Builder-grade homes can sometimes get a lot of flack for being boring. But one great thing about a builder-grade home? It provides the perfect canvas for custom updates.
Take it from Katelyn Herman, who bought her home in 2019. While it was built in 1947, updates lacked charm. “Everything is builders grade and basic, including this guest bathroom,” Katelyn says. “It was fine, but nothing special and didn’t have much personality.”
That was ok for a while, but spending more time at home in the past year made her itch for something with a little more pop. “The longer I was at home during quarantine, the more the blandness of it started to bother me,” Katelyn says.
Katelyn’s boyfriend, Gabe, moved in with her last summer, and this proved to be the perfect first project for the couple to do together. On the walls, they installed beadboard paneling that went about halfway up the wall, then painted the area above a bright blue with a stenciled white pattern that gives the look of wallpaper. “We were surprised, but really shouldn’t have been, at how bowed some of our walls are,” Katelyn says. “The house was built in 1947, so it is to be expected, but I never noticed until trying to align the beadboard panels. Thankfully my partner is a patient man and great at math.”
Katelyn installed the faucet herself, but hit a bit of a snag when she couldn’t fix a small but persistent leak. The couple hired a plumber to make the fix, and Katelyn was able to pocket some knowledge for her next DIY. “Now I know I have to seal the drain inside the sink and under the gasket on the bottom side,” Katelyn says.
Something similar happened when the couple tried to swap out the light fixture. When they pulled the old one off the wall, they saw that there was actually no electrical box beneath it. That meant the easy swap became a little more complicated. “Electrical work is outside of both of our comfort zones, so we opted to have a professional install and center the new fixture,” Katelyn says.
Finally, they added new pulls to the vanity, a new towel ring, and a fresh shower curtain. The total cost for the project — including the labor of the plumber and electrician — was $850.
The new bathroom strikes just the note Katelyn was going for. “I love how it feels simple but pronounced simultaneously,” she says. “It’s the first project Gabe and I have done together since deciding to live with one another, so it’s a little extra special.”
In fact, working together made the project easier in a lot of ways. “I am not math savvy, so the accurate measurements and fractions for the boards wouldn’t have been possible without him; he hates painting and has never stenciled anything before, so the pattern wouldn’t have been possible without me,” Katelyn says. “I think we did a good job of deciding on what we wanted beforehand and executing it accordingly.”
Even so, Katelyn has some advice for anyone other couples taking on this “first” together: “Be patient with yourself and, if you’re doing it with a partner, your partner. It’ll be frustrating and tiring but worth it,” she says. “Also, have your drink of choice on hand.” Hear, hear!
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