Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Add Character to a Builder Grade Home

Hello again! It’s Cassie here and I am excited to be back with the second part of my builder-grade home series. In my last post I talked about why we bought a builder-grade home and some of our best and worst decisions. This time I want to share some tips for how to make a builder-grade home better.
Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Most basic, builder-grade homes lack character, not all, but generally speaking they tend to lack the charm of older homes. They usually have less woodwork, basic finishes, and simple lighting- think lots of can lights! When making a builder-grade home better, these are the areas I try to focus on improving.

A great, inexpensive way to add character and charm to a builder-grade home is to incorporate vintage accent pieces and/or furniture. Flea market finds or antique store treasures can be used as-is, or up-cycled and they add good visual interest to a basic room. These items tend to have lots of yummy texture, and that’s always a wonderful thing when your house finishes lack much visual interest.

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Our living room plank wall

You can also bring some texture and visual interest in with adding woodwork, such as molding, built-ins, shiplap/pallet walls, and even doors, like the ever popular barn door.

These are things you might find in an older home or a custom built home. Some basic homes have built-ins included, but they tend to cost the most if the builder is doing them. In our own home, we have done a few plank walls, added mudroom built-ins, and are in the process of designing some fabulous barn wood doors for our office

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Our bedroom plank wall-after

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Our bedroom plank wall-before

Another inexpensive option is to update your walls. Paint is cheap in comparison to other updates and it can make a huge difference in how a space feels. There are also lots of other fun wall options, from decals to removable wallpaper, you don’t always have to make a life-long commitment to your walls, but you can play around with options that make your home feel more personal.

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Cloud decal wall and updated, vintage dresser (more from this room)

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Updated dining room chandelier – Paint color is Seaworthy by Sherwin Williams

My favorite way to add character in your home is through lighting. Lighting tends to be overlooked by many people, but it can be a huge game changer in how your home feels. Not only does adding different sources of light in your home make it feel cozier and more pulled together, the light fixtures themselves can add lots of charm and character to a home. If you buy a builder grade home and get a chance to have say where they put lights, think about any extra places you might want prewiring put in, and add your own lights later on. We chose to do this in our dining room (for a chandelier) and over our kitchen island. You can also replace current fixtures or add fixtures relatively easily if you bought your home later on.

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

Updated kitchen lighting and paint (see all paint colors here)

I hope you all find these ideas useful! 

Until next time!

Tips to Add Character to a Builder Basic Home {Part Two}

We love having our friend Cassie share periodic updates on her home and her projects. It’s so fun to see how she’s personalizing her builder-grade home!  — Melissa

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}

Hello Inspired Room Readers! It’s Cassie here again. I am excited to be sharing the first of a three part blog series today. Although it feels like yesterday, we moved into our house just over three years ago. Lately, I have been reminiscing about our homebuilding process, the projects we have done, and thinking ahead to what we might want to do in the future.

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One} The exterior of our home midway through construction.

We live in an area that has pretty much only new construction or homes built in the last ten years. As much as I love older homes and their character and charm, I knew we would probably have to buy a newer home.

There are many pros and cons to buying a newer home vs. an older home (for Melissa’s Top Ten Reasons for buying a newer house, check out this post). Buying a new/newer construction home has a lot of positives. There is less worry about the structural integrity of your home, water and electrical issues, and it is generally more turn-key. However, builder-grade homes tend to lack character, history, customization, and can have more limited options than if you were buying an older home and remodeling it.

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}

There are definitely some tricks to know when purchasing a new construction home. Although I don’t know all of them, I did learn a few things along the way. Here are some of the best and worst decisions I felt we made when we purchased our home:


  1. We chose neutral finishes. We were very lucky because we bought our home right before the finishes were selected for it. This meant we got to choose almost all the materials for the inside of our home. We tried to choose a light, neutral pallet that would work with our style and what we had, and hopefully be something we could be happy with for a long period of time.Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}
  2. Lighting- or lack there of. We had the builder prewire lighting. We chose not to have the builder install kitchen pendants or a dining room chandelier, but instead prewire so we could pick something we really loved and install them ourselves. This meant spending less money and not having to settle for something we didn’t like very much. 
  3. We kept our upgrades minimal. We kept most upgrades very simple with the idea we could work on some things ourselves later. Builders tend to mark up everything, such as blinds, lighting, built-ins, you name it. We tried to only upgrade things that would be significantly more work for us, like the lighting, speaker wiring, and cabinets.

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}Our kitchen nearing the end of construction, with just prewired lighting.

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}Our kitchen as it looks today.


  1. The paint color we put everywhere. (See this post for more on this topic.) We didn’t have them paint the ceiling and the walls different colors, but rather all a light neutral. It was much, much cheaper this way, but I now feel tied to the color of our ceiling, which has made choosing paint for various parts of our home more difficult. In hindsight, I wish we would have just chosen a truer white for the whole house. That way it would have still been more affordable, but also more versatile. 
  2. The builder’s can light choice. We probably couldn’t have done anything about this, but the can lights in our home are these very hard to find high-efficiency bulbs. Every time ones goes out, I cry a little thinking about how difficult it will be to find and replace.
  3. Pre-installed blinds. We had the builder install our blinds before we moved in because we just didn’t want to have to worry about that right away. However, now I know we could have saved so much money selecting them ourselves. We also could have been more selective in what we put in- and the builder only had two options to choose from. 

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}So much greige! For reference, the color is Sherwin Williams’ Accessible Beige.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful and can learn a little from my mistakes and experience. Next I am going to share a little of what we have done so far to create more character and warmth throughout our home. You can find that post here!

Until then,

Tips for Buying a Builder-Grade Home {Part One}

More posts by Cassie:

Add Character to a Builder-Grade Home Part Two

A Mudroom Makeover

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition