Is there a way to easily feature and have certain products appear on the home page of the out-of-the-box luma theme in magento 2?
Or is that totally a custom built thing?
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you could add a products_list widget to the homepage. In the widget you can define conditions which products are shown (for example products of a specific category)
To do this, you cann add a new widget instance of the Products List widget under Content -> Widgets.
When creating a new Widget, you first have to choose the Widget type and the theme where you want it to be inserted.
In the next step you can define the widget instance and its options. To show it on the homepage you have to add a new layout update with specific page -> Home Page and then choose a container, for example main content top.
After clearing the cache it should show on the homepage