15 Decorating Tips for Military Housing and Rentals

living room

Post from MilitaryByOwner

One of the most exciting parts of finding a new rental home is envisioning how to add your personal style. The trick is how to do that without losing your security deposit or tackling time-consuming repair projects before it's time to pack up again.

The following are more than a dozen ideas to get you off to a good start. Be patient and don’t stop tweaking until you love the outcome; it’s your home, after all. As always, carefully read your housing agreement to understand thoroughly your obligations with regard to alterations of the property.

  1. We all know PCS prep starts way before the movers arrive. Months out, add to your to-do list a search of online help. Facebook groups dedicated to your incoming base are ideal for asking specifics of military housing. For example, someone will gladly share with you a picture of what it really looks like inside a E6 home on Fort Bragg. While you’re searching online, follow fellow military spouses on their blogs and Pinterest. The ingenuity they showcase for rental property decorating is impressive.
  2. If home decorating isn’t really your calling or you want some inspiration, review free online room designers. There are multiple versions: some allow you to add your own dimensions, others create color palettes according to your preferences, and some build decorating and layout options you’ve not considered.
  3. Or, if you prefer a real, live person to help give an outside perspective for decorating your latest rental, ask around for a military spouse who does this as a career. Interior design and home decorating are portable careers, so there’s a good chance one lives near you. Plus, they’ll have the extra know-how to work around rental house restrictions. Don’t be intimidated by fees. Pros will give multiple service options from reusing your items in a new way, to actually shopping for the pieces you need.
  4. A flexible tape measure coils tightly to fit into a pocket or purse. You never know when you’ll find a treasure, and a tape measure is ideal to have on hand to check the dimensions.
  5. Before the packers arrive, begin a cheat sheet of all the measurements of your current furniture and window coverings. This will come in handy when searching for the next rental. There’s nothing worse than finding out your sectional couch won’t clear the stairway or fit into the living room after you’ve signed the lease.
  6. Don’t limit your furniture pieces to their traditional intentions. Your chest of drawers might double perfectly for a TV console in the den. Or, a large, upside down blanket basket with a serving tray on top could work as an end or coffee table.
  7. Once you discover your perfect rental, start another list of the measurements for the new home. Room sizes and windows are a good start. If you’re on the hunt for new rugs, now is the time to measure the floor space. Photos of unique characteristics and features like molding or built in shelving help to jog an overloaded memory full of PCS details.
  8. If given the chance before unpacking, use painter’s tape to outline the dimensions of your furniture on the clear flooring. Re-taping lines repeatedly is far easier than moving an antique armoire multiple times.
  9. Tension rods are a renter’s best friend. They have multiple uses from storage solutions to substituting for nails and brackets for window coverings. Rods come in various sizes, strengths, and colors and work in bathrooms as shower rods and underneath kitchen sinks to hang cleaning supply spray bottles.
  10. For another alternative to traditional window treatment hardware, check out the zero-nail hole invention, Kwik Hang. The clamp-style bracket simply taps into any window trim. No drywall repairs are necessary when it’s time to PCS again.
  11. No rental house is complete without a collection of Command Strips. Their colors have evolved from plain plastic white to brushed nickel and other updated finishes. Frames, decorative items, curtain rods, and bathroom storage are just the beginning of their magic. Be sure to buy the appropriate size for the weight of your items. Because multiple rental homes are probably in your future, it’s ideal to hold onto them to reuse in the next house.
  12. Removable wallpaper is not just for renters anymore. Homeowners are jumping on the temporary trend, which means the quality and selection are far superior than just a year or two ago. Even Target has an affordable collection online that’s worth a look.
  13. A common challenge in military housing is moving into a house with expansive lengths of wall. The size can be overwhelming. Break down the empty space into two or three visual sections with photo or art galleries and furniture placement.
  14. Embrace the features that you cannot change. Although the fireplace might not be the one of your dreams, use the mantel to showcase a collection you enjoy, whether it’s family heirlooms or treasures purchased on international trips. Stairways are also often eyesores, but using the space to showcase photography makes for an appealing focus.
  15. Outdoor living space continues to be a dominant feature when buying or renting a home. Don’t forget to add decorative touches to front porches and entryways. New address numbers and colorful potted plants add so much charm. The back patio or deck are also spiffed up inexpensively with outdoor rugs. These are available everywhere for purchase during the warm months, and the quality and styles are much improved from the days of astro-turf look alikes.

Although decorating a house that isn’t technically yours is still a challenge, temporary decorating and storage hacks continue to evolve to create even better living spaces. As rental markets in general stay strong across the U.S., you can expect to find more creative options for making your rental feel like home.

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