The American dream of owning a home is a storied one. Yet I don’t think anyone today is referencing John Mellencamp’s “little pink houses” or Wilco’s “rows and rows of houses” in their dreams. Craftsmanship in real estate is heavily valued today. So it’s no surprise that homeowners wish to make their “production”, “developer”, “non-custom”, or “cookie-cutter home” feel more unique and handcrafted.
Production homes — those where the construction is nearly identical — can seem rampant in the suburbs of some U.S. cities and are a lower-cost alternative in Park City. There are some changes you can make on both the inside and outside to make your home feel more unique.
Keep in mind, many neighborhoods and subdivisions are governed by Homeowners Associations (HOAs). Many HOAs will ask approval of an Architectural Review Committee (ARC) for any updates made to the front-facing exterior of the home and any other major renovations.
As the first item a visitor may see when arriving at your home, a driveway should have serious curb appeal. If you are looking to add unique charm to yours, you are in luck. There are many ways to customize a driveway. Simply filling in cracks and landscaping edges is the first step. But you can always replace a boring concrete driveway with brick, cobblestone and more. There is even stamped concrete that can help you achieve a brick or stone look with less time and hassle. And in a mountain town like Park City, heated driveways are all the rage (can you say “no more shoveling”?)
Garage Doors are also an easy facelift and can really add a lot of new hand-crafted charm to an ordinary home. Things to look for in a garage door is material (wood versus steel) as well as windows, decorative hardware and insulation. Some garage door companies’ websites allow you to upload a photo of your home to see what it would look like with your new garage door.
Real estate professionals do recommend an updated front door as a good return on investment. Like driveways and garage doors, an attractive front door makes a great first impression. As a bonus, adding a front door with clear or clouded windows can increase the natural light coming into your home.
Who doesn’t love a classic porch swing? Add unique appeal to your front deck area with a cozy porch swing. Not enough space? Check out single porch swings, a colorful Adirondack chair or a rustic bench with plenty of pillows.
Potted plants add a lot of life to any space and the front yard is no different. I like to look for pots made out of composite materials that can withstand the harsh winters and sunny summers. Many pots can be used through four seasons with a little creativity. Dress up a topiary with foliage in the fall, lights in the winter and re-pot them in spring.
Does your home have a quirky hallway or a cramped room? Think about tearing out some of the walls to open up the space. We think that the open concept floor plan is here to stay. Many walls in a home are non-weight bearing and it might be easier than you think to simply remove or rearrange one or two.
Custom blinds or curtains will not only set your home apart style-wise, they can add an extra level on insulation to your home. Also, in the case of close neighbors, these measures can help with privacy and security. With styles ranging from traditional to modern and everything in-between, there is something to match anyone’s décor.
Lighting can add a lot to a space. There are many local lighting designers in town that can help you with an overall lighting concept. Today, creativity and efficiency are married beautifully with handcrafted designs, LED bulb efficiency, and remote programming options.
Upgraded countertops can add an instant facelift to an interior space. Again, the sky is the limit as far as customization goes. Granite or other solid stone surfaces are the classic go-to in Park City, but a butcher block or fun metal like copper can really warm up a space.
Sink and tub fixtures are another quick-fix when it comes to setting your home apart. Replacing the builder-grade models that came standard with cookie-cutter homes can add a lot of charm. The great thing about this upgrade is that most fixtures can be swapped out in an hour or two.
Upgrading door hardware can give your home more personality. But while you are at it, why not update your interior doors, too? Changing doors is a dramatic upgrade that will transform the interior of your home. Many production homes come stock with hollow doors. Replace them with solid wood and you’ll get noise reduction and a better appearance to boot.
Crown Molding can really make a room feel more elegant. It is a great way to hide flaws and can cover up ugly wiring. There are many styles to choose but we do recommend this upgrade be left to seasoned professionals.
Wainscoting can transform a room by adding decoration and character to an otherwise bland wall. Wainscoting also serves a functional purpose as it protects the walls from everyday use. This could be very handy in a mudroom a playroom or a children’s nursery.
Flooring may not seem to be an obvious choice when trying for a more hand-crafted home. But the right flooring choice will brighten up a space and give it a different overall feel. From hardwood to tile and even cork, there are many modern options. Many of these can be installed and finished in a day or two, and a good flooring specialist can work around large furniture.
Some believe that built-ins can help keep your home cleaner and more organized. Built-in shelving and cabinets are a great way to consolidate and display your curated art or book collection. There are a number of artisan woodworkers in the area that work with different types of wood and can help you achieve the look you want.
These are 15 of our favorite ways to handcraft your cookie-cutter home. What positive changes have you made to your home?