Enough with the Cookie Cutter Homes

Hello dear friends! I am sharing a bit of a recent rant with you. I have visited a few different homes this past week for design consults (side note: if you are interested in our design consult option you can learn more HERE) and they have all been in spec houses. Brand new homes that are beautiful but lack so much character. You get to choose between three options….Barbara from three doors down may have the exact same floor plan, wall color, kitchen…everything.


These particular clients are yearning for a home that they feel joy in when they enter. One client in particular told me she loved her family home and the feeling you had returning to it even after all of these years…she now has been living in her new home for three years and feels nothing as she enters the door.


This is so sad to me. Home is suppose to be the place that you reprieve from the craziness of every day life. It should give you a big hug as you enter and unfortunately the economics of building outweigh the custom built homes these days. I get it…everything is so expensive! So how can we make cookie cutter homes feel like a custom home with a soul? This is what we are discussing today!


7 Ways to Bring More Character to a Home


Adding Architectural Interest


Amber Lewis Vintage Pieces
Photo Source: Amber Lewis


I think the biggest thing I am looking at with these houses is adding some architectural interest. Everything is so white and gray in these homes. So if we could add in some beams on the ceiling or tongue and groove, this would really add some charm.

If the budget allows, adding different millwork can also enhance the character. I was chatting with a contractor the other day on a project and I wanted to do some decorative millwork and he said, “we haven’t done that for years so I am not sure where to even source that anymore.”  This is really sad to me. I feel like this is why old homes speak to me…the millwork you will find in these homes is just beautiful! So if you can, change out the 3″ baseboard for a more dramatic baseboard.


Getting rid of the painter grade gray


elements of a casual, cool sitting room studio mcgee


We went through a period where painting all the walls gray was the thing to do. I am guilty…I painted a couple rooms in our home Serious Gray when we built ten years ago. But what I have learned over time, color and tones can really set the mood for the space. Gray can fall flat and feel cold. So…in open areas…I would opt for warmer tones of white. In more dedicated areas, I wouldn’t be afraid to add some color or wallpaper! You will be amazed by how this makes you feel.


Add Window Treatments


Two Page Curtains


Adding in window treatments doesn’t need to be a huge cost. There are a lot of great options out there including one of my favorites, Two Page Curtains. Window treatments can add softness to the space and interest.


Replace the Fireplace


Fireplace Update


What I often see in these homes are fireplaces that are just weird. If able, replace the mantle and surround with a fun tile or stone. This will be a big game changer I promise!


Add Vintage Pieces


Classic interior with wooden furniture and checkered floor.
Photo Source- Blanc Marine Living


One of my favorite ways to infuse some soul into a home is including vintage pieces. Bringing a fun cabinet or recovered vintage chair…this will bring visual interest into the space. If you aren’t sure where to shop for these pieces…check out my blog post HERE to find where I like to find vintage pieces.


Change Out Light Fixtures



AH…this is such a BIG ONE! I think lighting is under-rated. Changing out light fixtures can really make a big difference. Find ones that are beautiful and interesting…not the contractor grade gross ones.


Add in Built-Ins


Office Built-Ins
Photo Source: Studio McGee


This is usually an investment…but I love cabinetry. Adding in built-ins for storage and appeal is always one of my favorites. And don’t be afraid to do some color in places like offices, pantries, and laundry rooms! You won’t regret it.


Bonus- Change out the Hardware


Kitchen Hardware


Replacing the cheap hardware with quality hardware. There is something about utilizing real quality materials that bring life to a space. Utilizing real brass and bronze hardware will add beauty but also stand the test of time. Making these small changes will also not break the bank. Some great places to shop for hardware are Rejuvenation, Signature Hardware, and Top Knobs.


If you have a cookie cutter home and you need some help making it more of a home, reach out to us! We would lvoe to help!

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