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Some of you know, that I used to be in the military.  I spent 20 years moving in and out of tiny apartments and on post housing.  One of the greatest challenges to that lifestyle is decorating a blank slate on a tight budget.

Last night, I got a few messages from a dear friend living in Germany. She has two beautiful little boys and is making their home in a rental with concrete walls that you cannot hang anything on.

You can get creative in a rental space–and still make it child friendly!

  • Start with a bright rug and add colorful pillows that are large enough to toss on the floor for extra cushions during play time.
  • Add a few cheerful blankets and keep them in a basket that you love. These can be used for forts or for serious movie snuggles.
  • I suggest washi tape for picture hanging. You can create colorful framed galleries of children’s art, photos, or even my favorite military souvenir–post cards. Washi tape adheres to just about anything and peels right off when you need it to. I have also used it to make decorative borders or add a splash of color. The best part is that there are really elegant patterns now if you want something that looks stylish.
  • With little kids–I love bins and baskets to catch and organize toys. This can quickly get out of hand, so try to purchase a matching or coordinating set and limit the amount of toys you keep in the living area. You can rotate the contents of the totes if the kids get bored. IMG_9663

Behold my not so tidy corner in the family room. To conserve space, I took two shelves and book ended them into a corner. At 7 and 10, my children use more books and art supplies. I try to keep creative materials ready. These are the same shelves that I used when they were toddlers. I just added slightly grown up looking fabrics.

  • The photo above is not “staged” because Spa City Mama is headed out on vacation and I wanted to post before I left.  The top of the shelves now contain several caddies for markers, pens, pencils, and a basket to hold construction and craft paper.
  • Also note the two nesting tables in the living area. You can pull them apart and have craft space or use them for a foot rest or stack a pile of books that you hope the kids will read 🙂  I’ve even been known to throw caution to the wind and put flowers in there when grownups come over.
  • The 26×26 pillows are an Etsy find. They are sturdy enough to be floor cushions and the bright colors make for a cheerful room. I love color–and I tend to gravitate to blue, green, and gold. My advice? Stick to two or three colors that you really love to keep a space cohesive.
  • The wool pom pom garland was something I picked up during the holidays. It keeps the kids from opening the storage closet too often (aka home of the water heater and old cd collection)
  • If your children are very young–play rugs are a wonderful investment. I love the ones marked with tiny highways and buildings so that they can zoom over them with toy cars or stroll the streets with an action figure. The best part? Roll them up when play time is over.
  • You can use a wish list or mood board online while you plan your space. If you cannot purchase everything at once–plan your purchases. It helps to see everything at once and keep you focused.
  • Last–there are a lot of great tutorials on pinterest to cover walls without hanging anything with a nail! I love the idea of using liquid starch to attach fabric. This might be great with a beautiful large piece of fabric on a wall. Decorative fabric is 58″ across. It can cover a lot of space!

See you in a week! xoxo