From a Bland Builder Home to a Luxurious Dream Space

There were plenty of desirable features for a young family in this modern turn-key home in Toronto’s east end, like high ceilings, big windows, and spacious common areas.  But it was majorly lacking in personality! With some creative solutions and a little help from a local interior designer (me!), we were able to transform it into the luxurious dream home it was always meant to be. Let’s dive in and take a look at 5 of the ways we injected this bland house with some carefully curated interior design solutions. Plus, from open-concept to private retreat, see how we changed the open concept living area into an enclosed sanctuary and why it worked!



This is probably the number one way to personalize or refresh a Builder-grade home. Now, what do I mean when I say “Builder-grade home”? I am just referring to houses that are built, by a builder, to sell. Depending on the level of craftsmanship, Builder homes can be well-made but lacking in character. Paint is the easiest way to add your own personal touch.

Typically, builder’s will apply white paint everywhere because it is easy and is a “clean slate” for potential home-buyers. Maybe you love white walls (I do!) and think there is no reason to change them, but think again! I am sure you have heard that there are endless white paint colours out there, so take the time to properly TEST out some whites (or other colours) that might work better for you and your space. Lately, I have been a big fan of Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace, but TEST TEST TEST. In this example, we painted the living room in BM’s Metropolitan Gray. If selecting a paint colour makes your head spin, then consider hiring a residential interior designer to do it for you. Keep reading for photos of the finished product!


Wall Paneling

Have you ever walked through a home (maybe even your own) with one empty wall after the next? It can look like you just moved in when in reality you’ve been living there for years! Yikes! For many homeowners, getting art up on the walls can be a real stumbling block. Builder homes are often void of interesting interior architectural details leaving walls feeling plain and boring. Architectural elements like wall paneling also known as wall molding or wainscoting, usually made of strips of wood applied on top of drywall and then painted over, can add loads of visual interest. Although you can absolutely hang artwork on top of it, it also looks great on its own! There are many types of wall paneling styles. This is just one example that we used in my client’s living room transformation.  An interior designer can plan it out, choose the location and help you determine which style works best for your space.



Lighting is another fairly easy way to transform your home from boring to dynamic! Builder’s need to find ways to keep their costs down, so the light fixtures they select can often look generic. Adding or swapping out light fixtures for a style that works with your decor, whether it’s a ceiling light or a wall light, provides both visual interest and layers of lighting options to set the mood. Pot lights do not always give off the most flattering lighting solution, so having other options is crucial.

In this example, the stairwell only had pot lights, so we added a large geometric brass pendant to create a focal point. In the living room, we added two different styles of wall sconces plus a gorgeous ceiling fixture.  Hardwired fixtures like these, which require a registered electrician to install, are an excellent option. Plug-in wall lighting is a great alternative for those who don’t want to or can’t install hardwired fixtures.


Built-in Banquette

If your space allows, adding a custom built-in banquette to your breakfast or dining area or a built-in media/shelf unit to your family room is a great way to transform your empty walls into something both functional and beautiful. Here, the dining area already had a recessed wall making it the perfect place for built-in seating. A custom-made banquette finished the look and, bonus, it’s also an excellent space-saving solution.


Fireplace Mantel

Modern gas fireplaces are a common element found in new homes.  In this Toronto home, the mantle on the family room fireplace was large, bulky and the perfect candidate for a makeover!

Rather than ripping the fireplace out, we chose to keep the gray marble surround and the gas insert, and replaced the mantle with a new, minimal-style moulding.  The result is sleek, clean-lined and a much better fit for this modern home. The built-in shelves to the left of the fireplace got a much-needed facelift with a closed cabinet to hide electronics and unsightly cords.


From open concept to private retreat

These days, many homes are built with an open-concept layout. The light flows in and small homes are made to feel more spacious, but can there be “too much of a good thing”? Is there such a thing as too much open space??? Sometimes when a home is completely open concept it can make it challenging to furnish a room and create a defined living area.  Houses like this also tend to be echoey (is that a word?) and don’t offer as many places for privacy.

That’s what happened with my client’s home.  The entire main floor, except for the foyer, was open concept. The living room bled into the hallway which flowed into the dining and kitchen area which was completely open to the family room. Nowhere to hide, right?  Enter Mirelle Goren Interiors!  We made the bold decision to put UP a wall! Yes, you heard that correctly!  The living room was on one end of the house and was being completely under-utilized. So, the decision to enclose it was clear.  Rather than slapping up drywall with a standard door and calling it a day, we thoughtfully created French pocket doors with glass panes inset in a metal framework.  The clear glass allows light to flow in and out and it also gives passersby a sneak peek into this chic, sophisticated sanctuary, making it feel special, inviting, and exclusive.  The black metal framing is a unique architectural element that immediately takes this home from generic to unique and will leave a lasting impression on guests.

Now the living room, with plenty of comfortable seating and a stocked bar cabinet, is not only a relaxing place to unwind, but also a welcoming room for entertaining. And when you want to keep the kids and dog out of there, just close the doors! Dreams really can come true (when you hire an interior designer 😉).  Here are the satisfying Before, During and After photos of this living room transformation you’ve been waiting for!








To see additional images of this home makeover, follow the link to my Portfolio!

If you or someone you know is thinking about a home makeover or renovation, Mirelle Goren Interiors is here to help!