If you watch HGTV or DIY network, you hear the word “character” quite often. The word has such a broad meaning, and these days, it often gets overused which lessens its relevance in home design. Character is what defines your home as a one-of-a-kind building. Something special that makes it stand out from the cookie cutter neighborhood of new builds. Years ago, when houses were made differently than they are now, it was important to builders to include some kind of unique feature to give the house it’s own personality. But newer homes lack these characteristics because they take extra time, effort, and money to install. You don’t need a home built seventy years ago to have character, you just need a little innovation. Here are ten easy ways to add charm to your house without breaking the bank.
1. Add trim to windows and doors. You can go all out with elaborate columns or take the simple route and line them with smooth, basic trim. Trims don’t have to match exactly between windows and doors but they should be cohesive.
2. Add crown molding. Again, these can be very detailed or basic and modern. They add the look and and feel of completion to the room.
3. Use Built-Ins. Just because your house is already finished doesn’t mean you can’t add built-ins. There are tons of tutorials online on how to turn standalone shelving into built-in organization. This pony wall shelf is a great room divider without making it seemed closed in.
Another great use for built-ins is seating. Benches in mud rooms, window seats in kids’ bedrooms, and group seating up against a wall at your dining table are perfect ways to utilize space and add visual interest. You can also build the seat on hinges and use the base for extra storage. It’s a win-win!
4. Install a tile backsplash. Tile comes in so many shapes, colors, and sizes and the latest innovations have made it so easy to install. You can now get them in 12×12 squares attached to mesh backing so there’s no spacing required. A tile backsplash isn’t limited to the kitchen, either. They look fantastic in bathrooms, wet bars, mudrooms, and laundry rooms.
5. Replace interior doors. Barn doors are the latest trend right now, and for good reason. They look great opened or closed and don’t take up as much space since they don’t need to swing out. You can build them yourself or buy a kit online. They come in one-door panels or french door styles.
If you aren’t into the sliding doors, you could always go for the stained look. Most homes’ interior doors are painted, so a stained wood door really gives the house an unexpected wow-factor. Be sure the stain color compliments but doesn’t match the floors exactly if you have hardwood. Too much of one shade takes away from the texture.
6. Wrap (or fake) beams. Whether you have raised ceilings with exposed beams or not, you can still get this classic farmhouse look. If you have metal beams, you can wrap them with wood planks and stain to a color lighter than your floors. No beams? No problem. You can pick up faux wood beams at big box hardware stores. They look real but are a quarter of the weight of an authentic beam and a breeze to install.
7. Paint paneled walls. Lots of older homes were built with wood paneling and when the 90’s came around people were ripping it out right and left to get that clean, smooth drywall look. The paneling is back in again, and this time it’s here to stay. Farmhouses, cottages, and beach houses look amazing with painted wood walls. You can mimic the look by installing reclaimed wood. It’s a great way to recycle, too!
8. Switch out light fixtures. One of the easiest ways to transform a room (besides paint and furniture, of course) is by changing the light fixture. You can make a new build feel a little older by adding a vintage style. Or you can modernize an older home with a sleek, classy chandelier. To create a big impact, replace ceiling light domes in bedrooms and bathrooms with elegant fixtures to create an at-home retreat.
Wall sconces are perfect for highlighting certain areas. Install them over a console table in the living area, flanking both sides of your bed, or accent lighting in the guest bathroom.
Unlike replacing ceiling fixtures, installing wall sconces requires new wiring. Unless you are experienced in electrical wiring, you should hire an electrician for a job like this.
9. Replace hardware. This is one of the cheapest ways to add a special little touch to your home. Changing out doorknobs, drawer pulls, and cabinet handles really make a difference. If your budget doesn’t allow buying all new hardware, a quick coat of spray paint will instantly update old knobs for less than four dollars. Just be sure the paint includes primer and works with metal and plastic.
10. Install Shutters. Shutters aren’t just for exterior windows anymore. Hinged shutters inside your home give it instant character. You can buy them pre-made or build your own for custom size and measurements. They are great in kitchens, dining rooms, and bathrooms.
How do you add character to an otherwise “average” house? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions.