Local decorator helps military families make a house a home

By Nel Lampe

CSMNG writer

Military families arrive at a new base or post, find post quarters or an apartment in a nearby complex, and then begin the wait for household goods to arrive.

Everyone is anxious to get into the new quarters or apartment and make it a cozy home.

Sometimes, that’s a big challenge. The new place is so white. Every wall is painted white, the woodwork is white, the blinds are white and what isn’t white is beige. And those curtains and drapes from the last place aren’t going to fit; these windows are so much larger — what’s a military family to do?

Decorator Karen Jones has some ideas. She’s had experience helping families turn military quarters into attractive, cozy homes, in spite of those white walls. She’s helped her daughter, who lives in military quarters on a Marine base, and other clients and friends work decorating magic in base housing.

Jones, who owns a decorating store, “All About Home,” has won 14 awards for her decorating skills in the annual Colorado Springs Parade of Homes. She also decorated the Hefley Community Center in the housing area on post.

Addressing the “white walls” issue, Jones said painting is sometimes allowed if you repaint to the original color when you leave. It can be an expense to paint the whole interior twice, but perhaps painting one room — maybe a child’s room — will make a difference.

This year’s trendy colors are yellows, blues and cheery green, Jones said.

If you leave the walls white, Jones said “bring in enough color so it won’t feel so industrial — soften to make it feel like home.”

As far as those drapes that won’t fit, Jones suggests finding inexpensive panels. “Long panels feel richer. Hang them just below the ceiling extending to the floor, beside the window.” Jones said that drapes can add color and cover some of the white walls. “Cover the sheetrock, not the glass,” she said.

Jones lists these four areas of importance in decorating:

Scale

Don’t buy a sectional — it probably won’t fit the next place you live. Buy for the future. Get a decent size sofa — not one that overwhelms the room. You can fit in more furniture if the pieces are smaller in scale. Always place the biggest piece on the longest wall.

Light

Every room should have four to five sources of light. In addition to the windows, have at least three secondary light sources (lamps). Lamps should be at least 30 inches high, and no dark shades. Light gives a happier, warm feeling.

Color

Choose more neutral colors and add a punch of color through pillows — be brave in choosing fabric for pillows. Color can also be added in window treatments, wall art or area rugs (no postage-stamp rugs). Learn to use spray paint — you can paint lamps, picture frames, chairs, tables — almost anything.

Artwork

Art on the walls should be big enough — art over the sofa should fill three feet over a seven-foot sofa, she said. If the art work is not large enough, you end up buying more to fill up the space. She recommends shopping at used building material stores, garage sales, thrift stores and discount stores.

Or, take your own pictures and have them printed poster size at your favorite photofinishing shop, frame them in poster frames and hang them on the wall.

Jones found a used shutter, spray-painted it red, and hung it on a wall. To change up her own living room, she spray-painted dark frames in light blue, reupholstered a chair in light blue and bought a pair of $15 blue print drapes at Ikea.

Jones recommends two Internet sites to look for decorating ideas: Pinterest and Houzz.

Jones offers five decorating classes for $150. The first class meets in a model home she’s decorated and three classes are in private homes. The last class is in Jones’ home.

Jones will answer decorating questions from readers; email her at decondime@aol.com .

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