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6 Ways to Add Character to Your Spec Home

Updated: Jun 24, 2022



Spec Home: A pre-designed home that is built by a home-builder without a specific

owner in mind


Spec homes are great because they are essentially clean slates where you can add you and your family's personal touches throughout to make it your own. But, even with adding furniture and a bit of paint, it still seems to lack character and intrigue, doesn't it? Spec homes have to appeal to many different home-buyers which is part of the reason there is typically not many design features (unless you assisted with the design process of the home). So now that you have this amazing blank canvas, how do you give it some pizazz and interest while also adding value to your home?


 

Crown Moulding


Just like a frame defines a painting, this is what crown moulding does for rooms in your home. It helps distinguish where your wall stops and your ceiling begins in a polished way while also adding character. You can even combine multiple types of moulding together to add layers and depth.


With crown moulding, the various ways on how to achieve the look you want all comes down to installation. Do you want to install it yourself or have a professional install it?


$ DIY Crown Moulding: DIY-ing it is as simple as buying your moulding from your local home improvement supplier, using a miter saw and nail gun and badda-bing, badda-boom, crown moulding! The most difficult part is trying to think through which angle to cut each end at. Would recommend watching plenty of you-tube videos, if this is your first time!


$$ High-quality: Having a contractor or local wood-worker install your crown moulding should be quick and painless (depending on your quantity of moulding and how intricate it is). If your contractor or installer is thorough, they will bring moulding samples to your home for you to browse, and even recommend which mouldings to layer to create the effect you want.


 

Wainscot


I will forever and always pronounce this as 'wains-co-A-t' (it look me a

lot longer than I care to admit that it was not actually pronounced this way). This decorative feature, typically found on the bottom half of a wall, is a great way to help break up a large wall or a blank space. This design feature also becomes a focal point where you can add your own flare. There are so many tutorials and creative ideas out there on how to achieve this look and can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.


$ DIY Wainscot: A common misconception is that the entire wainscot needs to be out of wood. This is by no means true. Wainscot can be out of wallpaper, wood, paint, whatever you feel comfortable using. If you want to DIY this feature yourself, but don't feel comfortable around power tools, you can ask Home Depot or Lowes to cut down the size pieces you need at the store. Depending on how much you cut, it isn't always free to have them cut the pieces, but it will give you peace of mind if you're hesitant to work with power tools. It will also help you get a step closer to making your home feel like your own.


$$ High-quality: Again, you can hire a millwork (cabinetry) contractor to create a one-of-a-kind wainscot piece of art in your home. Hiring a professional all comes down to your time being saved and the job being done at a higher quality.


**Another option could be to hire a local neighbor who does woodworking or a private wood-working practitioner to help save cost!


 

Lighting


Typically when a spec home is built, the home-builder picks the most off-the-shelf and inexpensive fixtures to retrofit the house with. Changing these basic fixtures (boob lights) to something that has personality, and better lighting output, can make all the difference in giving your home character. By updating your fixtures, the whole space will come together and your fabrics, paint and furniture will become more rich and vibrant.






How do you find great lighting options?


$ Inexpensive lighting websites:

- Lampsplus.com in the sale section

- Shadesoflight.com in the sale section

- Amazon also has great and inexpensive fixtures


$$ High-quality: Having an electrician buy and install a light fixture will be more for you upfront since the electrician will, more than likely, charge a percentage on top of the price of the fixture. If you are trying to avoid this, but you don't want to install the light fixture yourself, you yourself can buy the light fixture and have the electrician install it. If you already have an electrician on board that you trust, ask for the expertise on the fixture to make sure it is bright enough or is the right type of light fixture for the space. If they are a good electrician, they will be able to help you out with any electrical questions you may have before ordering.


 

Window Trim


Surrounding your windows with moulding creates depth and intrigue. Again, it's all about framing and bringing focus to your windows. Windows are unique in that they are art that changes daily, why not highlight them!


If you want to tackle this design feature, what are the next steps?


$ DIY Window Trim: DIYer and designer Lindsay Dean of @frillsanddrills has an awesome blog post about how to DIY your own window trim in an elegant way. Go check her blog post out here!


$$ High quality: Call on a contractor or a millwork (cabinetry) subcontractor. They are professionals who can install practically any window trim you have designed from the simple to the ornate. Of course, this all will cost significantly more than a DIY, but should lead to a high quality job while also providing you a time savings



 

Built-ins


There are so many pluses for this option to add character to your home. The personalization of built-ins is endless. These add storage, you can add a pop of color, you can pick the hardware, the trim and, they help frame your space while hiding all the unsightly household items you don't want on display.


$ DIY Built-ins: Although I myself have never built cabinets, I have heard from various DIY-ers that cabinets and drawers are advanced projects to take on. With that being said, nothing is impossible. There are so many tutorials with tips and tricks on how to best plan and start your built-in project. One DIY-er who amazingly just revamped her whole closet, by making her own built-ins, is Ashley Basnight of @smashingdiy. She has a 4-part highlight of her closet along with a blog post of her closet makeover here!


$$ For those on a budget with little time: Amazon, Home Depot and Lowes all have pre-made stock cabinets to where all you would need to do is secure them to either your wall or floor (or you can Taskrabbit this part out) and wallah!, new built-in cabinets. Buying cabinet /drawer pulls and knobs also help to customize and personalize these cabinets.


$$$ Hire a general contractor or a millwork (cabinet) subcontractor: If you aren't sure where to even start with new built-ins, hire a millwork contractor who can build custom cabinets for your space and get you exactly what fits your needs.

 

Stair Railing


For those that have spec homes that are two-stories, stair railings can be a focal point and a piece of art at the center of your home. It is a great design feature that can showcase your personal style. You can choose different materials for the railing (wood, steel or aluminum to name a few) and it can have various color options. Whether you want to make the railing a focal point or a feature that blends in with the rest of your home aesthetic, there are many ways to implement this feature.


$ DIY Stair Railing: DIY-ing a stair railing does not have to be a complete overhaul. You can replace just the balusters (The vertical posts that support the railing), the newel (the post at the head or foot of the stair) or replace the handrail. Also, painting your existing wood or metal railing can make a huge visual difference without costing an arm and a leg


$$ Buying a pre-made stair railing: Lowes and Home Depot both have pre-made railings that can be retrofitted to your stair. You can either install the railing yourself (make sure to do lots of research on the tools, time and expertise it will take to do this yourself), or hire someone who has experience in installing a railing


$$$ Hire a general contractor or a railing subcontractor: If you are looking for a completely custom railing that is designed and installed by someone else, this is the best route to go in. This option, although a bit more expensive, will save you time by not having to physically install the stair and it will give you the exact customized railing you want.


 

Summary


Giving your home personality can be as inexpensive or as complex as you want it to be, but don't think you have to do all these things all at once. Some of you have just bought your home. If you have, live in your home a little bit and learn how you use your home. Accrue some money back, since you just bought a house, and do little projects here and there. Your home will gain that personality as you add to it. It's taken me a bit to realize, designing your home is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the process.








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