# decorating a plain space # elegant decorating

Can a Tract Home Be Chic? + Living Room Budget Makeover

Can a tract home be chic? That's the question I'm exploring in today's video.

Tract housing is a type of housing development in which multiple similar homes are built on a tract of land that is subdivided into individual small lots.

There are many pros and cons to living in a tract home. Let's examine those before we discuss decorating strategies.

The benefits to living in a tract home is that they usually are set up with modern conveniences. Many of them contain ample storage and dedicated laundry, pantry and linen rooms. The tract home is designed for the modern family and that is a wonderful aspect to focus on if you feel frustrated with your space. Other benefits to tract housing are the large rooms, ample space, and open floor plan. The fixtures are generally generic and easy to replace. You also feel a sense of community as you are close to your neighbors.

The cons of living in a tract home largely revolve around style for me. They tend to have no originality, interiors tend to be bland and generic, without any special architectural details. Many other houses look exactly like yours. They can also be awkward to decorate and require more creativity in dressing the space.

In order to customize the space, get original with how you decorate. Avoid decorating your entire home from the large chain decorating stores. Seek out unusual antiques, thrift store finds, and special, custom touches that only you have. This will help give your home that special, original quality that it lacks. Use paint, wallpaper, paintings, plants, throw pillows, and unique furniture to express your style. Don't forget to focus on ambiance through music, books, and scent.

Many of our paintings are antiques purchased off of eBay. Here is a link to some of the eBay stores we have purchased from in the past. You can find amazing artwork on eBay for excellent prices.
Cathedral Fine Art, Delphifineart, Unusualfindscompanyinc , Jose Trujillo, and blue and white porcelain on eBay

I recently rearranged the artwork in our living room, creating a gallery wall. We also added a budget rug (from IKEA) and a tropical plant to make the space more exotic and inviting. This entire decorating project was accomplished for under $150. Yes, I utilized a big box chain store like IKEA to decorate, but you'll see that those pieces are mixed with our own antique paintings, and custom sofas, etc. to create a look that is truly our own.

Many of you have seen our kitchen renovation video. We went from our very dark and dated kitchen to a beautiful, blue and white airy space. I adore our custom kitchen that we did on a budget and appreciate it every day. It's custom touches like this that make our tract home stand out.

Featured in today's video: my blouse, pearl necklace
Use code Jennifer10 for $10 off, and Odette 18K gold pearl earrings Jennifer20 for 20% off.

I hope you enjoy today's video.

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My daughters and I are all dressed up and ready for the piano recital.

Comment of the Week
Nancy writes, "Hi Jennifer,
One of your comments about studying dress caught my attention and reminded me of a book I enjoy, "The Lost Art of Dress" by Linda Przybyszewski (copyright 2014) and would like to highly recommend it. It is a book which focuses on dress during the first half of the twentieth century, an interesting and enjoyable book! I have loaned this book out on numerous occasions with positive responses.
I can't help but wonder did you recommend this book years ago on one of your earlier videos ?
Loved your video, as always.

Hi Nancy, yes! I actually wrote the blurb for the cover of The Lost Art of Dress. It's an excellent book and I did recommend it back when it was published. Thank you for commenting!

I would love to know... do you live in a tract home? What do you struggle with decorating-wise? What tips do you have for us? For those of you who live in original homes, what advice would you like to share? Let us know in the comments and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on The Daily Connoisseur.

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Unknown said...

I don't live in a tract home, but I think that a bit of landscaping, and customising the exterior entry (porch, verandah or even ground level entry door area) and front door & windows makes a huge difference to any home, tract or otherwise. Think: door colour and hardware, seasonal floral arrangements or plantings, address signs, lighting, mailbox, and indoor window treatments that show well from the outside. Again, this doesn't have to be costly. Sometimes just a good paint colour, and a free afternoon can do it. And to be very chic - the outside should be as tidy and neat as the inside.

mtw said...

I have lived in both tract and custom built. Tract housing definitely has the downside of creating a "vanilla" neighborhood. When we moved into our current home I noticed that all my neighbors had left their front doors unpainted, including my house! I immediately planned to paint the front door, start landscaping, and that winter I had my husband install crown moulding throughout the living and dining rooms, foyer, and powder room. It changed the look of the house dramatically. The custom home had its own challenges, but I prefer the custom design to tract. Sometimes, however, it comes down the circumstances and availability. In the long run, home is where the heart is.

Kristyn Hall said...

I already commented on YouTube, but I just wanted to add that you and your girls look lovely. 👸👸👸 I am sure I have said this before, but once upon a time I had a wavy-haired blonde and a straight-haired brunette at home, two years apart, and I often dressed them alike. ♡♡ They are now 23 and 21 and living on their own. I cherish the memories when they were your girls' ages. Their four younger brothers are still home and they are a lot of fun, but I do miss my girls. It's a different kind of fun. x

Gigi said...

Tract homes do present a design challenge in that you want your home to be distinctive from your neighbors. I think thoughtful renovations (if necessary) and clever decorating can make it stand out.

I hosted a baby shower a few years ago and one of the attendees told me that her friend had the exact same (challenging) living room and she loved the way that I had arranged my furniture (on an angle versus the obvious straight ahead look at the fireplace). Sometimes it's just looking for the options available.

Gigi said...

Tract houses can be challenging since we all want our homes to be distinctive from our neighbors. But I think with thoughtful renovations (if needed) and creative design/decor choices it can be done.

I hosted a baby shower a few years ago and a guest informed me that her friend had the exact same (challenging) living room and that she loved the way I had arranged my furniture. Instead of the obvious, couch facing the fireplace head on, I had angled it. Sometimes, it's just looking at what is obvious and figuring out the options.

Aussie Connoisseur said...

In Australia we call these homes housing development homes, where a new neighbourhood is created and a whole lot of homes go up at once. I would never have guessed yours is a tract home and that is obviously due to the care and thought you have put into decorating and creating a beautiful home.

I live in an 1890s wooden cottage and absolutely love it. But the intro to your video reminds me of it's downside - absolutely no storage, and of course it is small. However, without fail people comment on how charming it is, and it has taken years of renovations and searching for just the right furniture and art work to get it to where it is today. And it's not quite finished! We still need to tile the hearth and I will be making curtains for the bedroom and painting over the Summer holidays. Whilst I would love a big linen closet, a second loo and more storage in general, I am also aware of how very, very lucky I am to have such a gorgeous home.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hello ladies, thank you for your comments. I enjoyed reading them here and over on YouTube. Many of you live in old homes and I heard the pros and cons of it. I think the bottom line is we all should rejoice and be grateful for where we live... and it's also OK to dream about the future and what it holds. I loved reading your decorating tips too!

I hope to see you back on Thursday.

Jennifer xx

Beloved Bookshelf said...

Hi Jennifer! I really enjoyed this video and you sharing the simple, inexpensive changes you made to your living room. It looks very classy and cozy! Thank you for sharing the ideas but also making them practical for us with small children and on budgets.

I have another suggestion that is inexpensive. My husband and I bought a vintage travel posters calendar many years ago and we framed some of the prints using inexpensive Ikea frames. They are so lovely and cost less than $10 a piece if you add the cost of the calendar and frames. Another option is printing paintings from Wikimedia Commons or botanical prints from Biodiversity Heritage Library (check that images are public domain only).


Dawn Martenz said...

Having lived in military and tract homes for the past 20 years, I have become a master at personalizing bland generic spaces to suit our taste and personality! One of the best investments I have ever made was to buy modular bookcases, shelving, a desk, and entertainment unit. Each piece is separate and can be configured to fit each new house. I choose all white for the color and often, visitors have mistaken our furniture for built-in's. This has given our homes a cozier, more refined feeling than other identical houses. All of my furniture is light, neutral finishes and I change other elements in our home to suit the season. For instance, I switch our two area rugs to darker colors in the winter, lighter in the spring/summer (this also is when I have the rugs cleaned). I change the artwork and framed pictures we display (I keep multiple photos in a frames, so this is a cinch), the throw pillows/blankets on our sofas, draperies (again I clean them), even lampshades and houseplants are rotated. All of this keeps our home warm, inviting, unique to us, and never dull! Most of the items I have, even area rugs, have been slowly acquired from very thrifty shopping at consignment/thrift/antique stores. I'm always on the hunt!

Vicki Zimmerman said...

Jennifer, I have always admired your home design style after seeing more and more of it when I became a fan of your ten-item wardrobe fashion style. What I really like is the way you mix your unique family treasures and furniture with practical items (like less-expensive floor coverings) as your family grows through their emerging seasons. Your not-even $150 makeover is fantastic and shows what careful thinking and planning can accomplish. The joy of seeing the finished project must bring you so much joy every time you enjoy that room. Houseplants, fresh flowers and candles are constant accessories in my home. I also like to add a wreath to our side entry gate and on our front door, which is painted black.