tips for making a military house a home

When Ryan and I first started dating, I never anticipated living a military lifestyle. It never occurred to me that I might end up living a transient life with my family, or that making a military house a home might be my reality. Yet, here we are.

Making a military house a home was always something that I felt I needed to do. Regardless of our duration at any post, it’s important to us to have our calm in the proverbial storm. Above and beyond that, making a pseudo-permanent place feel permanent to our children is essential to their psyche. We might move them a lot, but we want them to know that home is where Daddy hangs his hat. It’s where Mommy works, where the toys have their places, and their bedroom is their space. So, when we were offered our home on JBLM, I knew I wanted to make this space our own until we PCS again in the  next couple years. I’m sharing a little bit about my approach to turning these white walls into something warm, inviting, and totally our own.

Go Piece by Piece

I’ve had a habit in the past of trying to decorate our home in one fell swoop. I desperately want to feel settled, but making a military house a home takes time. This time, I’ve gone room by room, and I’m still not done. I am, however, loving how things are coming together. There’s something about the white walls of on-post housing. They’re a blank canvas just waiting to become our own, and there’s something innately magical about that. Above all else, it’s important to take your time and be intentional.

Don’t Overspend on Furniture

I feel like I need to clarify this because we do have a ridiculously expensive dining table and benches that we purchased at Fort Drum. In our defense, it’s custom Amish-made, and we knew we wanted it when we first moved there. For the most part, however, we don’t invest too much in our furniture right now. When you move as frequently as most military families do, your household goods are bound to be damaged at some point in transit. So, we committed to not overspending on furniture or buying the good stuff until we’re settled after Ryan’s retirement. You’d be amazed what you can find on Amazon these days, and you might remember we bought an amazing bed for next to nothing. Walking in our home though, you probably wouldn’t guess it.

Tackle the Most Important Spaces First

The most important parts of the home for me were our dining area, back porch, and the living room. I knew I could take my time on Mieke’s nursery/guest room because she’s sleeping in my room for the time being, and the boys’ room is going to be a work in progress until they are ready to transition to their bunk beds. The biggest thing to figure out is where you spend the most time and what is the most important space for you and your family. We wanted our communal spaces ready first, and I’m slowly chipping away at the rest.

Make it Your Own

The beauty of post housing is that the options are (almost) limitless. You can paint (though you’ll probably need to paint it back), put holes in the wall, hang your photos, put down area rugs, re-orient your rooms as you see fit, and more. The sky’s the limit. After living in a dark rental house, I chose to go clean and bright. I wanted the sunlight of the PNW to shine through every chance we get. I’m fond of neutral palettes to begin with, so I chose not to paint. Instead, I’m opting for photos, murals, gallery walls, and pops of color here and there. Whatever your style, use it wholeheartedly when making a military house a home.

The bottom line is that this house is our home for however long we’re told to stay at this duty station. It’s not worth it to live out of boxes or feel displaced that entire time. I have a lot to say about the pros and cons of living on vs. off-post, but we finally feel like we’re home, and that makes it all worth it.