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Making Your Army House a Home

We’ve all heard the saying “Home is where the Army moves us.” In many ways, that is so true! One thing I’ve struggled with since my husband joined the Army was making our new “homes” feel like home. Before he joined, we owned a house. I was infamous for changing the paint color in a room whenever my husband left the house for the afternoon. By the time we sold the house, I believe the dining room had been painted four times…in a little more than 2 years!
But when you go back to apartment living or renting a house (as we have), it can be difficult to make it really feel like your own. Here’s my list of tips for how to accomplish it.

1. Move In

I know you’re thinking I have lost my mind. Move in? Well of course you’re going to move in to your new house. What I mean is unpack all of your belongings. Don’t leave things boxed up just because “well, we’ll probably be moving again in X amount of time anyway.” Unpack the boxes, put things away and MOVE IN! If you must keep some boxes packed, then try to at least put them out of site in attic space, a closet or spare room.

When we moved into our first Army apartment, it was half the size of the house we were living in previously. The second bedroom was piled to the ceiling with boxes. You could barely even walk in the room. Thankfully, we’ve been able to move into a larger place. But that apartment never felt like home – and not being able to unpack the boxes was a huge part of that.

2. Paint the Walls

Many people assume that just because they are renting, they are stuck with stark white walls. But are you sure? Many rental places (including some on post housing) will let you paint the walls as long as you paint them white/beige again before you move. To me, to be able to have some color on the walls is well worth that effort. But then again, I like to paint!

I’ve also never quite understood the mentality of the rental owner. Why white or barely off white walls? First, they show the slightest little mark so much more. Second, they’re incredibly dull. The rental would actually look better with a little bit of color. I understand keeping a neutral color scheme but even medium beige would be great!

Be sure to check with your landlord (or the housing office) first. Unfortunately, we’re in a place right now that won’t allow paint!

3. Decorate the Walls

Whenever I move to a new place, I always like to hurry up and get the pictures hung.

Once we have art on the wall, including family pictures, it just feels like home. And it feels finished and complete. I’ve been in many apartments of friends who have nothing on the walls. It makes it so drab! Even if you will be there for a short time, hang up those pictures!

If you’re short on cash but would still like to be able to add art to the wall, check out the craft stores. Many have posters that can be framed very inexpensively and will add a lot to your décor.

4. Incorporate Rugs

This goes back to that neutral color palette. Not that I want colorful carpet, but light beige wall-to-wall carpet is boring! Just by adding area rugs or throw rugs, you can add a splash of color and create a cozier feel in the room.

But be forewarned about adding rugs on any linoleum floor. Unknown to me, rubber backed rugs can have a chemical reaction to the linoleum causing it to yellow. It is supposedly permanent though I’ve heard from several that with a LOT of elbow grease, you can get it back to the original color. Don’t find out the hard way like I did!

5. Hang Curtains

Nothing screams “we’re only here temporarily” more than bare windows! Since in most rentals, there is no molding around the windows and those lovely blinds, this is an area that can really detract from the “homey” feeling of your new place. Curtains do not have to be expensive. You can find great deals at some of the mass merchandisers and the department stores. I’ve even seen people use twin bed sheets and it’s definitely better than nothing.

Since we can’t paint where we currently are, this is how I added color in my office. I like for my office to be a happy place but the off white walls, beige carpet and plain windows were just not cutting it. I went out and found very pretty, bright curtains in tropical colors. You would not believe the difference that $20 investment has made in the room. It is a much happier place now!

6. Add Greenery

Where we are, we have a very small patch of yard in the front and the back of the house. It makes an incredible difference (with permission of course) to add a few plants. If you don’t want to (or are not allowed) to actually plant in the ground, consider adding greenery or flowers with potters instead. It instantly gives it a home feeling to have a planter with fresh flowers or greenery by the front door. And while you’re at it, add a few blooms inside too!

Do you have tips to share? How have you made your house feel like a home? Let me know by leaving a comment.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Anyae September 15, 2010, 5:26 pm

    How many duty stations have you lived at since your husband joined? I know he is now retired, but I’m just curious as to the places you’ve lived. Also, great decorating tips! :-)

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