how i upgraded my builder grade home

hello friends! i am excited to share some tips on how i made my once lack luster, cookie-cutter home one with some unique features and character, without over spending and having major regrets when we sell our home one day. so let me back up a bit, our current home was bought at the peak of the market, when it seemed most of america was buying properties for way too much and then flipping them for way too much more, in no time. our plan was to buy this house, live in it 3-5 years tops. then...well, you know how the story goes...the economy crashed and our home was no longer worth what we purchased it for. fortunately for us, we bought a home in a neighborhood we like and a location we love. unfortunately for us, it wasn't my "forever" home that i had planned on after we turned it around for a profit. i had it in my mind that we would quickly buy an old home that we would find in an even more desirable neighborhood. of course this old home i dreamed up in advance would be a fixer upper with so much character, character no one else would recognize, which would allow me would sweep in, buy it for a killer deal, and save it. well, that's for another day, until then i will be so grateful for this house, my house, and i decided i would see the character this house is capable of.

now, one way i love to shop for my home and my constant upgrades is through paypal, and i bet many of you do as well. i especially love that paypal allows for free return shipping. i don't know about you, but that alone will determine if i want to buy something - having the option to return without it coming out of my own pocket. it really makes all of the difference to me! i also love that paypal allows me to pay after delivery for my purchases! how amazing is that?!? both of these fabulous features give me such peace of mind and make shopping for my home, family, and self so much more enjoyable! so, here are a few ways we upgraded...

it started with our very basic, corner fireplace. mind you, we probably spent way too much for this upgrade when we purchased our home, but we have no regrets because we love having a fireplace to cozy up next to during winter months. we purchased it pre-build, which allowed for some upgrades to be added ahead of time. the fireplace was very basic and bland (i wish i had photos of it before), with a peachy tile against a cream wall. so, one of our first diy upgrades was to build a mantel. lucky for me, as i've mentioned in previous posts - my husband is very handy. we tackled this project about ten years ago. i tried to look for a really cool, weathered mantel at thrift stores, but no luck. so, we went to our local hardware store and saw that they actually sold pre-made mantel kits...for more than we were willing to spend. however, it prompted me to look at the pre-cut mouldings at the hardware store and we found a few to choose from. so, i designed our mantel, and my sweet husband built it. since then it has been painted three different colors (the tile too) - white, black, and now it's a dark, moody grey. here is a similar paint color - "dawn gray" by behr. basically, we built it with the pre-cut mouldings that our hardware store offered. my husband nailed and glued the pieces of mouldings to a very basic frame he built. i had him add the three rectangles as a sort of representation of our three daughters. maybe mantel building isn't your thing, but now i see old, yummy mantels all of the time at thrift stores, estate sales, ebay, and craigslist. with that said, i encourage you to look for something in your style! you don't even need a mantel, think of maybe just adding a thick, weathered beam, or even a branch above your plain jane fireplace.

another thing we tackled in our home was our very basic kitchen with builder grade cabinets. the upgraded cabinets that were offered to us pre-build were not my style, so i decided to go with the very basic maple laminate cabinets that were offered with our home. we immediately painted our cabinets white and added hardware. those two simple steps made all of the difference in our small galley kitchen. we used "kitchen" paint in a satin finish to get the job done. we also decided to add shelving in the empty awkward space that track home builders leave above the cabinets. we literally had around two feet of wasted space above our cabinets and we just had to utilize that space. first, we added glass shelving above the cabinets, and just recently replaced it with old salvaged wood from rustic recreations. we decided to use this same wood where an existing cabinets once existed to add even more open shelving. we used these simple and inexpensive brackets and painted them the same color of the wall to give them a "floating shelf" look. taking the existing cabinet down and replacing it with open shelving customized our kitchen even further and i absolutely love the look. it really opened up our entire kitchen and i love styling the shelves according to my mood.

okay, so if you follow me on instagram you know that my pink door makes cameos quite often. this door was once sooo blah. again, another basic and inexpensive door with absolutely no character. so one day i decided i was going to paint the interior side of the door pink. yes, pink. yes, my husband is a saint. so off to the hardware store i went and picked up about a hundred paint chips (more or less) ;). i (with the input of my family) chose a pink we all loved. here's a similiar pink i found called "dahlia" from behr. i painted the door in less than an hour. you guys, it made all of the difference in my tiny entryway! i am always so amazed at how much impact a little paint can make. it's one of those things that you know, but yet are always so surprised when you personally experience the power of paint.

these are just a few of the many ways we've chosen to upgrade our home, and can i tell you that it does not look like anyone else's home on our block, and that makes me so very happy. so whether you're in your not so dream home, or maybe you're renting - either way i encourage you to make the most with what you have and remind yourself to always be grateful to have a roof over your head, even if it's not the roof you had in mind. ;) it is possible with a little paint and a lot of imagination to create a home you really do love and enjoy! do not limit yourself or your home, for that matter. you don't need to spend a lot of money (if any at all), or if you do have a lot of money and want to spend it on the good stuff - go for it! my point it your home. by doing so, you will create a sanctuary and show love to all who enter it, including yourself.



*thank you paypal for sponsoring this post!