Monday, April 26, 2010

Easy, Affordable Ways to Add Character to a Newly-Built Home


(Courtney's Kitchen)


I tooootally hear what you're saying Courtney!

Kevin and I lived in a brand new house a few years back, and I, too, was faced with the dilemma of finding ways to justify replacing the "new stuff" the builder picked out, with things that suited our personal style.

My opinion is this.

Home is where YOUR heart is.
So no matter if you plan on living in your house for 6 months, or 60 years-
creating inspired surroundings that make your heart sing is so important.

If that means removing a couple of new cabinet doors so that you can see your pretty dishes- so be it!

If that means replacing some light fixtures with a few that make you smile every time you see them- so be it!

If that means painting unpainted wood- so be it!

Besides, 9 times out of 10, whatever it is you think needs a facelift (i.e. your cabinets, your doors, your light fixtures), chances are, future buyers will probably think so too.

Take our kitchen for example...


Even though everything was brand new when we moved in- drywall, tile, appliances, countertops, cabinets, there's a reason this house sat on the market for nearly a year. It wasn't "homey", and everyone who looked at it could feel it.

Now I'm not saying that what we did to our kitchen is for everyone- but we made it comfortable for us, and when and if we decide to sell our house, I'm hoping that prospective buyers will, in the very least, feel a little more at home when they tour the place this time around.


So, Courtney, if you and your husband are experiencing what I call "Model Home Syndrome", I bet whatever you do to cozy the place up will not only improve your quality of life, but will also make your home more appealing to future buyers, and maybe even up your resale value too!


Here are some easy, low dough ideas that can instantly kick up the charm factor...


Don't feel too bad about replacing light fixtures- especially if they're the inexpensive ones that builders usually put in to save themselves some money.

We had several of these in our last house...


We've got a bunch of them here at TLC too.
And while there's really nothing wrong with this type of fixture, its just not exactly my style.

This particular type of fixture typically costs under twenty bucks brand new, so I don't feel guilty replacing them as our budget allows.
Especially since I know that "Habitat For Humanity" can re-use them.

If you still can't bring yourself to buy new lights to replace your existing ones with- maybe you can change the look of them with a little oil-rubbed bronzed spray paint...


Sometimes a quick facelift can make a world of difference!



It may take a few years to get them all switched out- but if they're going to bug you every time you look at them, I'd say it's worth the extra effort to switch them all out, or repaint them the color of your choice.


Also, a lot of times builders will install fairly inexpensive, hollow-core doors.
For example, the door pictured above costs just $19.00 at Home Depot.

We swapped out this brand new "builder" door...


With this old, solid wood one we had lying around the house...


We donated the original one to Habitat For Humanity.
That's some guilt-free renovating, huh?



Removing the carpet from your stairs is another inexpensive project that can give your staircase a totally different look. Rhoda, from Southern Hospitality, re-did her steps to better suit her style, and they turned out great!



Click here to read her tutorial.



The subject of whether or not someone should paint their kitchen cabinets comes up a lot in my inbox.

I have found that most wives want to paint them, and most husbands do not.

I asked my own husband to weigh in on this matter, and this is what he had to say:

"Husbands need to listen to their wives."

Okay, fine. I made that part up. I didn't really just ask him to weigh in on the matter.


But I have asked him in the past, and his answer is always the same:

"I think most guys are just afraid to mess with something new. That, and they probably just can't see what their wife is seeing- even if she shows him a picture of what it could look like. I think if she wants painted cabinets bad enough to save up for a professional painter, he should allow her to have them professionally sprayed. That way everyone is happy."


I love that man.

If having them professionally sprayed is out of the question- you can also change the look of basic or stock kitchen cabinets by simply removing some of the doors...


Open shelves not only keep items within easy reach, but they also make decorative statements out of cookbooks and appliances.

Not into the look of open cabinetry? How about adding some glass to some of your existing doors. My friend Susie Harris did it all by herself, and they turned out great!



Click here to read her tutorial.

Lauren, from Pure Style Home, removed her upper cabinets altogether...



It was a daring design move (love those!), but boy did she follow her heart and create an amazing kitchen, eh?

And if Lauren ever decides to sell her house, I'm sure whoever buys it will want it because of the fun, fresh look she created.

Moving out can be such an emotional experience, so it always helps to know the people moving in are head over heels in love with your house, and will appreciate it like you did.



Switching out your door and drawer pulls is one of the quickest and easiest ways to personalize your cabinets. For a classic look, use period-style hardware. To save money, I buy all my handles, knobs, and latches on eBay.


The bin pulls pictured above feel both old and new, and marry vintage style with modern efficiency.
Can't beat that!



Chris, from Just Beachy, has done lots of things to add character to her new home.

One of which is the addition of lots of molding...



She also added some in her dining room...


And in her bedroom too!


And remember, you don't always have to paint your molding white.

It could be green...


It could be blue...


It can even be black!


Adding molding will really add a lot of architectural charm and texture to all those "seas of drywall" that can be found in so many new homes.



Wallpaper is another way to add a bit of your own personality into your new home.

Sherwin Williams has lots of sample books you can look through- and as long as your not doing more than one room at a time, it's a pretty affordable way to change the look of any given space.

Lauren, whose kitchen I featured above, covered her breakfast nook with a black and white patterned wallpaper...


Isn't it fantastic!?


Here's another perfectly papered place I found online...


Makes me happy just lookin' at it!


Melissa, from 320 Sycamore, used beadboard wallpaper on the door fronts in her laundry room...



The great thing about beadboard wallpaper is that it's embossed to feel just like real wood beadboard, so once it's painted, no one will ever know it's not the real thing!


"Moonkat99" from Gardenweb used beadboard wallpaper on her ceiling...



(FYI- You can usually find beadboard wallpaper at any home improvement store, but you can also get it here.)



Another great way to personalize your space is through vinyl "wall words".
They're inexpensive, and they're easy to remove if you ever want to change things up.

One of our Sponsors, Leen the Graphics Queen, can custom make you any type of decal your heart desires.

Whether it's lyrics to one of your favorite tunes...



Or just something that makes your heart go pitter patter everytime you're in the room...


And don't forget- vinyl will cling to mirrored surfaces too!



I hope there's an idea or two here that you can use Courtney!

If you decide to make any changes to your new home, we'd love to see photos of what you do.

Happy Decorating!

This post brought to you by...



Check out my e-book!


Sonnie Sue said...

Thanks for the great ideas! What an inspiration! I love it all!

Juli said...

so I've decided to unveil myself after being a lurker for so long :) I just have to say thank you Layla for taking the time to respond to this person with such a beautiful and detailed post! I too am a wanna be designer with big dreams and limited confidence. Just reading this post really made me evaluate why I clip and save and file all those inspirational spaces (which include many of yours btw!) only to have them collect dust in my idea files... I think you've just given me the courage to take on some of those projects I previously wrote off :) Thanks again Layla, your work is amazing!

Katie said...

Thats a lot of great ideas in one post. I love them all. And remember, its not just what you do to the house itself, it's the things you fill your home with. Things that have been collected over time that all, individually bring back memories. Photos of family and friends either hung on the walls or frames on the sideboard, furniture collected over time, momentos, and quirky finds. And most importantly its the people in the home and the memories you make there.

It wont happen overnight, but it will happen.

Gail said...

This post makes me so happy and yet sad at the same time...we live in a rental and I can't wait to own a home we'll be able to "mess" with. Maybe in a year or two we'll get there. Crossed fingers.

Thanks for all the great ideas in the can always dream! :)

-Gail @ thenurturednest

Danae said...

One of your best posts yet!! It breaks it down for all of the rest of us (like me) who dream of a house & style like yours! THANK YOU for the inspiration! Oh, and I am going to show your husband's comment to my husband- nothing like a little peer pressure to get a project done :)

Jennifer said...

go Courtney! start with something small to gain some confidence and then GO TO TOWN!

great advice, Layla!

TSL said...

Gorgious! What fab ideas and the before and after images were fantastic.

Tracey said...

Layla-You are the best! "They need to give you a tv show girl! I love all of your ideas and generosity with them! Oh if we could only do a tour of blog homes...wouldn't that be fun! Have a great day!

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

Paint the cabinets, Courtney. You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

As for that light fixture ... we call those boob lights.

courtney said...

i've never commented on your blog but feel compelled {in a good way} after this post. my husband and i bought a new home a couple of years ago. while beautiful, and more than i ever imagined we could afford, we are slowly putting our spin on the lovely choices the builder made. thanks for inspiring us and making us feel like we have a official "permission slip" to replace/redo new homes!

mustlovedogs said...

This post is great! There are so many inspiring photos of beautiful rooms and a ton of ideas for transforming a space & making it your own. I loved the "Husbands should listen to their wives" quote & was thinking "I love Kevin!" when I read that you made it up :)

Bead board wall paper?! How is it possible that I've never heard of it?

carolyn said...

Wow, thank you for all these amazing ideas. Every single one of those pictures is an inspiration (okay, maybe not some of the before photos!). I will definitely be trying out some of these ideas in my own home. I also now have a whole pile of new blogs to go check out.

TheVirginiaHouse said...

Love this post! Not only is it full of great tips, but some really inspiring and beautiful pictures as well. Thanks Layla!!

Gretchen said...

Thanks so much for this post! The before and after pics really help those of us with the same problem visualize how we can add some personality to our rooms!

I absolutely LOVE seeing pictures of your kitchen because they amaze me every time! And the cabinets with the glass in them? Gorgeous. Could you do a post just on redoing your cabinets with glass or paintable wallpaper? And the bead board wallpaper on the ceiling is a brilliant idea, though I don't know if I'll be able to sell my husband on it!

Debby said...

Thank you for such an informative post. It was perfect timing for me. We had our house listed for 6 months. After living in the same house for 24 years, we had to do get rid of clutter and undecorate. We have been trying to decide whether or not to relist I feel like I have been in limbo. We finally decided this week-end not to sell our home at this time. I can't wait to redecorate. When we bought our home, I liked the way it was decorated. I know all the realtors say to not personalize your home but I don't agree. Thanks for all your good ideas.

suzanne said...

Great ideas! I live in a new construction home and have been working hard to make it feel like home. It's important that your house be a reflection of your self and family, not look like an anonymous catalog room. Love your blog!

Amy R. said...

Wow! Great post with lots of ideas! I just love that green molding and the kitchen with the upper cabinets removed. I am inspired to change out my doors too if hubby is willing to help. That is the hard part!

Kerri - Driftwood Interiors said...

What a great post Layla,
chock-a-block full of great advice. My husband is away for the rest of the week, and while he's gone I'm going to paint all of my timber kitchen cabinets! Hopefully I'm faced with a happy husband and not a divorce notice when he gets back! He has absolutely no idea, so it should be interesting. Thanks as usual for the fab post, you're a huge inspiration to this 'decorator from down under'! K xx

Reese said...

Holy cow girl! This has to be one of my favorites posts ever!! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to Courtney's letter. You've definitely helped out more people than just her :)

Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife said...

These are some fabulous tips! Especially for anyone worried about resale! = )

It definitely inspired me - even though our home is almost 160 years old!!

Lotusphx said...

I am in full agreement with what looks like everyone who posted above me! Those were wonderful questions with great answers! I am a designer and I find it so challenging to design for my own home... but all the suggestions you gave were really managable and could be done in stages. I agree that living in a space that you enjoy is most important!!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post and drooled all over the photos. Great ideas!! Thanks

Sarah B said...

Great tips! I love Laurens kitchen after the cupboard removal. Very daring but brilliant results!!

Coastal California said...

wow. That was fantastic! So detailed, so inspired...and kinda makes me rethink my ultra dislike of new homes. I like the efficiency factor but not the bullnose, white appliance, oak cabinet, homedepot-ness of them. Your totallllllly right, it can be changed. And for Courtney- JUST DO IT! Just because they're new doesn't mean their you.....

I especially love the ideas that you shared with us about REMOVING cabients. Liberating! Not that I can do that (our cottage is 1300 sq feet) and old (aka charming no storage). But I love the thought of peeking at treasures I love.

And for the sentiment shared by what hubbys say: Here's my hubby's answer "Happy wife, happy life" :) Good man.

Also, if I had to pick one thing I love to add to my counters to change it & make it my own, it'd be cake stands. I love them! I use them for fruit, for displays, a small picture frame & candle, something just makes it special.

thanks again for the inspiration! such fun!!

Ada in Coastal Cali

Sara said...

Love this post! Thank you for all of the ideas! Pictures always help!

ggfblog said...

Best post ever!! This is so helpful for those of us who sometimes get intimidated by "messing up" our house... but every little change inspires me to do more because I ove it. Thanks for all the great advice and inspiration, as always!!!

Ann said...

What a great decorating lesson! I feel I should owe you something, but I will just say that I love visiting you and love your fresh ideas.

Kristine at The Painted Hive said...

Wow, what an extensive post! Loved every bit of it....especially the wallpaper section. I papered a wall in my entry and it really added a personal touch. You can see it on my blog if you have time.

Becky said...

Fabulous! We also live in a newish builder-grade home and these are such great ideas! Thanks for the inspiration!

Kathy said...

That is my favorite range hood to date, love it. Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Great Great post!!!!

Ashley said...

These are amazing ideas! I've saved the link to this post for when I get my future house. :)

tiffanie said...

oh man, courtney - where did you get that font!? it's sooooo cool!

liz @ bon temps beignet said...

Ahh, the hardest part...convincing the husband. Why is that always so difficult? And what a coincidence that Susie had just posted about bead board wall paper on her ceiling!

<3 Liz @ BTB

Anonymous said...

Funny how we are so afraid to try something new in fear that we will mess up. I am so glad that when I face those fears I think of you and your beautiful home. You make me brave....((Hugs)) Susie

Tulip and Turnip said...

Oh my goodness, some of those photos literally took my breath away. Beautiful photos, and great information. I'll be bookmarking this post and studying it often! :)

Your blog is incredible, Layla! You are so talented!

Lettered Cottage said...

Hey Tiffanie!

I actually designed that letter in Photoshop, based on an email Courtney sent me. :-)
I got the font from you should check out their site!


Kim said...

It's almost like you were talking about MY HOUSE!! We, too, moved into a brand new house 2 years ago, and have those same light fixtures. I've thought about painting the cabinets & doors and changing out fixtures, but always thought it would be too much work. I never realized how inexpensive it would be to just buy a new door in the color I wanted! Thanks so much for the insight and inspiration. Hopefully my house will look as wonderful as your does someday!!

Anonymous said...

one of your best posts yet, layla! loved everything.

Ashley Turnbull said...

Layla! What an informative blog post! We are looking at a "90's house," and this post was great inspiration!!! I would love to know just how you search ebay for these handles, pulls, and fixtures. How in the world do you know what a good deal is and are there reputable dealers out there you can recommend?

This was GREAT and so inspiring!!!

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

beautiful ideas, beautiful images, and superb advice, layla!

Anonymous said...

hey layla! i tell ya! i could of written that letter! just today (well, everyday) i was talking to my sweet hubby about not feeling i can do anything in our "new" house! it is bugging me badly! i dont know how many times i need to hear that it will be ok! we are going to sell one day and i cant help but worry about the new owner! my hubby will do whatever i want! so, why am i still worried about the next owner and not my family? hmmmm!!! sorry! i just had to let that all out! thanks!

WhisperWood Cottage said...

Love this post, Layla! You've put together lots of great examples that demonstrate your point. It's great to see so many wonderful ideas in one place.


Jill said...

This post was so inspiring! I love all the ideas and links. I just bought my first little home last summer and it wasn't my style at all-- crazy colors and yucky light fixtures. I painted the entire house, and changed all the light fixtures (old ones went to Habitat for Humanity). What a difference it made! My house now feels like home.
Now I just wish that I had taken some "before" photos!

Vanessa@decor happy said...

What an informative post with examples to illustrate your point. And yes Courtney, painting out your cabinetry (adding a backsplash, glass doors too)will totally transform your kitchen. I help a lot of homeowners stage their house to sell which sometimes includes painting out the cabinetry and they always say "why didn't I do that sooner?"

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

I got so many good ideas!! Thank you!

Cindy said...

this is that exact brass light fixture. we painted it black and turned the arms up and changed the glass shades. completely changed the look of the fixture.

that is always an option too!!!


vintage tickled pink said...

i thought this was beautiful one room was better than the next. loved it all. thanks. diane

Jenny said...

Wow! I am drooling. This is my first visit to your site, and I'm amazed! I love molding. I'm always attracted to magazine ads for things like windows and cabinetry. My house has some great windows, but they're framed with drywall. I'm wondering how expensive it was to replace/add all that molding in Chris's house. :)

Digella said...

That is fantastic! This would be one of, if not the best posts I have EVER read in blog land. Well done!



What an amazing post this was, Layla. So detailed and fun and inspirational. It actually made me sad, that my house needs nothing done to it right now. Thanks for all the time you put into this great great post.

Kristy said...

You just keep inspiring me, and reminding me to make my own fit me. And not to be afraid to try something.

Thanks. :-)

Tina said...

wow! what a jam-packed post with something for nearly everyone!

Courtney Walsh said...

Wow am I glad I hit "send"! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Layla!! All of your suggestions are incredible. I am going to dissect them one at a time! :)

You have no idea how this helped!!

Mary Lou said...

We were a military family for 29 yrs and moved 30 times. the first thing I did was take off some cabinet doors and make a place for cookbooks, pottery, etc. That one little thing made it mine.
Your white kitchen makeover is amazing. the before looks like my daughter's now. I will show her the after.

Amy said...

Best. Post. Ever.
I have been so depressed by subdivision homes, this has provided a lot of inspiration!

Karla@TheClassyWoman said...

That was a wonderful post Layla! The beadboard wallpaper is such a great idea, especially over cabinets with holes that are hard to cover. I love that idea!

Your kitchen is just stunning. I've seen it before but when you showed the before, I was amazed at all the work and creativity that went into it. I look forward to more posts like this in future. :)

Kristen said...

Love this post. So many great ideas. We are also in a new construction house and it can seem a little overwhelming to know where to start in making it your own. Thanks for the inspiration!

Charity Nee said...

Hey! That is very, very cool. :-)
I noticed that a lot of your images are gone... it just says 'Photobucket'. Any idea what happened?
Chare said...

I love the 'after' stairs.

Travis said...

I'm another sneaky lurker that hasn't commented prior to this.


The 'nervous decorator' in me (not to mention my practically naked apartment) thanks you for so many great ideas, presented in such a great format.

chris said...

Such a great post Layla! It was a lot of fun to read. I too bought a brand new house and was not able to choose the details. Way too much brass and golden oak cabinetry. Oh and the white walls and trim? Yikes. I however do not fear color and love love love to paint. It's a little therapeutic for me. First thing I did was paint the kitchen Arabian Red and the living room Straw. My kids chose their own, gray for one and an olive green for the other.. Well after 4 years it is time to paint. This time I am doing black kitchen cabinets with a cream and white stripe wall. Also lightening up the golden tones in the living room. Don't even get me started on the master and the bathrooms. I just wish for a budget to fit my needs(WANTS).

Thanks again for the great post, I hope you do more answering of letters.

Kacey said...

Thanks for the inspiration! Lots of good ideas.

Linda @ Painted Whyte said...

Wow what great inspiration! I love the change you made in your kitchen - doesnt even look like the same room AT ALL - love it!!!

Woven and Spun said...

Layla, what a fantastic post. My 9yr old daughter and I loved looking through it and she's nattering in my ear right now with ideas for her room!

Little Miss Martha said...

Layla --

I wish I had the guts to do what you do! I also wish I had the outlets to shop at like antique marts! I love all the ideas that you posted here...I may snag some of them myself! Now, if I could just get my fiance on board with painting the cabinets.

Unfortunately with urban sprawl, I think there are probably a lot of people in this situation. Great post! I look foward to your posts everyday! :)

Polly said...

Great post! We are doing this EXACT same thing to our house--it was built in the early 90s (by my mom) but it needed character--OUR character--after we moved in. Last Labor Day weekend I painted our honey oak cabinets and haven't looked back. They are *amazing!* (Also: ebay for hardware!) Completely transformed the main room!! My husband thought they'd be nice but he was astonished.

I think the key is changing the "bones" of the house before doing much decorating. Other things we're doing are renovating the bathrooms (including beadboard wallpaper in our bathroom!), replacing door hardware (as Layla said!), planking the kitchen ceiling, coffering the dining area ceiling, ripping up cream carpet and installing inexpensive wide planked pine flooring (soft, so it earns a pretty patina), installing new light fixtures, replacing the front door w/ sometime that has more character, etc. All of this on a we do it s.l.o.w.l.y.
Once all that is done I will do a bit more redecorating also.

But one thing I had NOT considered was replacing the doors (exactly what you have, Layla--ugh!) with older doors. Brilliant!!

I think it is so important to do these things to the bones of the house before doing much in the way of spending money on furnishings and fabrics. It makes all the difference!

Cara said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of these great ideas! Like Courtney, I live in a 3 year old builder basic home in the 'burbs, and I'm dreaming of ways to make it more my own. When we picked out our kitchen finishes, we upgraded to dark cherry cabinets (I wanted white, the husband pushed for dark) and got black granite countertops. I'm still wishing I had white cabinets, and now my husband admits that perhaps the kitchen is a little too dark. But we both feel guilty doing anything to these perfectly fine cabinets that we paid extra for in the first place!

I'd really love to implement every single suggestion you mentioned. Time to stop looking at all your beautiful inspiration photos and get busy! :)

Chris Kauffman said...

Let courtney know I painted our brand new oak cabinets the day we took possession of our brand new house , its OK , it can be done and should be done , just don't ask family and friends what they think , chances are they are chickens or are nay sayers , its easier to fear and leave things the way they are but its not pretty...

Trish @TheOldPostRoad said...

GREAT post, Layla!

jeanne@juNxtaposition said...

love love love everything you post..and completely agree with this one..all of it !! just have to tell you my opinion of the lights...these lights look like giant boobs...that little thing in the center..looks like may think i'm crazy, but once you look at them that will always see a boob..(and you WILL replace them all with no hesitation !!)
keep up the great work..

Adam and Natalie said...

Excellent post! Thanks for all your hard work.

Lynda @ Happenstance Home said...

Fantastic post. Love all the idea's!

Shar said...

I can't believe that you are so generous to share all of these wonderful ideas with us. Thank you so much. I painted the cabinets in my beach house. They were builder stock cabs, over 20 years old. Oaky stained, really ugly. I simply could not afford to replace them. I used a beachy, aqua green color and it is simply amazing how great they look now. Paint rules!

kuestermom said...

you are just full of so many great ideas! thanks for sharing! i am still working on my dining room that you helped me put together-i can't wait until it's done. one step at a time (one discussion at a time with my husband about what needs to be done next, ha!)

Unknown said...

Hi Layla. I found you about a month ago, and I think I've gone back and read your entire collection of posts! You and Kevin are so inspiring, on so many levels. My dream as a teenager was to be a designer. Somewhere along the way I let that dream slip away. As a homeschooling mom, my life is crazy busy, and with only one income (our choice - not complaining)finding the cash to make the changes I want is very hard. You've help spark that dream in me once more. I am so excited to start making improvements on this old farmhouse we call home. Thanks for giving me my dream back.

I do have a question about the bead board wallpaper. Is it sturdy enough to use on kitchen cabinets?

lizziefitz said...

You are such a generous woman!!!

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

So much talent out there! Thank you for sharing so many inspirational photos for all of us DIY peeps :)
Take care

Anonymous said...


Another wonderful post! Thank you for encouraging readers to follow their hearts. You made me laugh 'quoting' Kevin (not really!)

Received my package from Jude and I'm so pleased with it!

Have a great day, my friend.


Amber Polk said...

Great post! I love all of it. Bead board wall paper!! I never knew...

My husband and I will be painting our kitchen cabinets white over the summer because of your blog. I've always wanted to, just scared. Thanks for the inspiration.

Shell said...

This was a really great post! Love your blog!

LiveLikeYou said...

What a fantastic post. Great ideas how to give your home some personality and turn you home in to "you" not some generic building.

Kelli said...

Our first house was a brand new builder grad home. We couldn't help ourselves, we went to town on the place. We antiqued our cabinets, added a few new light fixtures, moldings, painted, tiled(!!!) in the bathroom, kitchen and even on our fireplace wall. Pretty much everything that Layla suggested. When we went to sell our house, we had 7 viewings and sold it in 12 days. All because of the personal touches!
It was great practice for the new house we built ourselves last year!

3 Peanuts said...

GREAT ideas. I think once you jump in...the fear goes away!!!!

Janice said...

Hi Layla
This is my first time commenting but I love your blog so much. What a thoughtful and informative post. The transformations in your house are gorgeous, your attention to detail is amazing. I really love the old door you used. Hope you are having a great week!

Life Is Crazy Beautiful said...

What an encouraging & empowering post! Yes, men + wood = an issue. Our house was built in 1997, we not only have oak cabinets (only doors are solid) and hollow core doors, but oak trim EVERYWHERE, including solid oak window trim & casings. My hubby would go for painting cabinets (though he wants to replace the kitchen cabinets with black or white & move oak to laundry room in basement). I might be able to convince him to replace the doors eventually, but all the trim, windows and fireplace mantel??? That will take some MAJOR convincing!

LOVE your posts, humor & inspiration!


jenifer said...

i'm also a first time commenter, long time lurker. i LOVE this post. thanks. it was so good to see kitchens that look like mine (builder boring) transformed!
i'm still a bit wimpy, but someday i MAY convince my husband to PAINT cabinets with me. i'm so nervous that they will look worse when i'm finished and i'll NEVER live down his 'told you so'. i had to live with a NEON green bathroom for a YEAR before i could repaint it a better green...(i love that you've painted your cabinets twice.) love your blog... you're adorable.

Jen said...

Thank you for these wonderfully practical ideas for adding character. We are moving next month, and I plan to use the bronzed spray paint on the gold dining room chandelier that awaits us in our new home. :)


Wuda said...

Layla, your site is great-I love it! Any suggestions for replacing that ceiling mount light fixture that does look like a "boob"? I hate those too. We have a 1978 square flush fixture - literally flat with the ceiling in our lake house hallway, and I'd give anything to replace it but it seems all that is available is the one you pictured - and I don't want that one - it's boring ! Thanks!

Marie Anne said...

Thanks for all the ideas! That's a lot to process but makes for a lot of inspirations rummaging in the space between my ears!

Lettered Cottage said...

Hey Wuda!

I'm diggin this one lately...

Flush Mount Sea Gull Light

What do you think?

Nadir @ Hodgepodge said...

What a GREAT post! I love all of these ideas! And they all seem so simple!

Precision Quality Laser said...

I have been debating on whether or not to paint my kitchen cabs....this post sealed their drab fate! Your before kitchen is the same color as mine is right now, with the same cabs and I think a similar countertop. (My living room is not orange though) You made your kitchen look like a totally different room! I am going to show my hubby the post...and he will probably not be able to visualize it...but I am going to go for it anyway! :)

I loved this post...thanks for sharing the inspiration!

Valerie Koop said...

Oh My.

Total eye candy.

Sent it to everyone I know that would appreciate it.


Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Ok, So have you seen the movie "Notting Hill," where Hugh Grant's crazy sister tells Julie Roberts "I just know we could be best friends!" That's how I feel everytime I read your posts! I just found your blog a few weeks ago and to say I LOVE LOVE LOVE it would be an understatement! You are great! Thanks for all of the inspiration!!

Folkman's said...

One of my favorite posts! So well displayed!

Unknown said...

Yes inspiration it is...and also great ideas to innovate and get creative.I like the free use of lights and doors.

custom dining furniture

Cookie said...

Great post! I LOVE the look of white or cream cabinets too but thats just because its what I like...But there are lots of people who like the look of Oak cabinets and you can still make the kitchen yours by just accessorizing what you already have, if your not up to giving it a total makeover...I have seen some kitchens like this one decorated beautifully! Good luck!

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

What a great post! I love that you encourage changing a house into a home that YOU will love, doesn't matter what anyone else thinks! Great inspiration pics here, too.

I am currently re-doing our dining room and starting from scratch (other than our dining table -- a family piece -- and that's negotiable down the road) and I'd love your opinion on what to do! Thanks! :)


Stephanie said...

Oh my gosh! This is just what I needed! We own a new house in Colorado, and even though I painted some of the rooms, it still doesn't have the warm, charming feel of an old house. Right now, we're renting a 100 year old house in Wisconsin (my husband's in the Army and we moved last summer), and I'm in LOVE with all the "old fashioned touches" throughout the house. I keep thinking: "Oh man, when we move back to our "new" house, I'm gonna miss the "old feel" of this house." BUT, after reading this post, I feel renewed hope! Who knew beadboard wallpaper existed? NOT ME! Love it. So, thanks for gathering all these GREAT ideas! You rock my socks. :)


Anonymous said...

Wow, I think this is my favorite post of yours yet so far! This is so helpful...I kind of feel the same way as Courtney. Right now I am living in a brand new condominium (rented) with stainless steel applicants, black marble EVERYTHING and reddish hardwood,and it is SO not my style at ALL. I'm already looking forward to buying a house when I move out of here, and was worrying about a lot of the same things as Courtney was...I will definitely be saving this and coming back to it when I have my own home to play around with!

Snot said...

Hi Layla,
I have a quick question--do you think oil rubbed bronze is classic or do you think it is trendy and will go out of style like brass?? I would soooo appreiate your opinion on this. Thanks so much!!

geri said...

You are so awesome.
How do you do it?
Blog, design, create, & do renovations non are tooo talented and an achiever of doing the things you love with your life
Did you ever say how much you charge for an in home visit, consult or cup of tea. hehe
Super terrific post. geri.

Stephenie from Decorating Addiction said...

I love this post. I love that you encourage everyone that home is YOUR own style. I hate when I walk into a home and it's builder-designed. Great inspiration and great ideas here. Thanks!

Sarah said...

Hi Layla,

I wanted to finally de-lurk to say such a great post, and I totally agree with your comments. Keep the great advice coming :)

Carla said...

Layla, you are awesome! What a gift your blog is! So fun and easy to read! Beautiful pictures and your writing style makes me feel like you're sittin' here next to me! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Such an excellent post! Very inspiring, thanks Layla.

April said...

Such really helpful, practical, and pretty ideas!!! Thanks for posting them...I think that a lot of people struggle with these kinds of issues when they move into 'tract housing.' So...thanks!

Isabel said...

Loved your suggestions! of course, living in Brazil everything is quite different, we don't do much DIY around here, we don't even have the means...
but because I browse decorating blogs so much I thought I would suggest Our Suburban Cottage post on renovating a kitchen. It has a step by step on painting cupboards.

Erica said...

Great post Layla! I too have a builder beige kitchen. Every finish is beautiful on its own...but there is just no personality. Thanks for giving me the courage to change something that is new...even when there is nothing wrong with it ;).
I LOVE what you have done with your kitchen!!!


Hello said...

I can't believe it, I feel like I could have written the letter myself. We bought our brand new home 3 yrs ago and I've had the same feelings of "guilt about changing perfectly good builder grade stuff". I hate that I feel that way and I'm hoping it will change as I gain more confidence in interior decorating. My main problem is I miss my white cabinets (In our other two homes we had ivory cabinets) since I settled on our current cabinets as to not spend more money. Hopefully I'l have the courage to have them sprayed.
thanks for this wonderful post, sometimes I need a kick in the pants :)

amy said...

Layla: Love your post. My question is, what do you do when all your trim is stained wood? I wood love to do beadboard or some of the molding treatments you have done on my walls. HOWEVER, having cherry trim work, I feel like I can't do anything.
Any suggestions?

Mrs. Butler said...

Okay. So, this is my favorite post yet. I LOVE THIS POST! Love it! And finally, did I mention this was my favorite post?

Tracy said...

Well that was the most informative blog post I have ever read. Wow. And thank you.

Lettered Cottage said...

Hey "TeamShield"!

I think white-painted beadboard and cherry wood trim would look great together. The same way a cherry wood FLOOR would look great with white-painted beadboard walls.

Go for it! :-)


Sharon@Sharon at Home said...

Layla ....I love this post and want to do everything on it. If this doesn't inspire someone to pick up a paint brush, hammer or screw driver nothing will.

Great suggestions and pictures.

Kim said...

So many wonderful ideas! Ones that can be applied to old as well as new homes :-)

erin said...

AMEN! I'm de-lurking to agree! When I moved into my brand-new house a few years back, I had every intention of painting the stock maple cabinets white (every kitchen I love is white). Well, a couple of years ago I did it. Afterwards, a neighbor, who is also a realtor, said "Oh, you painted your kitchen white. That is the single worst thing you can do for re-sale in AZ. NOBODY wants a white kitchen in AZ." I didn't care. I love it, and whether I'm here one year or 50, I love this kitchen every day (and wish I'd done it sooner). It takes confidence to follow your dreams. The trend in AZ has long been the Tuscan look, but I've always loved a classic white kitchen. Wouldn't you know two months later another neighbor, after seeing and loving mine, decided to paint and trim her kitchen just like mine. So, if there are two of us, there might just be one more that doesn't want a standard, dark-wood kitchen. Do what you love & enjoy it. No apologies!

Janelle Wind said...

Hi Layla, I have been a long time fan of your blog but am delurking to say WOW and thank you for this amazingly inspirational post. There are so many amazing ideas. Sadly we aren't living in our own home at the moment but I hope to one day be able to put my mark on our very own home. If you ever have time to post some ideas for people renting but wanting to personalise their home, I would be so very grateful. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for being such a beautiful and inspirational person. x Janelle (from Australia)

Sarah M said...

Wow - I've been stuck in a rut in my own home for way too long! It was so refreshing and inspiring to read through...

nest of posies said...

this is an outstanding post. it makes people think!
you used such board examples as well AND different types of homes. not just one style!!!!
i love when designer blogs can see past what they just like & showcase other possibilities as well.

beautifully done! perfect pictures to make everyone think outside the box no matter what their style is!!!

Amy said...

I am so glad to have found this post! We moved into a new house in October and i feel like I live in a 3000 square foot apt! It is so boring and blah and I don't even know where to start making it feel like home. I will be referring to this post often, thanks for giving me an outline of sorts!

Karena said...

Julia sent me your way today and I am just amazed at your tips. Many that one wouldn't think of to do inexpensively, and make a big difference!

Art by Karena

Karena said...

Oh and seeing the before and after images is always great!

Art by Karena

A well Loved Home said...

Truly one of the best and most helpful posts ever writen on any blog I have ever read! You are my new favorite mentor. Thanks!

amy said...

Thanks Layla!
I think I will try it :)
Now to pick a room!

Lindsay said...

Question - So the picture of your kitchen redo near the beginning of this post, is that beadboard wallpaper that I see on the right side of the picture, or is it actual wood molding? (trying to learn how to recognize it and its uses)

Delightful Dwelling said...

I love this post, it's a problem I have with our mid 90s ranch. My husband doesn't like changing things unless they are broken so it can be a challenge to get him to go along with my ideas.

Have you thought about doing a post on decorating with open floor plans? I know a lot of homes have the open living/dining/kitchen areas without any walls dividing the space. It's hard to figure out whether to paint all the rooms that same color or different colors and where to start and stop the colors.

Ours is even weirder because the dining room table is about 5 feet from the kitchen table and it just looks odd to me to have the two eating spaces next to each other, but I don't know what else to do with the spaces!