Interiorssneak peeks

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color

by Sofia Tuovinen

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge
When you live on a military base, turning the house you’ve been allocated into a home that feels comfortable and reflects your personal style can be a real challenge. Luckily for Dan, an Artillery Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, his wife Ariel knows a thing or two about transforming bland spaces into bright, bold and cheerful ones. Together with their pup Bruce and their cats Boots and Toby, Ariel and Dan share a PMQ, “Private Military Quarter,” on a Canadian Forces Base just outside Fredericton, NB. You may remember Ariel from the Before & After feature that we published last year, where we got to see her and Dan’s bedroom undergo a fantastic transformation. Today, we’re taking a peek into the rest of the cheerfully decorated home, and learning some valuable DIY tips along the way.

When Ariel and Dan moved to their current base 18 months ago, they got the rare opportunity to choose between two houses. Without hesitating, the couple went with the more recently renovated PMQ because of its upgraded features and amenities. The 50s A-frame, with its garage, big yard, double sink, powder room and air conditioning, is a rare gem among military homes. Ariel, who has recently opened a creative studio space, is also the voice behind PMQ for two, an eclectic home decor and DIY blog. As her home is her job, Ariel wanted the new house to not only be an inspiring space for her family, but for her audience as well. She started off painting everything in strikingly bright colors, but soon realized it became hard to live with on a daily basis. “When I realized I wanted something else and went about changing it, the house felt so much better,” Ariel shares. Although the home still boasts wonderful bursts of color throughout, the palette is now one that makes Ariel and Dan feel truly at home. “Each room was pared down and given a more mature color palette. It feels just right for us, and I’m glad I took the time to do that,” Ariel adds. For more play on color, there’s her studio — along with allowing her to create beautiful content, the new workspace has also helped create a desired separation between Ariel’s personal and commercial styles. “Because I no longer need my home to function as overtly for my business as before, I can make the spaces about featuring our favorites instead of what’s new,” she explains.

Not only do Ariel and Dan feel at home in their own PMQ, they also feel truly inspired by the neighborhood of PMQs that they live in. The sense of community goes well beyond sharing the same work hours and schedules — when you share the same lifestyle with all the people around you, there’s a sense of support and understanding that can be rare to find outside the bases. “Whether it be the fact that we move all the time, have been to the same bases, or have given up our own careers to support our spouses — there’s a shared sense of purpose and community that comes from that base of shared experiences, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Ariel says. “It goes to show that home really is where the heart is at, and wherever my husband and our pets are, is where I want to be.” —Sofia

Photography by PMQ for two

Image above: Ariel has infused her PMQ home with a color palette ranging from rich jewel tones to soft pastels. The view from the entrance toward the living area provides an immediate sense of the joyful style that has become Ariel’s signature. 



A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

The living room built-in unit is one of Ariel’s many DIY projects — the completely unique piece is actually a renter-friendly IKEA hack!

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

The striped stool, which serves as a side table, is a recent addition to the living room. “It’s one that has indirectly shaped the direction of the house — I’ve since added a stripe to each space in the house. It was the missing print!” Ariel shares.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

As there isn’t much room for transition from one space to the next, Ariel has used color to define each room in her 1,000-square-foot home.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

Ariel redid the dining room last year for The One Room Challenge. She had a clear vision for the space: green chairs and blue walls to cool down the warm wood tones. The mid-century modern-inspired light fixture brings the elevated sense of drama that Ariel was craving.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

Ariel drove a total of 15 hours to bring home the sideboard that now stands proudly in the dining room. “At 9 feet long it’s a behemoth in the space, but it makes my mid-century-modern-loving heart skip a beat each time I see it!” she shares. 

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

“[Our home] needs to function as a hostess space since we do a lot of entertaining, which is why the open concept [layout] on the main floor is so nice,” Ariel explains. She adds, “On a personal level, I need it to be a place my husband enjoys coming home to.”

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

As Ariel wouldn’t choose dark cabinets for her own home, it’s understandable that the PMQ’s kitchen is her least favorite space. To make the most of it, and to infuse some of her personal style, she swapped out the hardware and painted the back wall a darker teal. “Who knew that a rich color would balance out dark cabinets?”

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

In the spring we get such beautiful blooms around the PMQs, so I can’t help but snag a few for our kitchen,” Ariel admits. 

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

The entryway is a narrow space with almost no storage except for an IKEA shoe cabinet. To add depth, Ariel painted the cabinet in bold stripes  — now it’s a real showstopper!

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

Ariel and Daniel’s pets are always fighting to get in the shots — this time, Bruce drew the longest straw.


It goes to show that home really is where the heart is at, and wherever my husband and our pets are, is where I want to be.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

We installed the Bosphorus runner from Rugs USA in our stairway because we were sick of hurting our feet on the plastic [tread],” Ariel shares. “The pattern does so much to breathe life into the transitional area.”

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

The transformation of Ariel and Dan’s bedroom from a plain space to a bold bedroom with a hint of prep can be found here.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

In the bedroom, Ariel wanted to use color and pattern in a manageable way. By opting for white linens and adding in colorful accessories, she can easily change the look and feel to reflect her mood.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

To add a sense of height and to draw the eye upward, Ariel painted the bathroom ceiling black.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

As renters in military housing we cannot make any permanent changes, so we have to be able to bring it all back to square one when we march out,” Ariel explains. For a renter-friendly bathroom update that didn’t involve painting or tiling the walls, Ariel and Dan installed beadboard paneling that mimics the look of retro tiles. When it’s time to move again, the panels come down and the space goes back to what it was!

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

After living in three different PMQs, Ariel has the process down pat. Nevertheless, she’s always ready to try out new and creative ideas that add personal touches to her family’s home.

A Military Base Home Infused with Cheerful Color | Design*Sponge

One of Ariel’s favorite memories from her home is from last summer, sitting on her back stoop after setting a beautiful table for her guests. “It was the perfect evening. Our guests arrived shortly thereafter, and we had a great evening out back under the stars and our canopy of balloon lights. Summer nights don’t get much better than that.”


Shoe Cabinet – IKEA
Print – Janet Hill Studio
Card – Rifle Paper Co Elizabeth
Accessories – HomeSense Canada
Paint – Rainy Season by BEHR from the Marquee Collection

Living Room
Couch and chairs – thrifted
Rug – Rugs USA Chroma Medallion Rug in Multi
Built-ins – IKEA
Garden Stools + accessories – HomeSense Canada & thrifted
Sconces – Lamps Plus (no longer in production but similar ones can be found here)

Dining room
Table, chairs + sideboard – thrifted locally
Wall paint – Behr Marquee in Rainy Season MQ5-27m
Chair paint – Behr Marquee samples in Emerald Forest MQ303
Rug – Rugs USA Bosphorus Tecumseh Tribal Tale Triptych Rug
Accessories – thrifted and from Homesense
Lamps – Kate Spade, purchased at Homesense
Flushmount –  Wayfair Stilnovo Flen
Dinner at 8 print – Copper Dot Interiors
Mohave & River prints – Parima Studios
Butterflies, June, Eleanor prints – Jenny’s Print Shop
Leopard print pillow – Tonic Living Bianca

Paint – Hosta Leaf by Behr from the Marquee Collection
Accessories – Thrifted
Lighting – Thrifted

Paint – Flamingo Feather by Behr from the Marquee Collection
Beadboard – kit from Home Depot
Lamp over Mirror –  from Home Depot
Tripod table – HomeSense
Shower Curtain – Wayfair

All the sources are listed here


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  • So creative, cheerful, colorful, and unique. The mix of color and pattern is really inspiring. More tours like this please!

    • Thank you so much Elizabeth! The colour mixing and pattern play has definitely evolved, and I’m loving where it’s at now. Hopefully I’ve inspired you a little ;)

  • Oh gosh! This might be my favorite feature to date! As a military spouse who has spent time in bland base housing, I never imagined those unimaginative spaces could be transformed so beautifully! Wonderfully done!

    • Well hey! I love hearing from other military spouses! Definitely going to check out after this!
      I’m definitely pushing the envelope here in term of what’s allowed, but it’s totally worth it!

  • I do remember the feature on her bedroom! Thanks for sharing the rest of the house.

  • This is so ZINGY! I instantly want to be friends : D
    I am delighted by this confident , abundant yet considered “More, More, MORE!” approcach.

    • more is more – less is a bore! You def honed in on it – zingy and punchy! Let’s be friends! Come find me on Instagram :)

  • As designers we understand the importance of space. It is all about the occupant. Without personal character, space is just brick and mortar. Home is a place to land. A place of solitude and it should be created as a reflection of the resident. Even if it is deemed temporary, what better way to tribute our military families who sacrifice so much than to give them a place they can call home that is designed as a reflection of who they are now.

    • Quinn, thank you so much for so eloquently summing it up. We’re like a bunch of turtles carrying our home on our back, and this one is crazy colourful and full of teak on the inside!

  • Wow, Ariel, you are so creative and certainly have that knack for design! So talented! I love your home and all of your touches, and your art collection is to die for!

  • I love the clever use of colour in this home. The article and images have made me look at my own living area with new eyes, new ideas. This is an inspiring sneak peek!

  • About to paint my bathroom – and may have to do the ceiling black. Thank you for the inspiration! Not to mention that outdoor hosting scene…

    • You totally should! It draws the eye upwards and really makes the small space feel bigger.
      Isn’t that hosting scene to die for?! I still can’t believe I made that happen.

  • So gorgeous and I love that this is a military base rental! So full of color and life by a insanely creative lady!

  • I love this so much! Can she come and give my rental the colorful treatment too? Never would have thought to do some of these things!

  • Possibly my favorite home tour ever. Totally just bought that rug on the stairs! Your home is beautiful and so is your story. Thank you both for your service to our country.

    • Well thank you! I sure like to think of myself as such anyways, but it’s always nice to hear it from another ;)

  • Beautiful and colorful Home!!! All the Decor Pieces and Color Combination is so pretty and Eye Catchy. I like it!!

  • I think this is just wonderful.. thank you Ariel. I love Bruce the dog too.

  • Beautifully done, and with personality! There were so many pairings of colors, patterns, etc. that I’ve never quite seen used like this before and I love that about it! I wanted to spend more time discovering each room — very creative.

    • Well shucks! You can always come over to my site and check out the room is great detail ;) Thank you for all the kind words!

  • As an army brat growing up in Australia, I hated our bland box houses which were the same as all of our neighbours. Occupants were never allowed to paint walls or hang pictures. Blah. In some remote postings (eg: Darwin) all our own furniture went into storage and we had army furniture (serviceable colours and style only) for the duration of the posting. I can still remember as a 12 year old being overjoyed to see my purple bedroom suite which had been in storage for 3 years or so. Like seeing an old (colourful) friend. I revel in painting walls whichever colour I like and hanging pictures wherever I want. I am definitely not as brave or bold as Ariel. I love the joy and fun she has managed to infuse into her home.

    • Jo! You totally get it. So many people chose to live in a box of beige or brown, and don’t want to put the effort in (or can’t). I say go forth boldly with colour! Thanks for such a lovely comment :)

  • How lovely that you can paint the walls in military housing! I live in military housing where it’s not allowed

    • it’s not tecccchnially allowed, but I do it and then paint it all back before we move! They know I do it, but since I paint it back so well they’re OK with it. Maybe you can do the same?

  • Beautiful, colorful home!

    As a side note to Grace et al – having read through some of the comments/complaints/debate about (unlabeled) ads and sponsored posts re: the problems with a working DS business model, I have to say that I LOVE the affiliate links as an option! Really subtle little bar of product links in this post, but I clicked through to almost all of them and would have loved links to other little things in the individual images.

    • Hi Jay!

      Thank you so much for the kind words :) I can also help with items in particular shots! wanna email me?
      ariel@pmqfortwo.com if you send the image and ask for the product info I can send it along (as long as it wasn’t thrifted or something). Hope that helps!