Making Builder Grade Custom

Do you ever find yourself on Houzz and Pinterest loving all the home design and decor pins but thinking “that could never be my house” or “I don’t have that kind of budget”? I certaintly felt that way in our first home! This is not to say there was anything wrong with our house but I felt like aesthetically it didn’t match my decor or overall feel I was going for. So today I wanted to share with you some of my top tips for making a builder grade home feel more custom. Here was our home when we moved in:

Ha! Kidding that’s the after! This was actually our home when we moved in:

 Again, nothing wrong with it per say, but it just wasn’t super thrilling. For one let’s talk about bland. The house and trim color were barely a shade apart and that brick. I have nothing against brick, I live in an all brick house currently. The problem with that brick though was that it was probably the cheapest brick around and just felt and looked cheap. No variation to it whatsoever. Second, the landscaping. You can’t see it really well in this picture but it had red lava rock in the beds, making the red brick and rock stand out even more. 

I think one thing that holds us back is sometimes it’s overwhelming to figure out where to start. And by looking on Houzz or Pinterest you feel like it all has to be done at once. While that’s great if you can make that happen it’s not realistic for most people’s time and budget constraints. I always think a good place to start is to paint your space. Paint can change a space so quickly and is relatively inexpensive. 

Paint is primarily what spruced up the exterior. We got rid of the ugly red brick color by painting it white and painting the siding gray. Add in a fun front door, new exterior lighting, pots and change out the red lava rock with river rock and we had so much more curb appeal!

Of course I didn’t take many pictures when we moved in because 1. I didn’t have a blog then and 2. Instagram was so new! Above is a picture of our kitchen after I painted the walls and put new hardware on the cabinet doors. Like holy wow, honey oak. So, so much honey oak in that house. So if you can picture that honey oak on all doors, trim, cabinets then you get the gist. 

Here are a couple photos I found going way, way back on Instagram! Here’s the mantle in the great room that attached to the kitchen/dining. More honey oak! And you can see the original wall color that was everywhere in the house. Pretty much the same off white that’s on the exterior of the home.

After all walls were painted (Sherwin Williams Dovetail in main living spaces, Sherwin Williams Watery in kitchen/dining) something needed to be done about the flooring. There was an awful vinyl “tile” (think one sheet, not actual tiles) in the kitchen/dining and all bathrooms except the master. In all living spaces and bedrooms was a cheap low pile off white carpet. The builder was also so kind as to bring that into the master bath…who does that?? So we picked out a Pergo engineered hardwood at Home Depot that was installed in all main spaces, entry, and bathrooms. 

Now let’s get real ya’ll. This did not happen overnight. Just the mere fact of painting all the walls took a while especially because we had vaulted ceilings. We started in the kitchen/dining and did the great room and entry later. We didn’t paint the master until right before we were married and I painted my office after that. And then even later, the basement living room. The wood floors happened right before we were married and were a wedding gift from my parents. We also had the kitchen cabinets refinished the summer after we were married which you can read about here

Having our kitchen cabinets refinished completely changed the look and feel of the kitchen. Add in new hardware, new faucet and new stainless steel appliances over time (the dishwasher never got changed out!) and you have a completely new space. 

Had we stayed in the house I wanted to do new backsplash and countertops as these were laminate and the backsplash matched and was off white. However, all the other changes that happened in here it kind of made the countertops and backsplash disappear. If you can accomplish that in your space that’s awesome as countertops cost so much!


Another big project I did after wood floors went in was to paint all the trim on the main level white. If you’ve ever painted your own trim you know it’s no joke. That was a huge job, time wise, but made all the difference in my mind. And of course some cute decor can help as well. Everything in this picture decor wise is either from TJ Maxx or Target, because duh.


For one of the One Room Challenges I participated in I redid this bathroom that was our guest bath on the main level. You can read all about that here. I learned something amazing about myself during the time we lived here: I was willing to give anything a try if I wanted it bad enough. Take this bathroom for example, had I ever put up wallpaper before? Heck no. Did I teach myself how to anyways? Heck ya! I only did one wall as an accent and because I didn’t want to commit to doing the whole room. I repurposed leftover wallpaper from my parents house so I paid nothing! Another huge task I put my hand at is that concrete countertop. This was probably the most work I’ve ever put into a project but well worth the effort!

The master bedroom was the result of another One Room Challenge as well. Read more about that here. Walls are Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray.

Another top tip for making your builder grade home more custom is changing out the lighting! This made for a huge difference in all the spaces we did this in. Like the dining room, entry, master, and bathrooms. A couple of my favorite sources for inexpensive lighting are World Market, Wayfair, and IKEA. And lastly, furniture and decor that makes you happy and fits your aesthetic will make all the difference for your home. So making your home feel more custom is to simply make it unique to you. We aren’t bound by Pinterest or Houzz though it does give good ideas! I find more enjoyment in seeing an idea and figuring out how to accomplish it on my own and/or cheaper, like I did with our cable railing in our current house.

To recap my top tips to making your home more custom on a budget:

  1. Paint! Walls, trim, cabinets. Basically everything.
  2. Flooring! This might not be necessary or doable for your budget but think outside the box like painting over laminate in a space or pulling up carpet and staining concrete
  3. Lighting! Find unique, size appropriate fixtures for your space to literally brighten it up.
  4. Furniture & Home Decor! Find pieces you love that match your style. Check facebook trade sites if new isn’t in your budget.

Making our first home feel custom didn’t  happen overnight. It was an ongoing process from when we moved in to when we moved out. It took a lot of time, effort, planning and sometimes redoing because I made a decision to hastily. That’s the beauty of DIY, you can always DIY again, though it may irritate your husband 🙂 If you live in a home like I first did I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration! 

To see all the pictures of our previous home go here.

EverydayMrs Office: Hickory House

Happy hump day! Is anyone feeling the after effects of that monday/tuesday we had after Memorial Day weekend? I know I am! So I thought I would bring you a space in the hickory house that I have yet to show on the blog yet-the EverydayMrs office.

Since I work from home plus have this little blog of mine a home office is definitely essential. And for me having an office that inspires creativity and brings in a little natural light is important to me! 

I received this map of Omaha to place in my home and I thought what better spot than my new office in my new city! The map also comes in a blue and white color way and would be so fun in a man cave or little boys room.

I picked up a simple white frame from IKEA to frame it in and it works perfectly in my new office space.

The curtains are from Anthro last summer, but they have so many cute curtains this season as well.

Before we moved last summer when I was trying to sell things I came across someone selling this vintage rattan Peacock chair. This is seriously one of my must have pieces and when I found it for a steal of a price I had to have it. Though it took a little convincing of the EverydayMr since I was supposed to be selling things after all and not buying new!

I love how it looks in my new office. Brings the old with the new which is exactly the entire theme and feel of our 1930’s house.

Over here of course I have to have an area for all my Stella & Dot jewels. My office also doubles as a dressing area as my full length mirror is in here and I keep most of my accessories in here as well.

And what would an office space be without pictures of all the people (and pup) I love most!

Also, if you didn’t notice my office walls are a light, bright and fresh minty color. 

Do you have a home office or a space inside your home that inspires creativity? Thanks again to Jennifer at Modern Map Art for sending me this awesome Omaha map print!

DIY Cable Railing

Happy Friday ya’ll! Need a little house project inspiration? It looks like this weekend is the perfect “stay inside and complete a project” type of weekend! If you’ve been following along you might remember we remodeled our master bath and master bedroom. In case you’re not up to date this is a little smidge of what the space looked like when we moved in:

Definitely not horrible but not the best either. The bathroom was our main focus as it was teeny tiny but the bedroom needed a little help also. One of my biggest problems with the room was the railing. It completely protruded into the room and took up more space than necessary.

My immediate solution that I wanted was a cable railing. I had this priced out and for such a small area it was astronomical, so that was out, or so I thought. (Disclaimer-I’m not saying that the companies who sell this product are crap-I’ve seen them in person and they are awesome. It has metal posts, not wood and is definitely seamless.) I knew I really wanted this look and needed to figure out how to accomplish it for much less. I did lots of research, watched a couple youtube videos, and found the supplies we would need for pretty cheap. Now all that was left was to convince the EverydayMr to help!

Considering we had already ripped out the half wall/railing that was there we obviously had to do something. I showed him the numbers of us doing this versus someone else and it was pretty much a no brainer.

I bought the cable, fittings, and cable cutter from this website. For our posts we just used 4×4 poplar from Lowes that we cut to the height we wanted (42″). And I watched this video to get an idea of how to do it and what we needed.

We completed this project over a few evenings. The first evening took about 4-5 hours and we felt like we hadn’t completed anything. We learned while cutting the cable you couldn’t just cut it willy nilly or it wouldn’t fit into the fitting easily. And by not easily I mean we were considering calling it quits throwing the cable out and hiring someone. Not dramatic, at all.

We came back the next evening feeling like we knew a little bit more about what we were doing this time around. A couple hours later and we had all the cables where we wanted them and were feeling pretty proud of ourselves.

I still have left the top railing in it’s natural color because I can’t decide if I should stain or paint it to match. Also, I was completely done with the project and didn’t want to paint another thing ever again. Again, not dramatic, in the least. So I’ve left it and still haven’t decided. Overall though I am SO happy with the outcome especially considering the cost. My top advice if you are going to tackle your own cable railing is to measure, and then measure three more times before cutting wires. Another tip is to have a strong man to crimp the fitting onto the wire-this is tough!! Thanks EverydayMr for the help on that one especially. And last, if you have an idea go for it! In just cable materials it cost about $75 + the posts and railing at $40 overall it was less that $125. Way, way better deal than the $2,500 I was quoted for this little area (that didn’t include labor). There you have it, our latest #hickoryhouse project complete! As in one of my fave real interior design book, The Nesting Place, don’t be afraid to make holes in the walls and complete home projects for way less money than people say it can be if you put forth the effort!

Weekend Guide: Charleston

This past weekend I surprised the EverydayMr with a short weekend trip to Charleston for his 25th birthday! I’m here to give you all the deets on where to go and what to do in Charleston. We started out by flying to Jacksonville to meet up with my sister and brother in law and then drove to Charleston by way of Savannah.

Of course we had to stop at Paula Deen’s restaurant, Lady & Sons for lunch. The biscuits ya’ll…SO good. 

After that we worked off some of those scrumptious biscuits and fried chicken by walking around the city. 

We went down by the river and loved all the old buildings, old brick roads, and gorgeous big old trees! So much beauty in old things.

After we had walked off some of our lunch we were back on the road to Charleston. We stayed in an adorable Air Bnb close to King Street that was in perfect walking distance to many resturants and shops. 

We did a sort of impromptu progressive dinner to try to experience as much as we could. The rooftop at Stars was amazing. Great views with great looking people. I definitely recommend ordering the Flight 75!

After drinks we headed to Proof for a couple apps and mules and then ended at 492 which has a great patio right on King street. All of the food was so good we didn’t even have room for dessert, which is really saying something, I love dessert!

The next day we walked about 5 miles seeing all the old houses or rather mansions and ended up at the water for lunch.

There was so, so much to see I was completely in awe. This post is super picture heavy because I simply couldn’t get past all the beauty that was Charleston!

One of my fave houses-that ivy on the steps is incredible!

Also loved Rainbow Row-how about that purple house??

And then we found ourselves at the Charleston Distillery, so neat to see this process.

And we made our way back to Stars for dinner. Definitely one of the top restaurants I’ve been to, very good!

What’s a good vacation without brunch? We tried out Hominy Grill, super cute location with even yummier food.

This city was different than other U.S. cities I’ve been to and almost seemed a little more like Europe to me. There aren’t many skyscrapers in Charleston and it seems the highest points are all the steeples-and there are a lot of them!

We hit up another rooftop at Vendue, this one was closer to the water.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away!

What would be touring a new city without checking out a couple shops??

^^ That’s the EverydayMr if you couldn’t tell 🙂

And of course we had to add a little more history to our trip, it is Charleston after all. We took a ferry out to Fort Sumter which was a great experience.

Also got great views of the Ravenel bridge from the ferry!

Thankful for this bird that entered my shot at just the right moment!

Cool looking out through the Fort to see the entire city of Charleston!

Our last restaurant stop was at 5 Church, which you guessed it was in an old church. 

Honestly probably one of the coolest looking restaurants I’ve ever been to. The stained glass was incredible.

Loved all the light fixtures and live edge tables as well. Perfect mix of old, new and different textures.

The food, rose, and company was great! Isaac got a free dessert for his birthday, the bread pudding. We were both skeptical at first as we’re not big bread pudding fans. However, it was so SO good!! Definitely recommend this restaurant and save room for dessert. Overall, the trip was a success and the hubs was happy which is all that mattered! Charleston quickly became one of my favorite U.S. cities. I’m not one to usually want to visit the same place multiple times although I would love to go back here. We only touched a smidge of the city and history in a short weekend that this place had to offer. 

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