Military families get used to changes (the inevitable moves) and challenges (fragmented family time). But Matthew Reyes, an operations chief stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, doesn’t take for granted what the military life means for his wife, Kayla.
He wanted to do something special for her to show his appreciation. So he turned to an expert in both home makeovers and the military life, designer and Army spouse Maria Mendez Reed.
My wife is why I can serve in the military. She always puts others’ needs first. Can you update our living room as a gift for her?
—Staff Sergeant Matthew Reyes
Reed makes over military families’ homes and films the process for her online video series, Moving with the Military. Every month, Reed tackles a makeover in a different city with the help of corporate sponsors, other military spouses, veterans, and local volunteers. She and her small crew share the families’ stories through her Moving with the Military series on Farm and Ranch TV, where it has 4 million viewers, and on her website and social channels. "The best part of what we do is the relationships we make," she says. "It’s so much more than a makeover show. It’s about impacting lives and letting military families know they matter."
Before the Makeover
Touched by Matthew's request, Reed couldn’t wait to give the Reyes family a new living room that would be all about together time. Better Homes & Gardens teamed up with Reed, kicking off her design plan with furniture from our BH&G Collection at Walmart.
Texts and FaceTime conversations with Matthew and Kayla helped Reed prioritize: bring in more seating and set a fresh scheme in keeping with the family’s style. "Our house is a hodgepodge of all the places we’ve been," Kayla says of the home she shares with Matthew and their daughter, Sadie, 10.
Laurey W. Glenn
Four Impact Moves for an Incredible Living Room Makeover
Reed helped the Reyes family look at their long, open living room with fresh eyes using these strategies.
1. Consistent Flooring
The old carpet didn’t do much in terms of style. Plus, it created a visual divide with the kitchen tile. Less disruptive: laminate flooring flowing throughout both rooms. Its wood-look launched the modern farmhouse style. Mannington's Restoration Collection laminate is waterproof and scratch-resistant.
Laurey W. Glenn
2. Divided Space
Moving the piano to a different room freed space for a fireside dining table. “It’s like we gained a whole extra room,” Kayla says. A recessed-light conversion kit and a ceiling hook made a chandelier above the table possible.
Instead of thinking of the space as one big living room and leaving empty space in the center, Reed zoned it into a TV/conversation area and a dining area. "It’s a place for us all to be together but still each have our own spot," Matthew says. A gallery wall composed of a few pieces in similar frames creates a focal point that doesn’t overwhelm, while a rug clearly defines the seating area.
Reed focused the storage on the longest wall. She teamed a pair of bookcases with a credenza that functions as a buffet. Positioning the credenza on the imaginary line between the sitting area and the dining area turned it into a bridge. "It ties the two spaces together," Reed says. "One bookcase and half the credenza hold dishware; the others have things for the living area."
Laurey W. Glenn
3. Lighter Walls
The wall-mount TV and its electrical cords used to be the first things you’d see when you walked into the house. Moving the TV from the living room entrance to this wall makes it less noticeable. So it recedes even more, Reed painted the wall dark gray.
Photos of Kayla’s favorite rooms revealed she loves color in small doses rather than on all the walls. So Reed suggested gray wall paint then brought in spots of color through artwork, pillows, and other accessories. A paint and primer in one, Glidden High Endurance Plus in Knight's Armor (PPG1001-6) conceals the old color. Framed and matted prints from Artfully Walls play out the color scheme.
4. Flexible Furniture
An upholstered ottoman functions as a coffee table or extra seating. The dining table becomes Sadie’s homework spot after dinner. Reed selected clean-lined pieces from the Walmart BH&G Collection that have versatile style. All the furniture is timeless and easy to move, so it’ll work in different arrangements—here or in their next home.
Special thanks to:
Caliber Home Loans, Better Homes & Gardens Collection from Walmart, Glidden by PPG, Mannington, Lamps Plus, Artfully Walls, Carpet One, New Bern, NC, AK Electrical Solutions, Bill Hayes, Ashton Kucmierz, Jolynn Lee, Megan Wachtendorf, Jason Frazier, Old Mill Woodworks, Bespoke Flowers. Find more information on all the products in this story here.