15 Ways to Make a Builder Grade Home Look Custom [2024]

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Over the years I’ve had several clients reach out to me to help them with making decisions regarding the selections for their community-built homes.  The main reasons people reached out to me were:

1) They wanted confirmation that what they selected was going to look good. 


2) They wanted help making selections that would make the home seem more custom, rather than “cookie-cutter.” 

Making a builder-grade home look more custom involves thoughtful design choices that incorporate your personality and style.  To help you with that, in today’s blog post we’re discussing: 15 Ways to Make Your Home Look Custom.


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Whether you’ve recently moved into a new build or want to enhance your existing space, here are 15 practical tips to infuse personality and uniqueness into your home:

1. Flooring
Flooring takes up one of the largest surfaces in your home. Because of this, it’s important to choose flooring that you love and is practical for your family’s lifestyle.  If the budget allows, hardwood, engineered hardwood, stone, marble or porcelain tile are the best choices to make your builder grade home look more custom while retaining a good return on your investment.


If choosing tile, install it in a unique pattern for a more custom look


2. Invest in Your Countertops
One of the most impactful things you can do to make your home look custom is to invest in beautiful countertops for your kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room. Choose from marble, granite or my favorite for practicality, quartz.


3. Upgrade Baseboards
3” colonial style baseboards are so common. Make your home look custom by installing higher baseboards or baseboards of another style.


4. Upgrade Staircase
Many community homebuilders offer a carpeted stair option or a wood stair option, A wood stair option will look more custom – especially if you add a stair runner (which you can buy through the builder if it’s an option or do so at a later date).


If the home builder only has a few stain colors to choose from and they don’t coordinate with your flooring selection, ask the builder to leave the stairs and railing unstained so that you can match it later.  Note: Not all builders will agree to this, but it’s worth asking.

5. Upgrade Doors
If your home has high ceilings (greater than 9 feet), 8 foot or greater doors will really help to make your home have more custom appeal.

6. Special Ceilings
Vaulted, coffered or tray ceilings add character to a space, while wood beams, paneling or beadboard add charm and warmth to any home design.


Most home builders charge an additional fee to paint a new home or renovation multiple colors so homeowners often choose just one color throughout. Paint costs relatively the same no matter which color you buy. If you want to create personality in your space with a custom color scheme, I’d opt for the builder basic option and paint later.  If you need help selecting a custom paint color scheme for your home, check out our Virtual Paint Consult service or get our Paint Color Scheme eBook here.


8. Wallpaper
Wallpaper is a great way to add personality/uniqueness to a home.  My favorite places to add wallpaper are powder rooms, offices and bedrooms.


For more information about wallpaper and to receive a discount on your order using code ORANGETREE INTERIORS, check out our recent post Wallpaper 101


9. Architectural Details
Adding architectural elements can really elevate a space.  Try adding crown molding, wainscoting, shiplap, beadboard, board and batten, etc. to create character within your home to make it more unique and thus look more custom.



10. Add Built-Ins
To piggy-back on the previous idea, adding built-in bookshelves or window seats add both functionality and charm while making your home appear more custom.


11. Mirrors
Most builders provide frameless mirrors with the homes they build. While these mirrors are often large and do a good job of reflecting light into a space, they lack personality.  A great way to make your home look more custom is to replace these frameless mirrors with framed mirrors that match your personal design aesthetic. 


12. Upgrade Lighting Fixtures
Lighting plays a significant role in setting the tone of a room. Swap out basic builder-grade light fixtures for custom options that reflect your style. Consider statement pendant lights, chandeliers or sconces.  


13. Swap Out Cabinet Hardware
Replace standard cabinet knobs and pulls with unique or higher quality hardware.


14. Upgrade Faucets
Faucets are practically jewelry these days. Some of them are incredibly beautiful and will make quite an impact in helping to make your home look more custom. 


When updating lighting, cabinet hardware and faucets, etc. stick to 2-3 metal finishes max within a space for the most cohesive, custom home look.


15. Invest in Custom Window Treatments
Custom drapes, shades and shutters help to uplevel a home.  Many home builders include horizontal blinds in their design packages, but they really don’t add any value to the home or the overall design.  I recommend custom window treatments to enhance the beauty of your home while making it look more custom.



In summary, the key to making a builder grade home look more custom is to infuse it with your personality and preferences. Take your time, layer elements and enjoy the process of creating a space that is uniquely yours.


If you need help making your home feel more custom, contact us - we'd love to help you!

See some of our projects and how clients felt about the services we offer via our portfolio here and testimonials here.

Or if you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, take our DIY Interior Design Course.  It teaches my entire design process step-by-step so you can execute a beautiful design without wasting time or making costly mistakes. 

Interior Decorating Course for DIYers 2023


Searching for paint colours?  Click here to get 20 expertly curated paint colour schemes.  
paint colour schemes for home 2022
For more interior decorating and design inspiration, join our  Design Tribe.
join our interior design tribe
 And make sure to visit our furniture and home decor shop to see some of our favourite pieces for you to include in your own home designs.
 online furniture and decor shop


As always, thanks for reading.  Until next time, happy decorating!


Val from Orangetree Interiors

Certified Interior Decorator, eDesigner & Founder
Orangetree Interiors


P.S.  Painting your house any time soon?  Get our FREE Perfect Paint Colour Checklist & Coordinating Paint Colours Guide!


paint colour checklist


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