We have lived in our builder grade home for over five years now, and one of my main goals has been to make our space feel cozy and custom without the designer price tag. While I love architectural elements and high end finishes, they were not in our budget for this house. I worked hard to create a designer look with decor finds and easy DIY projects instead! Today I thought I would share my favorite ways to make a builder grade home look custom and expensive, without hiring an interior designer or contractor. I hope you find this post helpful and would love to hear which idea was your favorite in the comments.

This post may contain affiliate links.

1. Choose the Correct Rug Size

how to make a builder grade home look custom, Beige Ivied Medallion Area Rug, bedroom styling
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A quick and easy way to make a builder grade home look high end is to add area rugs. A rug adds coziness to any space and in this case, covers the shag carpet in our bedroom that I don’t love. Just be sure to choose the correct rug size for your space!

There are so many affordable area rugs to choose from–here are a few favorites:

2. Make Your Home Look Custom with Wall Molding

Neutral fall decor ideas for a cozy aesthetic, neutral autumn decor, neutral fall living room
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I recently added easy DIY picture frame molding to our living room and it made such a difference! This was my first time installing wall molding (also known as wainscoting or box trim) and if I can do it, you can too. Another option to consider is board and batten.

Wall molding is a great way to make a builder grade home look custom because it adds character and dimension to an otherwise basic room. And the materials are generally budget friendly!

3. Style Large Scale Florals and Branches

Organic Modern Home Tour Spring 2022 | spring entryway decor with faux cherry blossom stems
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One of the most important interior design basics I have learned is the importance of scale. Generally a few large decor items are better than lots of small ones. This applies to lamps, accessories, and wall decor, but for this post I wanted to mention florals and branches in particular.

You can create a designer look with statement branches like these cherry blossoms (I used five). Here are a few more favorites:

Check out my roundup of fall florals and stems for autumn.

4. Say Goodbye to Builder Grade Paint

how to make a builder grade home look custom, paint over flat builder grade paint | muted green wall paint, arched rattan mirror, vintage landscape art, leather tissue box cover, dried florals, modern bathroom faucet
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Builder grade homes tend to come with flat paint which hides wall imperfections, but is not always high quality. Our walls were quickly covered with marks! One winter weekend my mom came to stay and taught me the basics of painting walls. I haven’t stopped since and actually love painting walls and listening to audiobooks or podcasts.

Here are a few of my favorite painting tools:

Check out our powder room makeover or find all of our paint colors linked on my Shop Our Home page.

5. Make Your Home Look Custom with Furniture

Linen Accent Chair Roundup | Target slipcovered linen accent chairs, Dune chair dupe, white and beige accent chairs for modern organic living room
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Have you noticed that designer spaces tend to have a more eclectic look? Rather than purchasing a furniture set, try mixing and matching pieces that you love. In my post about where to save and splurge on home decor, I recommend investing in a sofa or sectional because this is a piece you will use so often. But when it comes to accent chairs, side tables, and coffee tables, there are so many budget friendly options to mix and match!

6. Swap Out Chandeliers and Flush Mounts

how to make a builder grade home look custom, wider view of dining room with white dining table, vintage rug, black dining chairs, gold chandelier, and faux floral arrangement
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When it comes to upgrading a builder grade home, some of the best items to swap out are light fixtures. I have already mentioned scale a few times with regards to area rugs and decor, and it is equally important when it comes to lighting! Builder grade light fixtures tend to be too small, poor quality, or just not stylish.

A few of my favorite chandeliers to instantly upgrade your home:

Find more lighting options in my affordable flush mount roundup and sconce roundup.

7. Decorate Your Kitchen for a Cozy Look

Best Fall Florals and Stems for Home Decor | fall faux florals, statement autumn leaf branches, plum fake cimicifuga ramosa leaves
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Like I mentioned earlier, when we built our home we were not in a place to invest in high quality countertops or appliances. While I would love to renovate our kitchen someday, there are so many things you can do to make a builder grade kitchen look custom and cozy on a budget. I added a kitchen cart and runner to fill out our space, and recently decorated above our kitchen cabinets.

Check out even more kitchen upgrade ideas!

8. Style Your Bed Like a Designer

Cozy Bedding Refresh with Serena and Lily | alpine flannel duvet cover, Topanga linen throw, brown tassel pillow cover, linen bedding, luxury bedding
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A quick way to make a builder grade home look custom and expensive is to style a layered bed. I like to use sheets, a quilt or blanket, a duvet (folded back), and a cozy throw tossed at the end. You can even use two duvet inserts to make your bed look extra fluffy. Here are some of my favorite bedding options:

More cozy bedding inspiration!

9. Paint Interior Doors to Make Your Home Look Custom

how to make a builder grade home look custom, paint interior doors, Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore, greige paint, greige door, painted interior door and trim
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In addition to painting your walls, you can also paint interior doors for a high end look. I decided to add warmth to our kitchen and living room by painting our doors Revere Pewter. In this case, I felt that it looked better to paint the door trim as well. Check out my post about how to paint interior doors for step by step directions!

10. Upgrade Window Treatments

Make a Builder Grade Home Look Custom | high end look on a budget, Loloi Wynter rug, beige pinch pleat drapes, wood frame accent chair, quartz white sitka sofa, linen slipcovered chairs
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Try swapping out the window treatments in your living room or bedroom for an easy upgrade. I love the combination of fabric or woven wood roman shades and pinch pleats. Our affordable Amazon curtains come in a variety of lengths, widths, and colors and are a fraction of the cost of designer drapes!

11. Embrace Your Unique Decor Style

how to make a builder grade home look custom | faux cherry blossom tree, larger rattan lamp, round wood coffee table, cement vase
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At the risk of sounding cheesy, I wanted to wrap up this post with a little encouragement to embrace your own personal style. There are many things you can do to make a builder grade home look custom, but perhaps the best thing of all is to decorate your home slowly and intentionally. Whether you live in a fixer upper or a cookie cutter new build, you can create a space that feels like home. It will take time and your personal taste may change along the way–mine certainly has! It is all part of the process.

I would love to hear how you have made your home feel more custom, cozy, and like YOU! Or, which of these ideas would you like to try? XO,

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  1. Hi Caitlin your home is beautiful. I love that you have a link for your blinds, but could you please tell me the color you choose? My husband and I bought a 1914 craftsman three year’s ago and we are slowly making it ours. I love all things natural fibers, earth tones and textures because it gives it that European country side timeless vibe. I feel like you achieved that with your color combination between your drapes and blinds.

    1. Lachelle, thank you so much! Our roman shades are the color “capri maple.”

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