While you might occasionally envy your neighbor’s permanently decorated “forever home,” the chance to make your living space unique and inviting abounds when you’re a traveling military family. With a ticket to roam the world, military families have endless opportunities to soak in local culture and flare. With a little thought and creative shopping, the story of your experiences and travels can be beautifully expressed through locally-acquired home decor.
While your home will probably not be perfectly coordinated and matching, it will be ten times more special as you work your wine rack from Bahrain in with your carved Oriental chest from Korea.
So where do you look for statement pieces and how do you choose? As you explore your new home, start to take in the local feel. If you’re in a foreign country, there is likely a local specialty that you can start shopping for (i.e. clocks, humidors, local art).
Even if you’re not in a country or region known for its craftsmen, you can get creative. There is local culture waiting to be adopted everywhere — including “Nowhere, USA.”
If you’re a novice collector, educate yourself! It will make you a better buyer and motivate you to get out into your community to take in the local sites and culture. Exploration will also shape the type of pieces you want to see in your home and serve as a road map to your story.
After a period of observation and planning, you can start a local shopping/watch list. Study pricing and talk to local dealers and appraisers about what constitutes a “great find” at a reasonable cost. Then, hit up your local shops, antique sellers, flea markets and Farmers Markets!
Need some inspiration?
Let’s look to NAS Patuxent River as an example. In rural Maryland, Amish furniture builders beautifully re-purposed farm utility equipment and early American antiques are plentiful and can easily be mixed with existing pieces in your home.
Some elements that could add a little Early American “Farmhouse Chic” into your home could include:
Other ideas for incorporating this local style include:
- A plate rack with a mixed variety of vintage dinner plates
- A shelf of vintage vases or baskets
- Antique artwork in a vintage frame as a statement piece — or metal folk-art
- Salvaged, hand-hewn wooden planks as a mantle or shelf
- Quilts hung on the wall or used on a bed
Need some DIY tips and inspiration? Here are a few of our favorites!
Local flair and great stories may best be told through unexpected, repurposed pieces. A salvaged iron hand pump, copper bucket, rug beaters, or kitchen utensils as displayed décor will always be a fun reminder of your adventures to local flea markets, thrift stores or barn antique shops. These re-purposed Tobacco Carts are common around Southern Maryland and are reappearing as coffee tables.
Most importantly, think outside the box! And if you don’t love it (even if it’s a great deal) don’t buy it. You won’t want to display it in your limited space. Storytelling through décor is truly a rare luxury afforded to very few in his world. Like a photo album, your regionally-acquired pieces will serve as a reminder of fond memories of your travels while creating a unique, inviting space to host your family and friends.
We want to know:
What local pieces have you picked up at duty stations from around the world that are currently in your home?