and wonderful! And then it’s like I’m hit with buyer’s remorse, but for renters. I suddenly notice the chipped paint and wonder if there’s old lead I have to worry about. Or I realize the upstairs toilet runs and now I have to replace the stopper.
Except I don’t know where the nearest home improvement store is and our tools are still on their way, so I have to buy more, and we just spent so much money driving across the country and I don’t want to spend even more money, and my daughter’s hungry but we don’t have anymore snacks because she spilled our last bag of pretzels on the car floor and…
Moving into a new house can be daunting – there’s so much room, or suddenly not enough! And what is with the storage closets they give us?
Honestly, how is that supposed to replace the fact that you no longer have an entire garage?
Every house needs some “welcome home” appeal. And aside from throwing some toilet paper on its holder and finally finding the shower curtain, here are a few tips for setting up your new military housing.
1. Decorate one room at a time
When you first move in, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. You want to set up the TV first so the kids can stay entertained while you unpack the forest of boxes. You also want to set up the beds first so everyone has a place to sleep. And you really want to take a freaking shower, but you have no idea where the packers put your shower curtains!
But before you start looking up the nearest liquor store, sit on the floor and take a deep breath or two. Remember, moving is a long process, and decorating your military housing is going to take a while.
That’s why I always start with one room at a time. The room I choose first changes with each move, but I like to decorate a little differently with every new house. Keeping my main decor theme and switching up accents helps to keep things fresh.
One main room I tend to start with the most is the living room. My family spends a lot of time in the living room and kitchen, and since most housing plans have a great room or open floor plan, I like to set up my big living areas first.
Then, I usually hit the bedrooms. I’ll either set up the basics, like beds and rearranging dressers, or I’ll take it further and layout the decor. Either way you do it, be sure to focus on one bedroom at a time until it’s (mostly) done. That way, when you move onto the next area, you’ll feel more accomplished.
2. Color scheme your military house
White walls with layers of old paint are the backdrop to every military house, and it drives most of us renters absolutely crazy.
When it comes to decorating military housing, choosing a color scheme is a giant leap in the right direction. Ideally, you’ll want to choose three colors to play with – one main color to focus on, and two accent colors.
You can also change this up a bit and put different color palettes on each floor. We once lived in a three-story townhouse and I centralized each floor around a different main color. I even reused our old living rooms curtains on the upper floors and updated the color scheme in the living room. The fresh look of a new color scheme made our old military house feel revitalized, and I saved money by reusing our old decor in new ways.
3. Add easy-to-move pieces to your decor
A big part of the military lifestyle is the requirement for moving when necessary. Why empty your wallet for pricey pieces, only to watch the movers unload broken furniture during your next PCS?
Personally, I don’t like buying overpriced furniture. Although a major part of me really wants the amazing matching bedroom set that would solve all of my storage problems and costs thousands of dollars, I just can’t. I simply cannot justify buying a nice set when I know we’re moving at least four or five more times and it’ll end up broken or lost.
There’s just no point.
So when it comes to decorating your military rental house, opt for pieces that you won’t have to agonize over while they’re in the possession of people you don’t know. Pieces like this Sauder bookcase or the classy Home Square bedroom set will help you not only stick to a budget, you’ll also have some swanky stuff to help update your casa.
Bottom line: by spending less, it’ll hurt less when you find out it fell apart during the move.
4. Decorate with marketplace finds
We all know how busy online marketplaces can get during PCS season. It’s like a treasure hunt on those sites! Some of my favorite household items have come from snagging freebies on my local sale pages. So remember, as soon as you PCS, join your sale page groups on social media!
I’ll also recommend looking up your local thrift stores. They make decorating your new military house affordable and pretty dang easy. I’ve found some really great things there too – usually super cheap clothing for my pole bean of a child. I swear, she’ll be 6 feet tall by the time she’s 12.
But, I’ve also grabbed some other great stuff, like the planter for my front garden for only $10! Or my daughter’s recliner (which conveniently matched the color scheme in my living room, BONUS!) which I picked up for free.
PCS season is an awesome time to find those marketplace finds and add something new to your home. Just remember – be picky. You can easily start with the idea that you’ll just “try it out” or “well, it was free”, and suddenly your tiny house is overloaded with junk.
Don’t be a junkie. Be picky.
5. ‘Flex’ your decorating muscle
The biggest key to setting up your happy home is flexibility. There will always be awkward spaces to fill with a random bookshelf, and the laundry area will probably be too small. But try not to worry.
Remember, decorating military housing takes time! And sometimes you’ll find yourself living with one setup, only to turn around and change it a few more times until you’re finally satisfied. In our current house, I’ve reorganized the living room three times! And in our bedroom, there’s this strange alcove that leads to the master bathroom. I tried to incorporate it into our setup and rearranged the dressers at least twice before finally giving up.
The point is, flexibility is important. The unfortunate reality of owning a king-size bed is that it probably won’t fit into your bedroom without a little inspiration. And you’ll probably grow to hate your living room layout. So, change it! In the end, it’s just stuff.
And remember, the real adventure of PCSing is exploring your new surroundings. Don’t forget to enjoy it!
Do you have another decorating tip? Write it in the comments below, or Contact TMH!