From Spotlight: Weekend Projects to Fight Off Cabin Fever

6 Easy Projects to Personalize a Cookie-Cutter Home

Value-boosting ideas for your home’s interior to make it really yours.

Colorfully painted front door
Image: Stephanie Wiley Photography

There's so much to love about a brand new home! No worries about an aging furnace or the source of a stain in the carpet.

Yet, it can also feel a little, well, uninspired. Like that neighborhood in "The Truman Show." Your home can feel like a carbon copy of everyone else's.

But just like Truman, you don't have to succumb to the sameness. It's quite easy to take something ordinary in your home and make it a little bit special, something unique. Some examples to get you started:

#1 Paint Your Ceiling Fan

Before
After

Image: Nicki Decker

Homeowner Nicki Decker and her husband banished a '90s-era builder-grade brass fan from their master bedroom by simply spray-painting the metal with an antique finish. Decker lightly dry-brushed two shades of mineral chalk furniture paint onto the medium-toned wood blades — delivering a whitewashed effect that enhances the room's rustic, beachy mood.

"I got to use my creativity to turn a dated eyesore into a beautiful and functional centerpiece that really brings the room together," she says.

#2 Frame a Window

White window bracket in a kitchen

A window over the kitchen sink is a common feature in homes new and old, but it doesn't have to be ordinary.

Seeking to "add some cottage-style detail to our very standard builders' kitchen," interior designer Amy Chalmers fastened vintage cast iron brackets to the cabinetry on either side of her window to create a framing effect.

The brackets support a stamped tin-covered plywood shelf, heightening the room's one-of-a-kind charm.

#3 Add Classic Molding

Classic door and window molding in a bedroom

In this new San Francisco home, Geoff Gibson, a partner with Winder Gibson Architects, installed molding inspired by the city's classic architecture.

"To keep it from being too busy or too boring," his firm carefully selected the 5-inch-wide window and door casings and 6.5-inch-high

 

#4 Paint the Door

Red door on sawhorses

When the blah, beige-gray paint on his front door began to show signs of wear, homeowner Paul McLandrich says, "I figured I may as well use it as an excuse to spice up the outside of the house a little bit."

Three coats of Behr's "Red Pepper" semi-gloss exterior paint, and no one has trouble spotting his house from his neighbor's.

#5 Upsize Your Cabinets

White cabinets conceal storage in a kitchen

Like many people, Detroit-based home stylist Sarah Macklem had dreams of replacing the basic birch cabinetry in her kitchen with tall, custom creations, but had a budget that required more modest measures. To achieve the look, she capped her existing wall cabinets with 1-by-4-inch boards and thick, decorative crown molding.

"Adding height to the top made my short cabinets look taller and more like expensive, custom cabinetry," says Macklem. "It was a small detail that made a huge difference in the feel of my kitchen."

#6 Paint the Floor

Blue and white checkerboard painted kitchen floor

When you're seeking to create a big personality in a space, don't stop until it's got the right look from head to toe — including under your toes.

This adorable retro kitchen still had floors just like everyone else's. Thankfully, Dallas-based interior designer Janet Gridley righted the wrong. She lightly sanded and primed the laminate floor, then applied white porch paint and in striped layers to create a whimsical, checkerboard pattern.

The peacock blue is unexpected, Gridley says, while the overall design does something that average laminate flooring likely never would: "It makes everyone smile," she says.

Related: Affordable DIY Ideas for Your Floors

Author photo of Amy Howell Hirt

Amy Howell Hirt

Amy Howell Hirt has written about home design for 13 years. Her work has been published by outlets including "The Home Depot," "USA Today," and Yahoo! Homes. She previously served as home and garden writer and columnist for "The Cincinnati Enquirer."