HOW TO

How To Make A Builder Grade Home Your Own

Steph Morris of North + Birch gives five tips to add charm and character to your freshly built house.

Steph Says…

With its deep and ornate trim work, coffered ceiling, and leathered wood banisters, it’s hard not to fall in love with the charm of historic houses. So many of us dream of living in one of these types of homes, surrounded by old growth trees, embracing the creaky floors and telling tall tales of the resident ghost that lives in the basement. But if a level foundation and an open floor plan barged into your dreams of historic home ownership, here are five tips to add charm and character to your freshly built house.

Warm it up with wood

Whether it’s board & batten in the dining room, vertical shiplap in the living room, or a wood beam or two on the kitchen ceiling, adding wood detailing is my favorite way to turn a newly built house into a home. Paint it white for a fresh and clean look or let the warmth of the wood steal the show with a natural stain color.

Be bold with wallpaper

Take advantage of the smooth and level drywall that comes with a new house and have fun with a patterned or textured wallpaper. From a classic grasscloth, to a dark and moody floral, or a whimsical toile, take a leap of design faith and show off your personality with wallpaper. If you don’t know where to start, consider the powder room or dining room because those tend to be the spaces where fun and practicality go hand-in-hand.

Replace builder grade lighting

Let’s be frank, no lighting in your house should closely resemble an upper body female appendage. Swap out those lights with a classic and simple selection while focusing on more memorable pieces for a handful of areas. An antique chandelier in the dining room or painted cast-iron pendants over the kitchen island will quickly make you forget that those builder grade lights ever resided on your freshly painted ceilings.

Hardware remix

Long gone are the days of matching your hardware from room to room. Keep it interesting by switching up the hardware on your cabinet drawers and closet doors. Use a brass and glass knob on your bathroom vanity, polished nickel on your built-ins, or a copper and leather pull in your powder room. A little variety can go a long way. Here is a fun tip: If you fall in love with a cabinet pull that would blow your budget by using it throughout the kitchen, then let it have its moment by keeping it limited to just the island.

Decorate with intention

One of the most inviting qualities of an older home is the eclectic mix of furniture and décor from multiple eras and geographical locations. Pair a Turkish rug with a midcentury chair and top it off with a new sofa. Pick up a well-loved bench at a local antique fair that will be the perfect partner to your dining room table. Combining vintage items with your new pieces not only helps the planet, but it allows you to create a space that reflects and embraces your individuality.

Blue room with black chalkboard and pink children's chairs
DIY board and batten picture and custom children’s furniture designed by North + Birch for a generic hallway niche

Final thoughts

Whether you are a DIY weekend warrior or prefer to leave it to the pro’s, these simple tips can add to the story of turning your house into a home, a place to create memories and write your own history.