Looking for nine ways to customize a builder grade home? I have made more changes to my home that I can list – but here are the nine best!
Do you live in a custom home? Is it your dream home? I have only owned two homes in my lifetime and both are builder grade homes which is a VERY common sight in Southern California 🤪.
And while I absolutely LOVE my home, there are many structural things I would have done quite differently from what the builder decided to do.
That said – there are still plenty of changes that make a big impact in a builder grade home and help make it feel like a custom home.
Trust me – we’ve done A LOT of them over the years!
We moved into our builder grade home on Christmas Eve 2003.
We were the first owners of this home which means I got to pick multiple upgrades to the basic home the builder starts with. It’s akin to customizing the interior of a custom built home – but you still don’t get to change anything about the exterior of the structure nor where the interior walls are 🤪.
We made plenty of upgrades at the time like flooring, kitchen and bathroom countertops & cabinets.
The above photo from 2003 just touches my heart ❤️. Those little tricycles are long gone as my kids are now 21, 24, and 26. And let me tell you – these last 19 years have FLOWN!! In fact – I wrote a blog post about my journey with empty nesting where I opened my heart – be sure to read it (when you are done figuring out how to customize your builder grade home that is ;).
Sorry – I got sidetracked looking at those little bikes! Back to all things house:
As with everything- with time, many of those upgrades we signed up for in 2003 of course have become outdated.
While I would love to be able to build my own home from scratch, that is just not in the cards for us.
So the next best thing is to make this home of ours as non-cookie cutter as possible 😊.
I am here to tell you that even if you have a builder grade home like I do- there are so many changes you can make to your home to make it feel more unique than the neighbor next to you with the same house.
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In a rush?
Ideas on How to Customize a Builder Grade Home
Change the Window Casings
My style has always been very simple. More recently I have been using the term ‘modern farmhouse’ to describe my home style but really it’s a combination of craftsman and farmhouse.
Shall we call it crafthouse? 😂
The standard builder grade casings are okay enough but if you are looking to make your cookie cutter home more of a custom home – this is a great place to start!
The simple farmhouse window and door casings look is sooo easy to achieve. It’s literally just a few pieces of straight wooden trim boards from Home Depot or Lowe’s installed with a nail gun. Of course there is some finish work involved.
Be sure to read my board and batten blog post where I talk about what finish work can entail.
Replace the Interior Doors
If you are going through the effort to change your casings- you might as well go all the way with changing out the actual doors too!
I accidentally stumbled upon these interior doors at Home Depot about five years ago and could not get them out of my head for years.
We even looked into a door company coming and changing out the 13 doors we have in our house. Let me just say their bid came back WAAAYYYY OVERPRICED!
If you are yourself or know a handy craftsman – you can easily knock this project out without paying an exorbitant amount.
Upgrade the Front Door
Changing your front door is obviously a great deal more entailed than just changing out the casings.
In fact – there must be 1000’s of doors to choose from. Lucky for me- I have always loved the Craftsman entryway door look so when we decided to change out our front door back in 2014- I immediately knew which door I was buying!
Get Rid of Outdated Stairwell Posts
I cannot take credit for coming up with this simple idea on how to change the look of your stairwell.
We had a boy scout troop dad that was painting the exterior of our house back in 2014 and I was complaining to him about our builder grade staircase.
He was the one that said – well why not cover the posts up?? 😳
So he sawed the acorn tops off of the newel posts and covered the whole thing with more of a modern craftsman millwork look.
And voila- no removal of any stair spindles or newels but an upgraded custom look that I love!
Replace All the Builder Grade Lights
Have you ever heard the term boob light?
Why do builders even use boob lights? In case you don’t know what they are – they are cheap ceiling lights that look like a boob (pretty self explanatory I know but figured I would help you out just in case 😂).
The quicker you can change out all those boob lights – the better.
We finally changed out our last one in my daughter’s bedroom when we did her board and batten in summer 2020.
Phew that only took 17 years to get rid of all those boobs…
Upgrade the Sink Faucets
Sinks and faucets are another place that builder grade home builders go cheap.
You can obviously go all out in this area.
And truth be told, I do have a couple of expensive faucets in my house (the kitchen and home office faucets were not that cheap 😬).
But the rest of the faucets are just upgraded Moen faucets. Another easy enough change ;).
I have to confess though that we are rather spoiled with having a neighbor that is a plumber ;).
We can just call him for all our plumbing needs whenever we have them.
Yup – this includes a simple faucet replacement.
And yes – we have changed out every single faucet in this house…
Change the Bathroom Mirrors
You know the standard builder grade mirror right?
We have five bathrooms in my house and only one of those cheap builder grade mirrors left in our house.
And we actually added trim to that last one to make it not even look like a builder grade mirror.
I also spray painted the trim of my master bathroom mirrors when I did my epic DIY bathroom remodel project last summer.
The other three bathrooms in the house have new mirrors – one that I did immediately upon move in back in 2003 and the other two when we remodeled those bathrooms a few years ago.
Add Accent Walls
My favorite change to our builder grade home is to add accent walls!!
We have them everywhere and in all textures.
It’s funny I was worried it would make my home seem busy to have so many accent walls in one 3800 square foot home but you really do not get that sense when you walk around my house. Well at least I don’t 😂.
I have an entire post dedicated to my accent walls that you should definitely go check out!
I promise you will love seeing all the options ;).
It’s like my home is an accent wall showcase warehouse for you to browse…
Build Built In Cabinetry
Another thing I am kinda obsessed with? Built ins!! They add places to sit, storage, and just plain character to ANY space!
We have five custom built in’s in our house – including the one above in my master bedroom.
Built in cabinetry is the perfect way to really make your home custom AND functional.
My builder grade home is quite lacking in the storage department so built ins really kick that up a gear for us!
I hope this post was inspirational with my nine ways to customize a builder grade home.
What really makes a house a home is the love that is in it. Size and similarity to the other houses on the street do not make a difference in what makes a house special. It is you and your loved ones that make it unique. Follow your intuition and make changes to your builder grade home that make YOU happy and will make you smile as soon as you walk in the door ;).
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~ T.S. Eliot
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