Kitchen and Bath Showrooms Los Angeles County

Top 12 Tips To Customize Your New Construction Home

Check out these easy ways to customize your new home from interior design expert John McClain.

Los Angeles interior designer John McClain posing in a bright living room, in front of a cream couch and light pink bouquet, wearing a blue shirt, beige jacket and black pants (left) and his new book cover "The Designer Within: A Professional Guide to a Well-Styled Home" (right)
Los Angeles-based interior designer John McClain (left) and the cover of his
new book "The Designer Within: A Professional Guide to a Well-Styled Home" (right)

L.A.-based designer John McClain is one busy guy. An accomplished residential interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor, John seems to be everywhere all at once, turning his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others. Amongst his many noteworthy accomplishments, John recently authored and published his first book “The Designer Within: A Professional Guide to a Well-Styled Home”, which is aimed at empowering all of us, regardless of experience or budget, to integrate professional-level interior design concepts and beauty into our homes and lives—even when we think it may be unobtainable.

We’ve long admired John’s projects, philosophy, and design style, an eclectic mix of traditional elements fused with clean lines and touches of glamor, so we were thrilled that he carved out time to work with us to bring his fun and useful ‘Top 12 Ways to Make Your New Construction Home Feel Custom’ to Design On Tap.

Thanks John!

1) Change Your Light Fixtures

Let’s face it, most builders don’t spend a lot of time choosing special light fixtures for your home. They want to make it easy to replicate their process (and probably save money on inexpensive fixtures at the same time). However for you, the change is easy—leave existing junction boxes and change out wall sconces, bathroom lights, and ceiling lights. Throw some extra love and attention to special places like the entry and living room. You’ll go from builder-grade to beautiful in no time.

QUICK TIP | Take inventory of rooms that could use new lighting and make sure not to hang anything too heavy.

Office space upstairs facing a window, by a large spiral iron staircase and three large iron lantern pendant lighting

2) Frame Your Builder-Grade Bathroom Mirrors

Most new homes are built with basic frameless bathroom mirrors. However, you can make them feel custom and hide the ugly edges by attaching a thin piece of wood trim around the perimeter to overlap the mirror, and then stain or paint it in the color of your choice.  The result? A unique custom mirror!

QUICK TIP | Choose a color that matches your cabinetry.

Black and white bathroom with a single white sink, silver faucet, dark marble countertop, white tiled shower and a dark wood framed mirror

3) Add Wallpaper

Wallpaper is your friend—it can instantly transform a space from blah to beautiful. If you’re timid, start with a smaller space like your powder room or a focal wall in a bedroom and watch the magic happen. If you're really feeling bold, wallpaper the ceiling.

Two navy French doors opened, with a view on an office space, black and brass desk behind a flowery patterned bright blue wallpaper

4) Landscaping

Don’t be afraid of yard work. If your builder laid out a landscaping pattern for your front or backyard, but you don’t enjoy the plants that were used, change out the existing plants to varieties that suit the environment and align with your personal style.

QUICK TIP | Add color, size, and texture to your yard just like your interior. And soon, your yard will look like it was custom designed just for you.

Large backyard patio with a big wooden 8-seat table in a lush garden

5) Paint

Chances are your home came with the exact same paint color throughout every single room. Now this might seem obvious, but sometimes you just need permission to repaint to create a custom feel and choose special colors for various areas. Consider keeping the same color throughout all the common spaces but have some fun in the bedrooms and bathrooms. 

QUICK TIP | Prefer a darker, warmer color in a bedroom or office for a more nurturing and cozy feel.

Dark grey room with an iron desk, dark wooden floor and skin rug

6) Upgrade Your Door Hardware

This might be last on your list of priorities, but you would be amazed at how much upgrading your door hardware will do to customize a cookie-cutter home.

QUICK TIP | Try something new and bring in a different finish than the standard stainless steel or satin nickel. Add a brass, black, or bronze if it works with your decor. Choose a handle or knob that feels special in design for a true high end look.

Bright and elegant bathroom, white marble floor, gold bathtub fixtures, gold framed mirror, gold sconces and gold tub side table. Large white bathtub. White door open with a brass door knob.

7) Paint Your Front Door

First impressions matter! The front door is literally the calling card to your home. It's the first thing people see when they come to your house, so why not paint that in an exciting color? It will make your home feel special, your guests feel welcome and make your construction home feel custom.

QUICK TIP | Experiment with color, go a little wild and choose a color that you love but might be afraid to use on your walls inside your house. This simple weekend project will instantly create a custom feel for your home.

Black painted front door with 4 rectangular windows, with a view of the living room on the side

8) Add Window Treatments

Window treatments like shades, blinds, shutters or curtains, can be applied to your existing or new construction home to add softness, color or texture to a room. You would be surprised at how much it can transform a space.

QUICK TIP | Bring your drapery rod as close to the ceiling as possible and the drapes should just barely touch the floor. If you’re doing this as a DIY project, order panels longer than you need and simply have them hemmed.

Large master bedroom with a thick wood bed frame, high mattress, styled with a lot of pillows and blankets, a bench in front of the bed with woman's heels left in front of the bench.

9) Change Your Kitchen Cabinetry Hardware

Changing out the cabinetry hardware in your kitchen is one of the fastest and most dramatic ways to transform your kitchen. You may be content  with your cabinetry because you either chose it before or saw it in a previous home, but you’d be surprised at the significant and immediate visual impact that changing out the cabinet hardware can have on the overall look and feel of the space. You also may be surprised at the breadth of gorgeous options available in today’s market. .

QUICK TIP | Repeat a metal finish from an adjoining room such as antique brass or black to make the kitchen blend with its surroundings.

Modern kitchen with a dark blue cabinet color, gold hardware, stainless steel range and hood.

10) Add Architectural Features

Crown molding, ceiling details, or wainscoting are a great way to personalize your new home. Beef up your baseboards by replacing them with taller ones, or if you don’t want to rip them out, add a piece of trim molding an inch or two above and paint everything below it to make it look like it’s one piece.

QUICK TIP | You can also add furniture with architectural appeal such as built-in bookcases.

Contemporary dining room, with grey walls, a large black table with brass legs, 3 white and brass chairs, 3 crystal candle holders on the table, gold mirror behind and a silver mirror light pendant

11) Paint Your Bathroom Vanities

If you’re happy with the style of your bathroom vanity but wish it had more wow factor, consider painting it. This quick and effective change upgrades your ho-hum vanities into something that looks and feels truly custom. 

QUICK TIP | Be sure to prime your bathroom vanity before painting it.

Black and white bathroom with black and white patterned floor tiles, a white sink, black faucet, grey cabinets and gold hardware, black framed mirror, a vase with red flowers and a 24h du Mans car poster on the wall

12) Change Your Vent Covers

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems might be the last things you think about for beauty, but those ugly vent covers and return covers should be reviewed. There are so many various patterns and styles available these days that you can simply unscrew and reinstall. 

QUICK TIP | Measure the interior of the vent opening after you remove the existing one so that you can replace it with the exact size.

Wide white and wood kitchen with 6 wooden chairs at the counter, white marble countertop, white patterned tiled backsplash, windows with a view on greenery, silver faucet, a bit black vase on the counter and dark wood cabinets

Learn more about John McClain: Website | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

Discover John McClain’s new book:

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