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    4 Ways Military Renters Can Transform Their Home's Unused Space

    Military renters know that each home they move into has quirks to overcome and embrace. For example, some lucky duck renters inherit room space that’s often left unused.

    Today, rarely used formal living and dining rooms often have hidden transformation potential that could drastically change, for the better, the way your family lives.

    living area with couch, chair, desk, and books

    Photo from iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

    Tailor the Transformation to Your Needs

    If you have a room that you think is perfect for a redo, remember that the most important aspect of a room update is creating an area that genuinely serves your family's needs. Think about your hobbies and daily routines. Let your imagination run wild and personalize the space to reflect your family’s lifestyle.

    Transformation Inspiration 

    Pinterest Power

    Before diving into the transformation, gather inspiration! A conversion project is served well by a couple of hours searching Pinterest. It's a treasure trove of creative ideas for all things home décor. Keep in mind while oohing and ahhing—that you’re searching for temporary or rental home safe ideas. 

    You can also find inspiration from your favorite interior designer, decorator’s blog, or social media. If you don’t have a famous personality that you can count on, check out shows on HGTV or follow some of the influencers that large companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s hire to enhance their websites’ DIY projects.  

    If you’re still on the fence about upgrading your unused dining or living room space, these popular ideas might just give you the inspiration you’re looking for. 

    formal living room transformed into home office space with desk rug and shelving

    Photo from Canva

    1) Home Office Haven 

    Home offices aren’t going anywhere anytime soon (especially for work from home military spouses), so breathe life into a formal dining room by creating a purposeful home office. Give your existing furniture a new job, like converting a buffet or large vanity with drawers into a desk. You can also add comfy chairs and ample lighting for virtual meetings. 

    Speaking of meetings, don’t forget to account for your Zoom background when planning new paint or artwork on the walls. Easy-to-move pin boards and movable shelving networks keep you organized and inspired, while woven baskets or decorative boxes hide office supplies.

    children's playroom with toys and furniture

    Photo from iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

    2) Kid-tastic Playroom 

    A playroom is a necessity in some parents’ eyes because containing the colorful clutter that covers every inch of a home is almost impossible with little ones in the house. A playroom might even be more important than an existing office space. So, change an unused room (with a door, preferably) into a playroom hideaway for the kids. 

    First, define the space with colorful rugs and beanbag chairs. Then, add a storage ottoman,  clothing dressers, or movable shelving towers (mounted to the wall for safety) for books, games, and craft storage. Don't forget to incorporate interactive elements like a chalk/whiteboard easel or a magnetic play mat. You can even hang large felt maps with cling on felt states, countries, and continents. Talk to your teacher friends for more classroom ideas that can transfer to a playroom. 

    book reading nook in home library with chair and book shelves

    Photo from iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska 

    3) Relaxing Reading Nook Retreat 

    Want to encourage more time spent off screens? Carve out a quiet space in an unused room for a serene reading nook. Place a comfortable armchair or an extra twin/day bed near a window for natural light, add a side table for your lamp and books, and drape a warm blanket over the seating for more comfort.

    String or fairy lights add a magical touch for the kiddos, creating an enchanting escape. A reading room is also a great place to finally let the kids put up the store-bought teepee tents they dream about. 

    On the other hand, a reading retreat is also perfect for empty nesters who want a designated area to get away from it all. Add a wine refrigerator or coffee cart to elevate the cozy factor. If you have a door or can hang temporary curtains in the doorway, adding a daybed or high-end inflatable mattress quickly changes the room from a reading nook to guest space when needed.

    Siblings lying on the floor watching tv together

    Photo from Shutterstock 

    4) Family Movie Magic 

    Many military families find quality time while watching movies at home. Convert a large living area into a dedicated movie zone for family bonding in a flash. Invest in a projector and screen (portable options are perfect for rentals) and create an inviting seating area with fluffy blankets and pillows. Popcorn-themed décor, and possibly a popcorn machine, takes movie watching to the next level. Consider blackout and soundproofing curtains for optimal movie nights.

    Tips for a Smooth Room Transformation

    If you’ve been living with an underused room, you might be stuck on how to get started. These tips and products will put you on the right path. 

    • Set a budget. Choose affordable furniture, upcycle old pieces, and imagine DIY projects.
    • Involve your family in the planning. Encourage everyone to get excited about the new space and their role in using it.
    • Start small and scale up gradually. Don't overwhelm yourself. Begin with a few key elements and add more as you go.
    • Embrace multi-functionality. Opt for furniture that serves multiple purposes, like ottomans with storage or futons that convert into beds.
    • Don't be afraid to get creative. Use decorative accents, throws, and plants to personalize the space and add a touch of your family's personality.

    couch accent table pillows lamp curtains and window

    Photo from Canva

    Renter-Friendly Products for Your Space 

    • Removable wallpaper: Apply peel-and-stick wallpaper to add color, texture, or patterns to walls without damaging paint. Popular brands include RoomMates, Tempaper, and NuWallpaper.
    • Command hooks and strips: Hang artwork, shelves, curtains, and light fixtures without nails or screws. 
    • Floor runners and rugs: Define different areas and protect floors with stylish rugs and runners. Consider washable or reversible options for added functionality.
    • Freestanding furniture: Choose furniture that doesn't require permanent installation, like foldable tables, modular shelves, and storage ottomans.
    • Curtains and blinds: Use tension rods instead of drilling for blackout curtains for movie nights or reading nooks and sheer curtains for privacy and light control. 

    With a bit of planning, creativity, and these renter-friendly tips, you can transform the unused space in your home into a haven that truly reflects your family’s personality without forgoing your deposit. Plus, when another PCS rolls around, you’ll know exactly how to maximize every room’s potential in your next home. 

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    4 Ways Military Renters Can Transform Their Homes Unused Space

    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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