Today’s post is for my friends who live in rentals. For those mil spouses who aren’t crazy about that hideous carpet in their base house. I’m sharing my story of frustration, and how I came to accept our situation. I’m sharing why I bother decorating a rental home.
*After publishing this I realized that it’s not just the mil spouses that can feel frustrated by rentals. It’s other renters, it’s homeowners who might be moving soon, it’s all of us. So if you are feeling trapped and are just waiting for that next house to decorate. Read on.
1. Because It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
I remember our first house after we got married. Matt was already living in Hawaii and I moved to be with him just two days after our wedding (we still joke that it was our three year long honeymoon). We waited four months on the “wait list” for a house on base. Living out in town was nearly impossible on the salary of an E-2. When our name finally came up on the list we felt like we pretty much hit the jack pot because not only was it finally time to have our own home but it was also brand spanking new. And for military housing, that was a big ol’ deal! I had big dreams of decorating that house. I remember saving every extra penny then spending it on “stuff” for the new house. I loved the process of making the house feel like “us” but in reality I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I had no idea what my style was. I thought I had to buy everything new. Now I don’t have a lot of regrets but if I could go back in time, I would have a nice long talk with myself and together, we would have returned every single thing I purchased. Since that’s not possible, I just learn and move on.
Now that I’ve discovered my style, I know that I like a collected over time look. Shiny showroom is just not “us.” I’m not sure if this taste has developed because I am cheap or if I became cheap because of my taste but it works out perfectly. I have found some of my favorite things in my home from thrift stores or craigslist. Other favorites are things that I’ve made like this DIY wall art.
2. Because Home is Where Ever We Make It
After our time was up in Hawaii we traded our brand new three bedroom house for a one bedroom apartment in Northern Virginia. Now I had too much stuff (because remember I went wild and bought everything you could imagine to perfect furnish my Hawaii home) and I didn’t even like most of it anymore. I felt frustrated. I felt like giving up. Why bother decorating rental after rental. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized that Home can be where ever we make it. The house itself is just a few walls in reality. Sure sometimes they come in the version of a brand new duplex or a stand alone bungalow but at the end of the day it’s not the structure that makes the home it’s the people who live in it. It sounds super cliche but seriously, I decorate my home for my family not for the house itself.
3. Because I’ve Waited Long Enough
After that first house, where I spent too much money, and too much time, I thought, you can never make it feel like home, no matter how much you spend. I thought, just wait until you can BUY your own house, that will be home. Our fifth house changed everything. We moved into our house right after Christmas. It was a cute little bungalow on base and it wasn’t like anything we had ever lived in before. It was a single family home (very rare in the world of base housing – they are typically town house style with at least one other home attached to yours), that was built in the 1930s. It had original hardwood floors and brass hardware but the kitchen and bathroom had been renovated. I fell in love the moment I stepped in the door. It figured that we would only live there for six months. This home had so much built in character. I’m not sure if it was that the house was my taste or if I just finally got it but I finally felt the desire to just stop waiting. Decorating your home to reflect the people who live in it can change the way you feel. It did for me. And now, almost eight years later (and two more houses later), this (rental) is home. I made the decision to stop waiting for better and realized that I didn’t want to look back five years from now wishing I would have just lived and enjoyed.
4. Because I’ll be Waiting Forever
The reality is my husband plans to be in them military for 20+ years. That’s at least 11 more years of moving every few years and I don’t know what the future holds. If I wait for perfect, I will be waiting forever. Perhaps, one day we’ll finally settle somewhere but that place won’t be just perfect either. We have to make where we are home.
5. Because The People I Love Live Here
I mentioned that our fifth house was the one that changed everything. In the six months we lived there we experienced so much joy. We brought Peighton home from the hospital to that house. We became a family in that house. And I finally knew, all of these places – they are just the shell. What really makes the home is US, the family inside. Home is where we make it. Home is where my people are. I want my home to be beautiful for my family – that’s why I decorate. I want us to enjoy this place and it to be a reflection of us whether it’s a rental or not.
Nothing about this house is perfect but the beautiful thing about this house is that a family who loves lives here. And that’s just the beginning…