Not many of us want to be stuck inside a world of magnolia, but when it comes to tarting up our army quarters, there are limits to what you can achieve during the inevitably short time you live there, all while staying within the rules of course. However, there is hope. A quick browse online brings up plenty of ideas for adding some style to your home, and here, we catch up with three army spouses who regularly share their interiors inspiration on Instagram…
Bethan Williams @thewilliams_armylife
Military connection: Army spouse. We’ve lived in five different quarters, including one in Germany.
Have you always had a passion for interior design? Yes. For most of my childhood I grew up in rented properties. My mum was always amazing at making them homely. I would definitely say I have learnt loads from her. In our first quarter I was still finding my style and was worried about how much I could do. But as we moved around more, and my style became more apparent, I realised how little things, like hanging pictures and shelves, can make a big difference to the love you have for your house.
Where does your inspiration come from? I love looking at home accounts on Instagram, and upcycling. I think a huge amount of inspiration comes from what you have created and how you can tie it all together.
How does knowing you’re only going to live somewhere temporarily affect your choices? It plays a massive role. It’s not technically our house so ripping out kitchens and floors just isn’t achievable. However, small things make a difference. Painting a feature wall, especially in the living room, creates a space that feels instantly more homely and lovable. Putting it back to magnolia is just as easy.
What’s your advice to others? Just because you don’t own the house doesn’t mean you can’t make it a home that you’re proud of. Soft furnishings are an amazing help, adding colour and personality to your rooms – and ditch those army curtains! Lastly, love your home, love the memories you create there and love doing it in style!
Jokapeci Kama @ladykama_
Military connection: Army spouse. We’ve lived in two quarters in the last 14 years.
Have you always had a passion for interior design? Not really. It’s something that I have come to enjoy and love through the years – making our quarters feel and look homely and cosy.
Where does your inspiration come from? My homestyle is modern rustic with a touch of boho! I get my inspiration from home accounts on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
How does knowing you’re only going to live somewhere temporarily affect your choices? I love neutral colours and wood tones so I work that into my design. I have wallpapered our bedrooms with peel and stick wallpaper as it’s easy to take off when you move out. I also decorate on a very small budget as I don’t want to spend too much on a house we will inevitably have to vacate. I find decorating and doing DIY projects quite therapeutic so I choose to do them all on my own.
What’s your advice to others? If you’re decorating on a small budget like me, look for décor and furniture pieces second hand. If you check your local Facebook Marketplace, car-boot sales and thrift stores, you’re bound to find some real gems for a fraction of the price. There are so many ‘rental-friendly’ home décor designs and ideas online you can find that make your move-out so much easier.
Debbie Gillies @m.a.g.n.o.l.i.a_d.r.e.a.m.s
Military connection: Married for 16 years to serving husband Tim with two children, Olivia, 13 and Ben, 11. Currently in our seventh quarter.
Have you always had a passion for interior design? Our first quarter in Germany felt like a grey, concrete box (with hideous curtains) and I absolutely hated it at first. As soon as we got our own belongings in, changed the curtains and lampshades and added a few candles, cushions and rugs, it felt more like home. Since then I’ve seen each quarter as a new challenge, a blank canvas for us to turn into a home.
Where does your inspiration come from? I’m a huge fan of Cath Kidston. I think if I went for full-on vintage it would be a bit too kitsch for the rest of the family so I keep the florals and brighter colours for the bedrooms and go for a more subtle, traditional look downstairs. I read interiors magazines and look at Pinterest and Instagram. There is a growing number of interiors accounts from military families – I love seeing what others have done with their quarters.
How does knowing you’re only going to live somewhere temporarily affect your choices? We just wouldn’t have the time to change it all back, so I embrace the magnolia – I don’t see it as boring, just a neutral backdrop. We’ve learned to keep larger items of furniture fairly neutral – we used to have a red sofa and it clashed with too many carpets! We add colour with curtains, lampshades, cushions, pictures etc.
What’s your advice to others? Don’t feel the need to rush out and buy everything new – use what you have, make it fit. We often change which rooms we put items in from house to house. That’s all part of the fun. Plants are great for hiding unsightly features like exposed pipework. Covering carpets with rugs and the use of cushions and throws allows you to add your personal style and you can take them with you to the next house. Space can be very tight in some quarters, so it’s always useful to have a few baskets or trunks to do double duty as furniture and storage.
Don’t forget the outside – a few plants and accessories can transform even the most unappealing garden.