I’m sure many of you who have lived on or currently live on a military base have been faced with the dilemma of wanting to decorate your cookie-cutter house. The temporary nature of military housing can be a pretty big deterrent when considering how much time and money you are willing to put into decorating it. Military life can be difficult, especially when your spouse is gone for long periods of time. This is perhaps the time when it is most important for many of us to feel comfortable in our temporary home. You want to turn it into a space you and your family love while also being mindful of your budget. In this blog I detail how I transformed the living room of my house in Stone Park on NAS Lemoore into a bright and cheery home my husband and I absolutely love without exceeding his favorite word (and sometimes my least)… BUDGET.
When my husband and I found out we were moving across the county to his next duty station at NAS Lemoore we decided to live on base (after at least a dozen pros and cons lists and much debate). Having never lived on a military base, I was apprehensive. Base housing is typically quite “blah” and uninviting with its faded brown wall-to-wall carpet, sterile white walls, fluorescent lighting that makes creepy sounds at night and linoleum floors. When I walked into our unit, I knew it was going to take some serious work. Although we were going to be there for only a couple years, I wanted it to make it a comfortable home for us without doing any unrealistic and expensive upgrades (I considered replacing the fluorescent hallway lights with mini-chandeliers… to my chagrin that idea was quickly shot down when my husband used his one time “husband-veto”).
I began with the living room. Deciding on the layout for the narrow rectangular space was a challenge. The shape was not conducive for a single cohesive seating arrangement and an inconveniently placed door leading into the kitchen created an awkward divide in the middle of the room. Rather than do two separate seating areas, I decided to split the room into a living room/dining room combo.
Once I settled on a layout it was time to select a paint color. A lot of people are hesitant to paint the walls in base housing, but I highly recommend it. Even if you are only in your house for a year, it makes a world of difference and the daily happiness you will get from that pop of color is well worth having to paint it back when you move or paying maintenance $20 a wall to do it. I chose a light aqua color, inspired by a $40 abstract painting from Target. Gold decor accessories add warmth and compliment gold flecks in the painting and the gold and white striped curtains. Light-colored furniture was placed throughout the room to tie both areas together. For those of you with pets and children, you don’t have to avoid light colored furniture for fear of stains. I swear by Vectra’s Furniture Carpet and Fabric Protector Spray (my white sofa is still white after one….or maybe three red wine spills).
For the dining space, I refinished a brown table that was covered with scratches and indents after twenty years of abuse. I used a matte cream color from Valspar’s new line of spray paint that is made specifically for wood in a matte cream color (game changer!) There is no sanding required, it takes only a few minutes to apply and dries super quick. To conceal the scratches I applied a light blue peel-and-stick wallpaper that has flecks of silver in it (another Valspar product Target carries). It is easily removable and durable enough to survive wine spills and hot plates. For the seating arrangement two dining chairs were replaced by an upholstered bench on one side of the table to further unify the space. Mixing up the style and color of your chairs is a fun way to make your seating arrangement unique to you.
Two DIY pieces that were super easy and inexpensive to make are an end table and a wooden glass topped console table. For a fun twist on an end table I topped a plaster column with a round piece of glass (both Hobby Lobby). The console table's rotting wood legs were replaced with white wood planks and the glass top was secured to them with metal brackets that I spray painted gold. To compensate for the lack of shelving in the room, a wood plank was placed beneath the glass top to create a second display shelf. A wine glass rack that doubles as a book shelf hangs above.
Although some items may look expensive, almost all the furniture and decor was very reasonably priced, from stores like Target, Homegoods and Michael's. It is amazing what a little paint, curtains and creativity can do to transform a space, without blowing your budget! These little details transformed our basic base house into a home that was bright and welcoming and reflective of our personal style - something I never thought I'd say about it when I first walked through the front door. Although we recently said goodbye to base housing, so many of the design details and creativity we employed have followed us to our new home. It means so much to come home to a space that brings my husband and I ease and joy and that goes a long way when dealing with the stresses that can sometimes accompany military life.