Have you faced the challenge of decorating temporary housing and making it feel like home? Whether it is an apartment or other rental, it can be tough to make it your style with so many restrictions on what you can do.
I spent most of my adult life moving into and out of military housing with my Army career husband. It was always tough to be creative and reconfigure our belongings into spaces that were so different at each location.
Inspiration was not so common and I sometimes struggled to find a fresh approach.
Today, I look around the internet and see all the amazing military members and spouses sharing their decorating stories with the world. I am proud of you all. Thank you for sharing your ideas and inspiring the world.
Get In the Right Mindset
We all want to come home, recharge and re-energize in an environment that is inviting and comforting. Those generic neutral walls and flooring of rentals and military housing can be anything but inviting and can even make us want to “get out” rather than “come on in”.
But, it’s true, most people feel overwhelmed before tackling decorating projects. Many aren’t sure where to start or it seems impossible to narrow down all the inspiration found on the internet and TV to specific wants and needs.
First, know that nothing is permanent, and most mistakes can be corrected.
Now that makes me smile… I like knowing that I can experiment and try new things! Just start small and work up to bigger and more expensive projects as you gain confidence. YOU CAN DO THIS!
Identify Your Design Style
Before you begin: Identifying your design style will help you make decisions and narrow your focus. Again, there are infinite possibilities to “pin”, “like” and “follow”.
The Designer Society of America has a simple quiz to help determine your style and preferences.
Know Your Options
First and foremost, review your lease and talk to your landlord about any changes you want to make upfront.
Your landlord or housing manager may require any permanent changes you intend to make be in writing and that you specify the condition in which you will leave the home upon vacating.
Sometimes your landlord or housing manager may help out! They will often be happy to foot the bill for materials if you do the labor or if you express that you are flexible and will work with painters or maintenance workers to help them easily make updates.
Wait, Why Would I Want to Do This?
WHY should I invest time and money into decorating my temporary living situation if I’m just going to leave in the near future?
There is no shortage of research suggesting that our home environment can comfort us when we need a lift, reduce anxiety and depression, and provide peace and harmony to our lives.
Psychology Today has several interesting articles on our emotional ties to home and its influence on our feelings of well-being.
Another in depth study based in Europe by the Happiness Research Institute and Kingfisher (Good Home Report – June 2019) suggests that “our homes are more important to our overall happiness than our income or jobs” and “account for 15% of our overall happiness.”
You don’t need to be professional to incorporate good design and evoke those feelings of happiness in your temporary living situation.
But WHEN is it worth your time, money and effort and WHEN is it not worth your time, money and effort?
As a military family, we generally moved every 2 – 4 years.
Thus, our rule of thumb was any stay less than two years meant I’d make simple changes or purchases that would easily move or adapt to our next home and resist any more permanent changes.
Staying in a home for two years or more meant I could paint, which was more often than not to my delight.
In every home, we were expected to return the home to the original paint color before vacating. This required good planning during an already busy and stressful time, but it was worth it to bring the warmth into our home.
Now let’s get to the HOW you can make your temporary home more enjoyable and inviting.
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How to Use the Planners
Although we are focused on temporary housing, much of the process can also be used for more permanent homes and even forever homes.
Some of my assessment questions concern project adaptability. Don’t disregard these questions so easily as decorating trends are always changing.
Projects that are adaptable and withstand the trending tides are your best investments for your home.
Finally, be sure to include family members or roommates in conversations about change and offer buy-in for them. This will generate ideas, open communication and limit conflict.
Time to Get Started
Disclaimer… It is really, REALLY difficult to take what I do professionally and apply it to you (a person I do not know) and your specific circumstances.
Design is a visual skill and what works for one person and home most likely will not work for another.
With that aside, I’ve tried to break down my own processes and put them into a format you can use as a tool.
Once you have these tools, it will require some vision on your part, but again… you can do this! Do not fear mistakes and if you get stuck, just search Pinterest or the internet for inspiration.
The key is to just get started.