5 quick and easy decorating tips for military housing

stairs with pictures

When you first move into your new home, whether it is on-base housing or off base, it can be a challenge to know where to begin decorating. I have 5 quick and easy things that you can do to help make your house feel like a home.

Paint. The first and most impactful thing you can do is paint. Paint instantly gives your home a feeling of warmth and creates depth. I know for those of us living in base housing this is not always a possibility. I also know a lot of people are only stationed at a particular location for a short period of time and don’t want to put the money or time into painting, especially if you have to paint it back before you PCS. For myself, I chose to have our downstairs painted professionally. We have lived in base housing for 6 years (with no end in sight!) For us, it was something we were comfortable with investing in since we have been here for so long. (I am the worst painter EVER and I absolutely loathe it!) I was amazed at the difference it made. I’m not saying you can’t make the white walls look awesome, you absolutely can! But, if you are feeling up for the challenge, go for it! It will be worth the effort!

(Note: Corvias Military Living does allow you to paint the walls in your home. Visit your community office for complete details on approval and expectations at move-out.)

You can go the traditional route and paint the walls a solid color. In my bedroom I chose to go with a brown accent wall. It’s a quick and easy way to add dimension to the room and it draws your eye to that area. (And it’s only one wall you have to paint instead of four!) Furniture and decor placement is important when doing an accent wall. Since your eye is immediately drawn to that wall, you want to make sure it makes a statement.

Painting a room makes a big impact

In my guest bathroom downstairs I did a striped wall. I love the impact it has on the room and it was really easy! My Mom and I were able to get it done in just a few short hours with leftover paint.

military housing bathroom

Stenciling is another great idea. I wouldn’t exactly call it quick or easy, but it’s a great way to add character to your space.

Decorating military housing

Window treatments. Curtains, Drapes, Shades, Sheers. There are so many different directions you can go. After paint, window treatments are the next most important decor piece. They are the frame work to your blank canvas. When I first decided to change up my decor/color scheme I picked out my curtains first. I knew I wanted to go with a more neutral color palette. I chose to keep my curtain color neutral, but go with a more bold pattern to give some interest and pop.

Decorating miliary housing

I chose to use a pattern that was similar to my rug to tie everything together. I also added a throw pillow to the couch with the same pattern. If you choose to go the patterned route make sure it all ties in together. You don’t want to do a bold pattern in the area rug, curtains and pillows unless they have some cohesion, otherwise, your eye won’t know where to look. You don’t want one area to compete with another. I chose to add a pillow with the same pattern to the couch but for the rest of the pillows I went with a more neutral color palette and added texture instead of more pattern. I’m not trying to discourage you from using color and mixing patterns, just make sure you don’t over do it.

I also used the same curtains in my dining room as my living room. Again, I’m trying to tie everything together and create flow from room to room. A little trick when hanging a curtain rod is hanging it higher than the actual window. I like to hang it higher because it creates height and makes the room appear larger than it is.

Curtains in Dining room

decorating military housing dining room

Some great inexpensive and easy DIY window treatment ideas to help inspire you.

Curtains Curtains Curtains

Furniture. Furniture is obviously something that everyone has in their home. But how you dress it up can make a big impact in your space. Whether adding decorative pillows with color and print to your couch, or painting that tired old dresser a fun, fresh new color.

Here is a before picture of my best friend’s sofa table. She decided she was bored with the traditional look and wanted to give it a new updated feel.

repurposing furniture

Here is the after. She painted it white, added new knobs and outlined it with thumb tacks. I think it turned out pretty awesome and it is a great, inexpensive and easy way to update your furniture. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to make a big difference.

sofa table repainted

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a huge pillow fanatic! The more the better! My husband absolutely loathes them. He doesn’t understand why the pillows are just for decoration and not for actual use. (Rolling my eyes…Men, they just don’t get it!) Pillows are a great and easy way to add personality to your room. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and textures. Layering, just like clothing, gives more visual interest. I apologize ahead of time for the repetitious use of “visual interest”. It’s my phrase of the day. Visual interest is just really important! I really need to come up with a difference phrase…any suggestions!? Another tip, you can’t have too many pillows. Ok, well, you probably can, but I have yet to find the limit. As long as you can still see a little bit of the couch, you’re ok! Don’t forget about pillow covers. If you don’t want to invest the money in the whole pillow (because they can get pricey!) opt for covers. This way you can switch them up throughout the year. Hobby Lobby and IKEA have a great selection of pillow covers and inserts.

Pillow style Pillow_pin2

Area rugs. Area rugs play a very important role in anchoring your space and making it feel finished. It’s also an easy way to add texture and pattern into the room (just like pillows!) I think it’s especially important to add an area rug to non-carpeted areas, i.e. hard wood floors/tile/linoleum, etc. Non carpeted areas tend to make the space feel cold and uninviting. For those of you who are going for the open concept look, (I mean, who isn’t!) which I happen to love, you still need to define the space. Here are a few examples of the importance area rugs make in your space.


living room without rug


decorating military housing with an area rug


military housing


family room with rug

I have always had great luck finding area rugs at Target. I think they have a great variety of patterns and colors to choose from. Another great resource is Rugs USA. They have a huge selection and really great prices.

Don’t forget about places like your kitchen and entryways. A rug or runner will help fill the negative space and again adds visual interest and warmth to the room.

military housing kitchen

area rugs as decor

Gallery Walls. I think it’s safe to say everyone has pictures of their families in a box somewhere that they’re just waiting to display. Being a military wife and being away from family can be really difficult, and I love to fill my home with pictures of them! It’s such a comfort to me seeing their faces every day! I love gallery walls. In my opinion it’s the easiest way to fill up a large chunk of wall space that you might be having a hard time trying to fill. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you can do for your gallery wall.

You can do all framed pictures. I love the simplicity of this gallery wall. It’s clean and simple. (You can get frames just like these at IKEA for a steal!)

This is a great idea when trying to decide how to arrange your gallery wall. It’s so tempting to just start putting nails in the walls and hanging, but it’s better to go in with a game plan. I always do the paper cut outs first! It’s time consuming but it’s much easier then having to fill nail holes, and you’ll be much happier with the finished product!

I love the idea of a monogrammed gallery wall, such a unique idea and so many stores now carry monogrammed letters.

Decorating with monograms

This is my dining room gallery wall. It’s the first wall you see when you walk in the front door so I wanted it to be eye catching. I mixed family photos with other wall decor pieces. The “hello” is probably my favorite piece. I have seen this used in so many different ways! If you don’t have it, run to Hobby Lobby and snag it! (Make sure to use your 40% off coupon if it’s not on sale already!) When creating a gallery wall, anything goes! I usually start with left over pieces I have that I’m not sure where I want to put. Arrange them on the floor first to get a feel of how you want to place them on the wall.

gallery wall decorating

I also did gallery walls on my stair walls. Your stair walls are the perfect spot for displaying your family photos. I did a military theme for all of my husbands awesome accomplishments since he’s been in the Army. Since we don’t have space for an office for him, (before you feel bad for him, he has a Ravens football man cave!) I decided the stair walls would be the perfect canvas. There is a formula you can use when hanging pictures on the stair wall, but I chose to wing it. I started by placing everything on the floor and arranging it how I wanted it to go on the wall. I then started as close to the middle of the wall as possible and worked my way out. This can be really tricky so using the formula and measuring probably isn’t a bad idea! (I had a lot of holes to patch before I was happy with it!

stairs with pictures

stairs with pictures

Don’t forget to always make sure your house feels like a “home”. That is the most important advice I can give you when decorating your space. Whether it’s your temporary home or your forever home. Make sure you fill it with the things you love the most!


About the Author:

Hi, I’m Kristin. Army wife, midwestern-er, hairstylist, lover of all things decor! I am currently residing in Maryland with my husband and loyal canine companion, Oscar. We have lived here for 8 years, which in Army time is basically forever. I have worked full time as a hairstylist for the past 10 years but spend any and all extra time trying to make our base housing feel like a home! For all the military wives out there, you know, the struggle is real. 

My love for decorating started when we were first stationed in Maryland. Our wedding gift from my parents was to furnish our first home together…Willow Leaf Lane. I was amazed how much a little paint and a million trips to Home Goods could make! (Oh, did I tell you we have 3 Home Goods just in the immediate area?! SCORE!) After a few years in that house we decided to try living in base housing. 6 years later we’re still here! I dream about the day we have our “forever home” and I can do all the modifications I want! But until then, I will work with the white walls I was given.