Affordable Decor for Military Base Housing
By Kristen Fredericks
SpouseLink Guest Blogger
Let me start by saying I am thrilled to be SpouseLink’s new interior design contributor! SpouseLink will be posting a series of pieces where I will describe fun, budget-friendly ideas to update your space, whether you live on or off a military base, as well as easy how-to-guides for painting stripes, refinishing furniture and so much more!
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. 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 unique space you and your family love, that reflects your personal style while also being mindful of your budget.
Knowing that you are living in a temporary home you will be leaving in a few years can be a pretty big deterrent when considering how much time and money you are willing to put into decorating it. In this article I detail how I transformed the living room of my base house into a space my husband and I absolutely love without exceeding his favorite word (and sometimes my least)… BUDGET.
After finding out we were going to be moving across the country to my husband’s next duty station at NAS Lemoore in California we weren’t sure if we should live on or off base. After a dozen pros and cons lists and much debating, we decided to live on base. Having never lived in base housing I was apprehensive and slightly terrified after finding out we would have no idea what unit we were going to be assigned until we arrived in California.
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 new home I knew it was going to take some serious work.
Although we were going to be there for only a couple years, I wanted to make the house a comfortable home for us without making any unrealistic and expensive upgrades since it would have to be returned to its original state once we moved. (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 extra-long, rectangular space was a bit of a challenge. The shape was not conducive at all 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. To brighten the room I chose a light aqua color, inspired by a $40 abstract painting from Target (they’ve seriously stepped up their artwork collection and it’s awesome). Gold accents were placed throughout the room to add warmth and compliment gold flecks in the painting and the gold and white striped curtains.
For the dining space, I refinished a brown table that was covered with scratches and indents after twenty years of abuse. I decided to go with a matte cream color using Valspar’s relatively new line of spray paint that is made specifically for wood (game changer!) It takes only a few minutes to apply and dries super quick. To conceal the scratches and indents I applied a light blue peel-and-stick wallpaper that had flecks of silver in it (another Valspar product Target carries). It can be easily removed without leaving any marks and is 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.
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).
My two favorite pieces in the room are a DIY end table and wood/glass console table. For a fun twist on an end table, I topped a plaster column with a circular piece of glass. Hobby Lobby has an awesome selection of various styles of columns as well as several different sizes of glass.
The wood and glass console table was originally supported by dark brown rotting wooden legs, I replaced the legs with white wood planks and secured the glass top to them with gold brackets. 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 on the table and a bookshelf/wine glass rack was hung above it.
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!
Although I still don’t have my mini-chandeliers in the hallway (working on it!), I have a home that’s bright and welcoming and reflective of our personal style, something I never thought I’d say about our basic base house when I first walked through the front door. 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 accompany military life.
I am thrilled to have been able to share some of the details that went into the transformation of my living room at NAS Lemoore and looking forward to sharing more design tricks, tutorials and tips!
About Kristen Fredericks
Born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, right outside of Washington, DC, Kristen attended Syracuse University where she received a degree in International Relations, specializing in National Security and Defense. After graduating, Kristen spent 8 years in DC working on humanitarian aid and security issues in Africa and the Middle East while “moonlighting” as an interior designer and event planner for fun. Her life took an unexpected yet wonderful turn when she met her husband quite fortuitously through her brother who was in flight school with him. She suddenly went from a security analyst in DC to a Military Spouse in Mississippi. After moving to NAS Lemoore in May of 2015, Kristen left her “day job” and has been able to pursue her passion for interior design full-time, working with families living in base housing on NAS Lemoore and clients in the surrounding areas of Lemoore, Hanford, Visalia, Clovis and Fresno.