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    Discover Your Home Decorating Style with These 5 Questions

    What would you say if asked, “What’s your home decorating style?”

    It's a tough question for non-professional interior designers and decorators. You’d probably answer something like, “Well, it's just 'our' style—a little of this and a little of that.”

    It’s challenging for military families to transform a house into a home where decorating is concerned compared to their civilian friends because our circumstances are so unique.

    • Military housing dwellers often find it difficult to make yet another cookie cutter house reflect the people living inside, not to mention working around often outdated fixtures, lighting, flooring.
    • Military renters can feel bound to the outdated styles in a rental house they've leased. It’s always a great financial debate on whether or not to improve someone else’s property.
    • Military homebuyers sometimes suffer from overwhelming angst because they don’t know how to buy nice things to fit their pretty new house. They also have to weigh the risk of future damages from movers and/or long-term storage.Vintage mansion - a cosy dining room with a fireplace

    Photo from Shutterstock

    Trying to find a style that considers these scenarios and encompasses your current belongings, wished-for items, and the pure need for everyday furnishings can be tricky. Traditional decorating labels like Modern, Rustic, Coastal, Cottage, or Mid-century Modern might only partially fit your personal panache.

    Many of us amateur interior decorators fall into the catch-all Eclectic Style category due in part to our military travels. If you love the Tatami Mats you picked up in Japan AND the reclaimed oak wine barrel side table you found in California, well, then use them! 

    But, if you’re feeling confused about your home style, these suggestions will help you hone in on your decorating style

    Leave Room to Add Flow to Your Style

    These days, home styles flow together more and more to make unique hybrids. But for general reference (and so you know how to recognize trends), tons of online resources define specific decorating themes with fabulous photographs to mimic on your budget.

    Most people just pick what they like, and to a large degree, that’s the point, but learning to make your room look cohesive and not a jumbled mess is what it’s all about. Bright contemporary kitchen with big white table

    Photo from Shutterstock 

    5 Questions to Help You Find Your Home Style 

    When you begin learning how to decorate, answering these five questions is helpful. The answers will lead you to a beautiful, functional room incorporating what you already own, with a little room to buy what you love. You might be surprised how your current items lean to one style or another. 

    Using the dining room as an example, read over these common scenarios everyday decorators like you should consider before styling any room. 

    1) What are my priorities?

    Well, we need seating. The puppy chewed some of the chairs, and several have broken legs from our eighth move in 8 years. 

    Good news! Chairs are so easy to come by at second-hand stores and through neighborhood communities online. Someone is always moving and wants to make a buck selling their items.

    When browsing, note what type of chair you gravitate toward. For example, if you love the simple lines, check out ladderback chairs; they could fit in nicely. 

    You could have Shaker flair in your style profile if you love Ladderback chairs.

    2) What is my budget?

    Nil, nada, and nothing. But I know we have to spend some cash to update the dining room. The deep green paint makes it dark in there. I’d really like to change it to neutral paint and show off my antique American flag collection.

    A couple hundred dollars (maybe less if the space is small) can make such a difference when paint updates are needed. Remember, the better the paint quality and tools, the better the results. 

    Hey, those flags scream an Americana style, by the way.

    Happy family enjoying a healthy meal together at home in the kitchen-1

    Photo from Shutterstock

    3) How will my family use the room?

    Ideally, we would have dinner there every night, but it’s more like four to five times a month and special occasions. Oh, and we use it to build volcanoes and robots for school projects. So, no china collection in here. Casual is as casual does.

    Scrubbable surfaces and durable fabric and furnishings are a must. Or, do what a lot of families do these days and convert the formal dining room into a full-on playroom. Add double doors to hide the mess. Later, you can turn the playroom into a guest room or revert it to its original condition. 

    Kid-proof, double-duty rooms are an example of Functional style at its best.

    4) How can I work with what I have? Or...what items must stay?

    I still love our farm table, but the dents and scratches are pretty obvious. My great-grandmother’s sideboard must stay as is. It’s a family heirloom. 

    Perfect, because those items are expensive to replace but not so pricey to rehab. Re-staining or painting the table could save the piece from the trash, depending on the depth of damage. Professional refinishers do this quickly, efficiently, and most often at a reasonable price. 

    Farm table, huh? That's Rustic style 101.

    Young caucasian woman standing in art gallery front of  paintings

    Photo from Shutterstock 

    Here’s another tip.

    Support the amazing milspouses in your area. Many refurnish furniture, offer decorating or interior design services, or craft one-of-a-kind items to brighten your homes.

    5) How much time do I have to invest? Or...what is my devotion to the process?

    I have just a little devotion and even less time. My kid is in the double gifted program, and we have hours of homework every night and mad science fairs each weekend. Basically, I want the final say, but I hate shopping.

    Have you ever heard of Havenly? This genius service has in-person services, but designers also work virtually. After a fun quiz (you get to play with paint, furniture, and accessories) on your decorating preferences, you’ll have an ongoing discussion with your handpicked designer. They’ll help you choose what you need. You get to pick all the styles with professional help! 

    Planning to decorate a room takes some thought to transform into a space you love. Take some time to learn about the classic decorating styles, so you have an idea of what you like and don’t like. But don’t worry if more than one speaks to you. A little eclecticism gives you space to make adjustments as your tastes change over the years. 

    5 Resources for Decorating Military Housing

    what’s your home decorating style

    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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