I have realized that there are a lot of people who want the look of a custom home, but do not have the time or budget. I get it. We were the same way. It felt impossible to have our “dream” home, I had champagne dreams on a beer budget. Scratch that, we were a young family, Dale was still growing in his career and we just became home owners. I needed someone to “donate” the beer to me, that was how tiny our home decorating budget was. Over the next few weeks I am going to share my simple steps to make a builders grade home feel custom. Making it possible for anyone to have that custom home. It does not involve power tools or any kind of DIY know how.
I am not sure if many of you have heard of the story of how we purchased our home. We did not get to pick out our home, we purchased it from Dale’s parents. They had purchased it about 10 years earlier when it was brand new eventually they were looking to down size; we were finally ready to purchase a home. Perfect timing for all involved. It was a happy occurrence for us to get a home that was only owned by one previous owner (who we knew, he raise a great Man). There was no secrets hidden or unknowns. In fact Dale did most of the maintenance on the house for his parents. It was a win/win situation. Here is what the house looked like.
With that being said, we never got to pick our home. Our house is great, don’t get me wrong. But, if Dale and I had picked out our first home I think we would have gone for an older home with more of a unique look to it. Our home is in a great community, great location, wonderful neighbors. All of the home’s look similar and the uniqueness of them is the shade of the siding and window shutters. We would have chosen something a little more different, a good, solid, slightly boring builders grade home is what we got.
Because of that, when we purchased our home and moved everything in I began wanting to put my own stamp on the house. I wanted to create the character and charm we dreamed of for our first home. One of the easiest ideas I came up with was to change out the ceiling lights. Most had the good ‘ole golden boob lighting like the picture below. Because I changed the lights over time I never thought to take a solid before picture of any lights. We all know the light. They are not particularly bad, or particularly good either.
I started with the entryway light. I found it on craigslist, used and gold. I brought it home, took off some extra chains that were dangling from it and spray painted it black. I adore that hanging light in our vaulted entry and living room. It is was what started my quest to replace all of the ceiling lights.
They make such a difference and change the room to a custom look immediately. I will also mention that we changed out every door knob and hinges from gold to a oil rubbed bronze handle in the house. They have a black appearance, so spray painting the ceiling lights black creates the illusion of matching.
The next ceiling lights to go was the two hallway lights. Our hallway has gone through a huge transformation over the years. We went from carpet to wood floors. Added the wainscoting and painted the walls a dark gray. We also made a barn door and family command center. The lights needed to be showstoppers too.
I purchased the ceiling lights from an online for sale community I am a part of. These were gold and someones outdoor lights previously. Dale thought I was crazy and said they looked too antique for our home. I told him to “shut it, I got this.” After we spray painted them black and put in the pretty candelabra lights they are gorgeous. In the end, I was right! If you come away with anything from this…. know that I was right. That is what is important!
I hate ceiling fans. Not the function of them, I love what they do. Just the look of them, I always dream of big pendant lights hanging down. Well, I dream of pendant lights in general. Just where my mind goes at night. We have a fan in our kitchen that I would love to take down, but we use it all the time in summer and cooking so it is not going anywhere. Function beats pretty in this house, always.
I fixed the issue a little by painting the fan blades white. It helped them blend in a little more. It did not give me the effect I was hoping for but did make me feel better about the ceiling fan.
I found a really great light at Goodwill that we hung in the study. Pro tip, when you are at any thrift stores, look in the boxes. This light was marked at the original store for over $100, I paid $16 for it! There was a little bent piece of the center that we were able to fix with some pliers and some muscles pulling it straight.
People walked right by this treasure and never saw what was inside. When I saw the light in there, I held onto that thing like it was my 4th child. I had one lady who got big eyes when I pulled the light out of the box, she was ready to cut me for it because she had walked right by the box before me and passed it by. That is when you know you have hit thrift store gold, when the other shoppers are envious of you and trying to figure out a way to attack you and run away with your finds. Oh yeah, I was winning that day!
The first light that I purchased new and was more than a few dollars is the dining room ceiling light. That light is from Parrot Uncle. I call this my “adult” phase. I have graduated to real lights, not used or thrown out ones. Look at me now, pretty soon I will be using actual Kleenex when I have a cold instead of toilet paper. I guess we all have to grow up some time.
The most recent ceiling light addition is in Caleb & Gavin’s bedroom which I redid as part of the One room challenge. We had to remove their ceiling fan because their built in bunk beds (which I have still not shared the tutorial on, eek, sorry about that!) came out too far for the fan to work.
I needed to center the light differently. I also knew I was going to put a play table in the center of the bedroom and thought two pendant lights would work great for that. See, I am always dreaming of pendant lights.
I purchased them from IKEA, it was love at first sight. I had to get creative with the way the lights would mount to the ceiling. This is another thing that I realized until just now that I have not shared before. When I did the One room challenge there was so much content to share. Then the holidays happened, my kids got sick, my dog ate my homework…. you get it. I am going to fix this and finally get the rest of the tutorials done and shared for you all.
The last ceiling lights in our home to get switched out is the fan in Nora’s bedroom and the light in the laundry room. I think we might leave the ceiling fan in Nora’s bedroom, it is nice to have. The light in the laundry room will need to be flush mount. With it being a small space, right off of the garage we bring a lot of things through there. This is a full time DIY house, I cannot count the number of times large pieces of wood have been carried through there. I do not need to start stressing about hitting a pendant light hanging down. Our hallway lights are also flush mount so that whole area is a 2×4 carrying safe zone.
I also want to add a big hanging light in the center of the living room right where the hanging ceiling wreath is hing during Christmas time. This would require us to get the light installed professionally because there is no outlet or switch set up there. We have a big vaulted living room and it is begging for a big and chunky hanging light fixture.
Changing out the builders grade ceiling lights can feel daunting and expensive. Taking your time, going room by room and looking at creative options are great ways to keep it low cost. Not going to standard stores, using resale, and thrift stores are great. If you still do not find what you are looking for then you can start shopping in more “standard” stores. Not that there is anything wrong with going to big box stores, the only issue is there are less options and you can still end up spending more money than you are hoping.
With the simple steps to make a builders grade home feel custom, changing out the ceiling lights is the first one I did in our home. It opened my eyes to what can be done with discount pieces and some spray paint. I also saw that I could create my dream home and add the character to it that I was yearning for. Changing out the ceiling lights is a simple solution to update a home and bring it from builder grade to custom.
Next week I will be delving into another simple step I did to update my home. I will also be sharing the process of changing the boys ceiling light. It involved wood, a trip to IKEA two hours away with three kids, purchasing way more than just the planned lights, and just a few melt downs. No one got electrocuted in the ceiling light changing and their was no blood. That is a good day around here for sure! I will be jumping back into the remaining one room challenge projects and sharing them all with you in the coming weeks.
What is one of your favorite ways to update a home? Do you have something that are a must have when it comes to a home you move into?