MilitaryByOwner is planning a series of posts to help readers to find their “home styles.”
The interior rooms will be featured with tips and tutorials to help guide you along. When reading, a little tongue-in-cheek military humor is recommended!
I think military families have a harder time making a house a home (where decorating is concerned) compared to their civilian friends, because our circumstances are so unique.
- On-base dwellers 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difficult to make yet another cookie cutter house reflect the people living inside, not to mention working around often outdated fixtures, lighting, flooring…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 feel bound to the state of the 1970s decorating in the house they've leased for three whole years. It’s always a great financial debate on whether or not to improve someone else’s property.
- Those who do buy a home suffer from overwhelming angst because they don’t know how to buy nice things to fit their pretty new house while weighing the risk of future damages from movers and/or long term storage.
Trying to find a style that takes into consideration those 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 not totally fit your personal panache.
Add Flow to Your Style
These days, styles are flowing together more and more to make hybrids. But for general reference and to know what Shabby Chic means, there are tons of online resources that define specific decorating themes with fabulous photographs to mimic on your own budget. Most people just pick what they like and to a large degree that’s the point, but learning to make your precious items cohesive and not a jumbled mess is what it’s all about.
Here’s a tip. Most of us non-professional interior designers 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! Just use them wisely.
Personally, I don’t really like labeling my style as Traditional, Contemporary, or whatever, because that means I tend to look straight down the path of that style alone and miss out on other beautiful things. Don’t think a mid-century modern home can have rustic details? Yes, it can. I just saw it done beautifully the other day. Purists, step aside.
How to Add Style to Your Dining Room
When focusing on any room in the house to stylize or decorate, it easiest to start with these five considerations first. We’ll use the dining room as the first example on how to choose a look for the 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 would like to make a buck selling their items.
When browsing, what type of chair you are you gravitating toward? Ladderback chairs? That means you might have bit of a Shaker flair in your style profile.
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 to some neutral paint to show off my antique collection of American flags.
Just a couple hundred dollars can make such a difference where paint updates are needed. The better the quality, the better results for sure. Hey, those flags scream an Americana style, by the way.
3) How will my family use the room?
Ideally, we would have dinner in 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, right? Casual is as casual does.
Cleanable surfaces and durable 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 some doors to hide the mess. Sliding barn doors are having their moment. Functional style at its best.
4) How can I work with what I have? Or...what items must stay?
I still love the farm table we have, 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 tend to be on the more expensive side to replace, but not so expensive to rehab.
Depending on how bad the damage is, re-staining or painting the table could save the piece from the trash. Professional refinishers do this quick, easy, and most often at a reasonable price. Farm table, huh? Rustic style 101.
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 hate shopping.
Ever heard of Decorist? This genius service is out of San Francisco, but their designers 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 and they assemble everything you need. Room designs start at $199.
Here’s a better tip.
Support the amazing milspouses in your area. Many refurnish furniture, offer decorating or interior design services, or just craft amazing items to brighten up your homes.
By all means, learn about the classic types of styles, but don’t marry one of them because less than 10 years later you’ll want a divorce from all of the traditional furniture you amassed for something more comfortable and cleanable.
That’s what happened to me, and it will happen to you once kids or a dog come along.