Beauty and the Budget

Decorating Tips from a Military Wife: Part II

                                                                  –written by Megan, a military wife soon to be a graduate wife

Welcome back! You can find Part 1 of Megan’s post here.

6. Clean the hardware of your doors, windows, and cabinets, or if that’s too labor intensive just replace them!  The easiest thing would be to replace handles with handles and knobs with knobs because the boring holes would be the same.  If you are in a rental, just make sure to save the old ones to re-replace before you move out.


7.  Take down any boring old lighting fixture and replace it with a funky, beautiful one of your own!  This is a little more complicated than some projects but is a lot easier than you’d imagine.  If it makes you too nervous you can always call a professional (or your dad.)

8. Definitely shop places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrifts shops.  Be sure not to take furniture and accessories that you see at face value.  A $20 side table that’s pretty fugly now could be gorgeous with a can of Chinese red spray paint.  And if it doesn’t fit into the next place you move into or your tastes change, you won’t be heartbroken to get rid of it because you didn’t spend an arm and a leg on it!  Besides its fun to hear people’s reactions when you told them “Oh yeah I spent $17 dollars on that fabulous chair!” Whaaaattt??

9. Want instant coziness in your space?  Add a rug!  Seriously, you’ll be amazed at how much it can change a space.  Personally I’d ignore all those silly rules about how many sofa legs need to be on the rug, if it makes you happy go for it!  Also, if you have wall-to-wall carpet, don’t be afraid to put a rug on top of that!  Layering rugs is super popular right now and is an easy way to bring texture and color into a space.   One more thing, don’t shy away from using a real rug in the bathroom or kitchen.  In these two rooms, which typically have a lot of “hardscaping” (cabinets, counters, appliances) a rug will make the space feel much more warm and inviting.  I promise you, unless you have a few truly rambunctious rugrats (God bless you), a real rug will hold up to the normal wear and tear that bathrooms and kitchen have to endure.

10. This last one is more of a mental tip but its something that I constantly find myself having to do.  Step away from the blogs, Pinterest, and HGTV.  These are great resources and really allow you to focus in on what you really like but they can also intensely stress you out.  I worry about the state of my home plenty of the time, but I can assure you that your friends don’t care that your dishtowels don’t match or that your curtains aren’t silk.  And as my friend told me, if they do care about these things then they aren’t your friends in the first place.   They say, “Love the one you’re with!”  And its true, one day you’ll move and have totally new design dilemmas to solve.  In the meantime embrace the perfect imperfection of your home now.  It’s where all the good stuff in life happens, whether or not it is perfectly decorated!

Beauty and the Budget

Decorating Tips from a Military Wife: Part I

-written by Megan, a military wife that will soon be a graduate wife

I couldn’t tell you how or when I first stumbled upon the Graduate Wife blog but I do distinctly remember finding myself able to relate to a lot of the experiences that I read about here, and I’m not even a graduate wife, I’m a military wife!  Well I’m a soon to be graduate wife but that’s a whole other story!  Each role requires tough personal sacrifices, long separations from the one person who you can’t bear to be separated from, and both include frequent moves where sometimes your new pad is less than stellar.

Staying in the present and decorating for your current home is always tough when you know that it is only temporary.  Everyone wants to make smart decisions about their home décor, but its hard not to worry if what you purchase now will fit into the next place.  In addition to that mindbender, many times in this gypsy lifestyle the best option is to rent rather than buy, which we all know places limitations on how much you can do.  As a military wife who has moved three times in four years and formerly employed as an interior decorator here are a few decorating tips!

1.     Paint, paint, paint!  Definitely ask your Landlord if this is allowed, but I promise you that nothing will have a greater visual impact per dollar spent then a few gallons of paint does.  Paint walls, paint doors, paint baseboards!


2.     Keep main pieces of furniture and window treatments conservative but have loads of fun mixing and matching patterns and colors with everything else.  If you are worried about curtains lengths (like I tend to be) just realize that hems can always be let out, topper treatments improvised to add height, and an oversized horizontal banding in a lovely coordinating fabric can always be added to the bottom.  Even in my very colorful home I stuck to leather furniture and grey drapes in the living room and an espresso bedroom set with white curtains in the bedroom.   But this doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING needs to be brown, black, or white; go bold with color!  Pillows, rugs, blankets, art, tchotchkes, these are all the perfect opportunity to liven up a space!

Same furniture, two different looks:

3.     Be very picky about what you buy at places such as Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or any other store like that.  Look for items that can serve double duty.  An apothecary jar can be used to hold flowers in the spring and Christmas tree ornaments during the holidays.  A basket can hold firewood when it’s winter and dog toys when it’s warmer.  Look for things that might work in any number of rooms of your house.  Maybe a pretty lamp would look nice on your foyer table, but in the next apartment you use it in your bedroom.

4.     Don’t be afraid to put holes in the walls.  Multiple holes even, because we all know it takes at least four tries until you get the picture hung juuuusttt right.  After painting this follows as the number two tip at making your house feel like a home.  Get creative with your art, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but in my experience a frame and mat can make even the most humble of art look gallery worthy!

5.     Houseplants make any space feel more alive and its healthy for you and your home.  ‘Nuff said!  Just make sure that what you bring home isn’t poisonous to Mister Dog or Madame Cat!


Come back next week for Part II!

Beauty and the Budget

Beauty and the Budget: Giving Gifts

So, we all know that Christmas is about much much more than giving gifts.  So much more.  However, if your love language is ‘giving gifts’ (like mine is) it’s a special time to shower love on those special people in your life.  I am ALL about DIY gifts, especially those that cost as little as possible to make.  I hope that if you are on a tight budget this Christmas some of the below ideas will be helpful and fun!  Enjoy!

1. {For the baby in your life}  If you are anything like me, you have to use your fingers and toes to count the number of friends and family in your life that are pregnant right now.  I have one word for you: onesie.  Being a mom myself, I can’t tell you how many onesies you go through with babies.  So it is great to have some that are fun, colorful and hand-made by a friend to add a little something extra.  I have another word for you: (well two) fabric paint.  Amazing stuff.  Pick some up at any craft store (or order online in the UK on and go to town! I recently picked up a pack of 3 onsesis for £2.50!

Print out a silhouette of any object you like.  I have included a little template here (with some  I made and others I found on google images).  Print it out and then use an exacto knife to cut out the image and then tap the ‘stencil’ onto the onesie.  Paint over the stencil and after giving it a minute to dry, pull it up.

I packaged them up in an egg carton (because I chose a farm theme).  It was free and turned out great.

Could he be any cuter?!! This is my nephew Levi modeling his rooster onesie! :)

2. {‘For the ‘butcher, baker and candlestick maker’ in your life}  Ok, really just for the baker. Super easy little gift below.  Pick up an inexpensive oven mitt (this one was only £1!).

Sew on a little heart and some buttons and tada!  It’s something special.  Tie it up fancy with a nice cookbook (tip: charity shops are GREAT places to find fun/hardly used cookbooks) and your set!

3. {‘For the hard to shop for’ in your life}  Sometimes there is that one person that you really want to find something special for, but can’t quite put your finger on what to get them.  Find something personal that you know they will love, print it out and frame it up!  I simply love finding random old frames at charity shops and markets.  You can create something pretty special for nearly 1/10th of what you would pay to have it done in a framing shop.  Rip open the backing, recover the matting, possibly paint the frame a brighter fun color, add in your personal printed piece and your done! I hope to share more on this process in a later post. You can also find frames at Ikea or even the pound shop (equivalent to the dollar store) and come out with some pretty inexpensive, but personal gifts.

I bought this frame at the pound shop, used a piece of blue paper and then wrapped it around the mat (hope to show more details soon) then printed off this lovely little image from {the graphics fairy} and added a bible verse.  It makes for a perfect gift!

I searched for some vintage postcard images online and printed off some that reflected the ‘home’ state of several good friends.  I then cut them out and framed them with a pack of .50p clip frames from the charity shop down the street!  Pretty great.

Here is another great example from a wonderful blog called: Metal and Mud.  She used the same image I used previously, but printed it on yellow paper and framed it for a piece to hang over  her bed.  All she paid for was the frames!  Great gifts huh?

She also had the absolutely genius idea to frame some fun fabric scraps and then use the frame as a dry erase board!  Talk about a fun and unique gift! And super easy and inexpensive too.

I hope to include some more fun, random and inexpensive gift ideas next week if I can get around to it!