April is the month of the military child, so in the spirit of all things kids, AHRN.com has curated ideas to make sure your kids have fun and functional space in your home — even when you have to work within the bounds of your rental agreement.
For many military families, frequent moves mean that you will live in very different spaces over time. But it doesn’t have to be an obstacle to making your rental into a wonderful home that expresses your kids’ taste and interests. There is so much you can do to make a big effect, often for little cost. Let’s look at some of the elements there are to work with.
Inexpensive, DIY and makes a big impact – but you need to check your lease. You may or may not be able to paint – or might be restricted to certain colors. Whatever you do, you will need to restore it to the original color and condition as when you rented. That means if it’s a big color, you will have to use two coats of primer before restoring it to the eggshell it likely was. If your color is bold or bright, pick a tone or two down. A good compromise is to only paint one accent wall – usually the one the bed goes against. TIP: Keep the trim original. That is really hard to restore.
WALLS – FUN AND FUNCTION
Get the largest cork board you can find and put it against one free wall for the kids to pin posters, maps and pictures to without damaging the actual walls. You may want to experiment with buying cork squares and using removable adhesive on the back to cover a whole wall – TIP: Study up so you’re sure it’s affixed in a way that can be safely removed. There’s chalkboard paint that you can use as well – and it doesn’t have to go on a wall.
You can put it on a kids table top, on cabinet doors, even your fridge – we recommend you paint those pieces only if you own them. Read KylieMinteriors blog for tips on how to work with Chalkboard paint.
Since wallpaper is probably nixed in the lease, try wall decals, especially if you can’t paint. Whether letters or graphics, as an accent or a focal point, create anything from subtle patterns to a bold statement and transform a bland wall. You can even make it out of paint swatches!
You can hang something fun in place of generic ceiling fixtures without consequence. Just be sure to keep what was there in a padded box, safe on a high shelf so it won’t break, or get lost when the time comes to move and put it back up. If there is none, or to add to it, you can create all kinds of effects with lighting from night lights, cool lamp shades and ceiling projectors (stars, dinosaurs, lava, etc). Google “kids lighting” and come up with options like these from ATGstores.com.
They can transform a room as much as any paint, with far less work. You can hang curtains, drape fabric, banners or garland over rods, add colored pull shades, or attach patterned panels or shutters. Choose from a wide variety of materials, from fabric to wood, to rice paper, to bamboo, to canvas to honeycomb.
They can serve a dual purpose, like masking a non-view, or making low set windows seem higher by positioning the curtain rod well above it and hanging curtains from there. You can even put fabric on the walls as if there are windows behind when in reality, there are none!
Any major piece you buy should be bought with an eye to fitting into the next apartment too, depending on how often you move and your kids’ age (as they will outgrow them). You may want to buy a full bedroom or nursery set, but do so with an awareness of where you move next will have a different layout and size. Since your kids change so fast and you may need to leave things behind, why not look for treasures at thrift stores, Ebay or yard sales and paint those to bring the whimsy or theme to your child’s space? Or repurpose something you used in the living room, like a TV console and book shelf, into a piece for your child’s playroom, like the example below:
Whether it’s in their bedroom, bathroom, game room or clubhouse, the mudroom or the yard, storage is necessary to keep things neat and maximize space. List what you need storage for (books, DVD’s, doll animal or action figure collection, gaming accessories, and ALL those toys, many with lots of little pieces), where it makes sense to store them, and find things that work. You can go the route of traditional plastic bins, which protect contents, stack, are easy to label, and can be seen through… or choose something that serves the dual purpose of décor as storage -– like woven baskets, colorful canvas bins or ball jars.
This is where you can really do what you want – and it’s easy to change accessories out with every move you make, or as your kids grow through different stages – because these should reflect what your kids like as well. Make a big impact with themed bedding, colorful pillows, rugs, pictures. If the kids have their own bathroom, put up a whimsical shower curtains, bring in bright rugs and towels, in cool material, and have toys and kids products lining the tub in easy to remove shelving. The same goes for craft or game rooms. Introduce all the color, pattern, texture and themes that you want without incident. So let your creativity run wild!
And to aid that, Pinterest is an amazing resource. Plug any theme, color scheme or item you’re looking for into the search engine and you’ll find a plethora of ideas. Collect them on your own board before you go out hunting for them or to get what you need to do it yourself.
While all this applies whether you have an infant or a teen, if you have a nursery to decorate, DisneyBaby.com has some great visual suggestions.
Inspired? We hope so! And who knows? You may end up making improvements your landlord would want to keep! You can even talk to them and ask, if you are doing something that alters the house for the better, if they would be willing to contribute to the costs if you do the work. In any case, the important thing is to make your place a home that’s just right for you, and because you may move again, it gives you the chance to do it anew as your family grows.
Find more decor and organizing ideas from AHRN.com.
Meet Your Contributor:
Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting and buying/selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review,The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at http://lookyhereu.blogspot.com and her animal blog at http://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com.