We’ve owned our home for almost five years now, and in the time we’ve lived here, we’ve done a lot to make it not just a house, but a home. I tell people all the time that we’ve worked hard to take our builder-grade home and make it more like it had been custom-built just for us.
I have a dream that one day we can do one of two things, either build a home from the bottom up that is completely custom-built to our liking or buy an old fixer upper and completely tear it apart and start from scratch. A girl can dream. Until then, we’ll continue to work away, project-by-project on this little home of ours.
So, 7 things you can do to take your home from builder-grade to custom-built (just like we have done):
- Take out the carpet and replace it with something else. As of right now, the only places we have carpet in our house is the kid’s bedrooms and the small hallway between their rooms. This will probably change this year, when we rip out their carpet and add wood laminate like the rest of the house. I’m just not a huge fan of carpet. It gets dirty and just doesn’t look as aesthetically pleasing as wood or tile. We didn’t spend a lot on our “wood” floors since this is not the home we plan to spend forever in, but we know what we’ve done definitely adds some value in the long run.
- Paint the cabinets. Kitchen, bathroom and everything in between. The only cabinets I have painted in our house are the kitchen cabinets (but the bathroom cabinets are on my to-do list). But can I just say, I LOVE MY KITCHEN and I was only able to say this AFTER I painted my kitchen cabinets. The entire kitchen was instantly upgraded when I did this. You will not regret it, I promise. It adds warmth and depth and just a whole new feel to the room, I know the same thing will happen when I paint our bathroom cabinets, too.
- Paint the doors, and by paint the doors, I mean add color. White doors have nothing on black doors. I finally finished painting all of our doors a few weekends ago, until then the kid’s side of the house was still boring white doors. The black I used is not really a true black, it’s more of a brownish-black and it’s also a satin finish. I will never have a house with white doors again, even though I used to think white was so much better than the ol’ wood doors I grew up with in my childhood home.
- Add trim, anywhere and everywhere you can think of. When I painted our kitchen cabinets, my husband added height to the top cabinets with an extra piece of wood and crown molding. Then, we added trim around the bathroom mirrors, too. In both places, that extra trim (that really costs next-to-nothing) made a big improvement in such an easy way. I have also seen on Pinterest where you can do the same thing above doors to give them a little more ooomph.
- Create built-ins, if possible. We had this little (well, not really little) nook in the kid’s playroom. Mike made it a built-in shelf for the t.v. and baskets, board games and whatever other toys we see fit and I can barely remember that space before we did this. It is so much more functional now (although it is desperate need of a new fresh coat of paint after years of little kids banging toys all over it). If you have a space in your home you just don’t know what to do with, see if you can add a built-in of some sort. No easier way to say custom-built than this.
- Pay attention to the details. All around our home we’ve added little touches that make the difference in builder-grade and custom-built homes. We added hooks to our foyer area (but didn’t just through hooks on the wall), board and batten and fun tile countertops to our kitchen, a faux fireplace, heck, even just painting the walls (and in some places, like our bedroom, we did fun things with paint, like adding stripes!) makes a huge difference. When you take all of these small projects, they add up.
- Most importantly, make it work for you. The biggest advice I can give anyone trying to upgrade their home on the DIY track, is make it work for you. Find a project that you truly love, and that you feel will not only add beauty but something functional to your home, and go for it. Not only do you have something great when you are done, but the feeling you have when putting that kind of blood, sweat and tears into your home will make you love it even more (even if it’s not exactly your dream home still).
I’ve said it time and time again, this home is not our forever home, but at the same time, I can’t imagine not living here because of all the hard work we have put into it. I just hope, that the day we do put this little gem up for sale, the next owners love it just as much as us.