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5 Ways to Add Character to a New Builder-Grade Home

There are plenty of reasons you might opt for a new home with a production home builder. And, like most owner-builders, you probably had the chance to choose some of your home’s options. Still, from carpet to paint color, cabinet finish to lighting fixtures, production builders keep costs consistent by offering only a few choices for each detail of your new home. Even after choosing your favorite options, your brand-new home may still lack the charm and character of an older home, our the uniqueness of a truly custom one.

The last thing your brand-new home needs is a total renovation. Instead, here are a few details and easier upgrades that let you add your own personality and character to your builder-grade home.

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Try a ceiling treatment

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Look up! Most builder-grade homes don’t do much with the ceilings. Usually, they’re simply painted white, leaving more budget for other areas and details of the home. However, adding character to your ceilings can give your home a more lived-in, custom look. Try installing decking to give your ceiling more texture, or add a ceiling medallion to bring attention to a unique light fixture. Suddenly, your ceiling becomes less of an afterthought and more of a feature.

Swap out your hardware 

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Builder-grade hardware is pretty generic; it’s meant to appeal to as many homeowners as possible. Luckily, upgrading your hardware is a quick and easy fix that doesn’t require years of builder expertise. Get personal with your hardware: scour flea markets for interesting knobs and latches, or opt for timeless hardware that’s more your style. Just keep in mind that your new hardware should still complement the existing features in your home, creating a totally cohesive look.

Add trim to your mirrors

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Builders are notorious for bare-bones bathroom design, especially when it comes to mirrors. They usually provide you with the option to upgrade fixtures and even lighting, but most builder-grade homes simply have unframed mirrors that lack personality. Taking an afternoon to trim mirrors in stained or painted hardwood gives your bathroom a completely custom look that is anything but generic. Try matching your cabinetry finish or stain for a more refined look, or go for a bright color for a fun kid’s bathroom. Getting rid of the harsh, plain edges of unframed mirrors adds character, and, best of all, doing so doesn’t require a complete bathroom renovation.

Add feature lighting 

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Builder-grade homes often rely on plain, recessed lighting to get a brighter look in kitchens and living rooms. Sure, they’re effective, but recessed lighting won’t do much for adding character to your home. Since you’re more or less “stuck” with the lighting plan (no DIY electrical renovations, please!), you can add floor (and table) feature lighting to warm up your space and illuminate some of the more charming parts of your home.

A table lamp near a houseplant helps brighten up a dark corner. Or, create a comfy reading nook with an overhanging floor lamp and an overstuffed chair. You don’t need to change out fixtures, and you can still swap out feature lighting whenever you want to try something different.

Paint your molding

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Plain white molding is to builder-grade homes as tile is to grout: you can’t have one without the other. Some homeowners love the clean, bright look, but white molding can seem quite sterile. For a completely personalized look, consider painting your molding to add depth to your woodwork. Black molding creates a modern contrast, while a light brown makes for a more peaceful room. White might be bright, but bringing color in always adds more character.

Your new builder-grade home probably doesn’t need a full renovation. In fact, the last thing you want after the building process is to add major projects to the list of things to do. However, you can try small fixes to make what may seem like a generic home more interesting. After all, it’s your personal touches that turn any house into a home!

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