colorful cheerful living room
Styling Tips

Add Character To Your Home

Updated 4/21/2018

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.

Add character with molding around doorways
Photo by Driven By Decor

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.

Add character to your home with crown molding
Photo by JBM Architect

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.

built in room divider to add character to a home
Photo by Rooms for Rent

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.

built in mudroom to add character to your home
Photo by Fab You Bliss

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!

Install tile backsplash to add character to a home kitchen
Photo by HGTV’s Fixer Upper

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. If your budget is super tight and your DIY skills are lacking, you can even go with a peel and stick option like I have in my kitchen here.

sliding barn doors to add character to a home
Photo by House of Turquoise

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 like this one online. They come in one-door panels or french door styles.

replace interior doors to add character to your home
Photo by Ana White

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.

add wood beams and new lighting to give your home character
Photo by Housetrends

Wrap (Or Fake) Beams

Whether you have raised ceilings with exposed beams or not, you can still get this classic traditional 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.

Wood planked shiplap walls to add character to a new house
Photo by The Inspired Room

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!

One great example of shiplapped walls is this Mudroom Makeover by my good friend Megan.

update light fixtures to vintage pieces to add character to a new home
Photo by Hinkley Lighting

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 sconce adds character to a home
Photo by Petite Vanou via Tumbler

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.

My Favorite Character-Packed Fixtures

replace door knobs to add character to a new house
Photo by Sara Becky’s Collaborative Abode

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.

We switched the hardware in my bathroom to vintage glass knobs and it made such a huge difference!

shutters add character to new house windows
Photo by Better Homes and Gardens

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 like this plantation style or build your own from custom 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.

Originally published 6/15/2018

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  1. Amazing! Thanks for this lovely information. This is really wonderful blog i have ever seen. Love to see more post from your side in future.

  2. This is helpful. Thanks for this idea. However, hiring the professional and right contractor is really important because it will surely get the job done right without any accident or damage.

  3. These are all fabulous ideas. I love the globe lights with the crystals over the island. Any idea where I could find?

  4. I LOVE the kitchen countertops!! Is this granite? And if so what color is it. Called?? Please let me know details and where I can get them;) Thank you! Kim

    • Lela Burris

      Hi, that photo is from a lighting company, linked in the photo. They may be able to help you track down the countertops.

  5. What color paint is used in the island for the Wrap (or fake) beams picture? I love it.

  6. Lightings really are my favorite! I don’t know why, but I always find light fixtures very elegant. That Horchow really looks beautiful. I’d like to get myself one but I’ve just changed my lighting so maybe next time HAHAHAH. Anyways, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Lela Burris

      I totally agree with you Mandy! Good light fixtures can instantly change the whole look and feel of a room. And that’s so great that you just changed up the lighting in your house. What kind did you purchase?

  7. Love these suggestions! They’re easy and kind for the budget. I think built-ins really make your home sleek and compact. I chuckled a bit about wrapping foundations beams because I remember one time that I did it and my son just teared it down within a week after noticing that its fake. Great tips!

  8. Being a DIY network member, I often hear the word Character. But, honestly I didn’t know what it is all about. I understood it today.

    • Lela Burris

      So glad this post was helpful to you! Character is such a broad ranged term, but once you understand the dynamic, it’s not hard at all to pull off. 🙂

  9. Great suggestions! I dream of finding that perfect heritage home and giving it a little modern update, but until then I’ll stick to character filled lighting 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  10. All pictures are so beautifull. So lovely post.

  11. great ideas

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