Over the past few months, I’ve gotten a handful of requests for this post and although there are already a plethora of articles covering this topic on the internet, I’d love to share my thoughts on how to make a cookie-cutter home look unique.
The main things that cookie-cutter homes lack are character and originality. Most cookie-cutter homes are in a neighborhood filled with the same exact style, colors, and layout. (At least that’s how it is in Nebraska)
So the best thing you can do is to design your space to look different from your neighbors. (Both interior & exterior) There are many ways to do this but I find that it’s best to incorporate character where possible and upgrade standard features with designer pieces.
Below are 12 home upgrade ideas separated by price range.
$ – MINIMAL BUDGET
If you just want to spruce things up and make small changes in your home, these small budget ideas will create little pops of interest.
1. Create Feature Walls
Feature walls are one of my favorite ways to bring character to a space. It creates a focal point and it adds personality that many other cookie-cutter homes don’t have. Whether you have a large wall or a small nook, you can create a feature with wood paneling, wallpaper, paint, wainscoting, board and batten, etc.
2. Upgrade Your Trimwork
Many of the builder-grade homes that I’ve seen have very standard trimwork along the floors, doors, and windows. If you like the style of the trim in your home but the color isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to paint over it! If you don’t really like the style of the trim, I suggest you replace it with something that fits your style. I personally love a clean look so I prefer a white flat board with no decoration.
3. Install New Window Treatments
Curtains can do wonders for a space! I love the look of floor to ceiling curtains but you can also incorporate bamboo or linen shades. I suggest you stay away from wood or plastic mini-blinds as these are fairly standard.
4. Add Oversized Rug to Cover up Unfavorable Flooring
If you have unsightly carpet, tile, or wood floors, rugs are your new best friend! A large rug in the living room or bedroom that covers a large portion of the flooring will break up the monotony of carpet. A runner in the kitchen over unfavorable tile is a great option too! It’s not a permanent fix, but it can do wonders for the time being.
$$ – MODERATE BUDGET
These projects require slightly more money but they make more of a permanent impact on the home.
5. Upgrade Your Doors & Handles
Most builder-grade homes come with interior doors and handles that are either very common or very unexciting. Swapping out the doors with something more original is a great way to add personality. If you want to take it a step further, you could paint them a unique color or stain the wood to match your trim. Then upgrade your doorknobs or handles with something modern, vintage, or traditional.
6. Paint the Exterior of Your Home
Have you ever driven down a street of cookie-cutter homes that all look exactly the same? Same layout, same front door, and same paint color. One of the easiest ways to add personality to the exterior of your home is to paint it. Try a deep green or charcoal gray. In our area, taupe, gray, and blue are typical colors used so in that case, I would recommend staying away from those colors and try something new!
7. Switch Out Standard Light Fixtures
If you’ve ever lived in a cookie-cutter home, is it safe to assume you’ve had a boob light hanging from your ceiling? Yeah, not surprised. Lighting is such an important part of the home and until you swap out those dated or standard light fixtures, the space will always look unfinished or dated.
8. Switch Out Standard Faucets
Once again, it’s all about swapping out the standard features with something more stylish and current. Brass has exploded in popularity but the possibilities are endless with both chic, trendy, classic, and traditional faucets.
9. Add Transom Windows
$$$ – MODEST BUDGET
If you’ve got the budget, try these projects to really transform your builder-grade home.
10. Include Unexpected Elements On The Exterior
In Nebraska, we see a lot of vinyl siding so I love when I see unexpected elements incorporated into the siding/exterior of a home. Like cedarwood slat siding, stone, stucco, or painted brick. Whether you replace your siding altogether with something unique or mix materials to create a custom look, you can design a home like no other on your block. Funky entry tile-like in the photo above isn’t a bad option either! 🙂
11. Upgrade The Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen (and bathroom) cabinets are one of the main giveaways of a cookie-cutter home. Those dang golden oak cabinets are EVERYWHERE and that gap between the upper cabinets and the ceiling is just not my thing. Paint can help update the look but if you really want to upgrade your home, I suggest starting from scratch. Updated kitchen cabinets can seriously transform your entire home and a full remodel will also give you the chance to change the layout of your kitchen!
12. Upgrade The Flooring