Do you love a cookie cutter house or are you desperate for a home with more character? No matter what you live in, here are 10 ways to create a place that is uniquely yours. Let me share how to add character to your home.
Sometimes it takes someone else to point out your strengths, in order for you to see them. I was at a blogging conference earlier in the year and a dear friend kindly said to me, “you are really good at adding character to a home“. Truth is, I didn’t know that about myself. It’s something I’ve always strived to do, but it was done instinctively as a result of the yearnings to have a home like no other. I really appreciated her compliment.
But it got me thinking . . .
WHAT EXACTLY IS HOME “CHARACTER”?
There are phrases related to this topic that are commonly used, often with quotations around the word “character”. For example, when I saw my son beat on his furniture with a toy hammer, rather than being too upset I told my husband it added “character”. Well, there are many ways to add character to a home that don’t involve nicks and scrapes.
It’s more about infusing your preferences and personality into your home, so it doesn’t look like any old builder grade home – even if it might actually be one. It’s about making a space feel lived in and curated over time. It’s about conversation starters, meaningful items, and one-of-a-kind spaces.
DO YOU WISH YOUR HOME HAD MORE CHARACTER?
I know many of you wish your home was a better representation of you and the things you love. I’ve spent some time dissecting my designed spaces and picking out certain elements that do give our home unique character. I hope these 10 ways to add character to your home will help you rethink your spaces and create a home that speaks to you.
10 WAYS TO ADD CHARACTER TO A HOME
1 – ITEMS WITH HISTORY
If you feel overwhelmed by 10 ideas, ignore the other 9 and focus solely on adding a sense of history to your home. This can be done in many many ways such as;
- Decorate with an era or geological location in mind (ie. French Provincial, Colonial, Western Farmhouse)
- Shop at Antique stores for decor or furnishings
- Buy items that look old or are authentically old
- Refinish wood or paint and chip to look old
Basically, you want to be able to say, “I found that at . . . ” or “No, I don’t have a link for that”.
Go for items that tell a story versus found in a JCPenny magazine (wait . . . do they make those any more?)
For example, I found this antique desk and topped it with marble for our vanity.
This beautiful antique german sleigh bed that I opted to paint and chip up.
An old cubby box used to store my stationary.
A home full of character is a home full of history.
*Not interested in a home filled with old stuff? Don’t be afraid to mix new with a bit of old, like this new outdoor furniture with only 1 old coffee table.
2 – FAMILY TREASURES
Help the whole family feel at home with things that speak to them.
- Vacation mementos
- Seashells from a beach trip, linens, a beautiful flower vase from (you name it)
- A doily from great grandma, treasured china, a past down recovered chair, even items that may just remind you of ancestors.
- Different from heirlooms, keepsakes are the items that are special to you. A Christening dress, a favorite doll, a tattered blanket or book from your childhood.
- Meaningful gifts
- Display those items that someone bought just for you, because they thought you would like it. An wooden box, a clock, a cozy blanket, a book or magazine
- Personalized art
- Why spend a fortune on renowned art, when you or your loved ones can create an image that will mean so much more to you. A old black and white photo, a framed recipe in their handwriting, your own photography, or frame those kids creations to make the wee ones feel really special.
- I love to collect old quilts and china and put them on display. Try collecting old baskets for function and beauty, linens to repurpose, or items in the same color family.
3 – DO-IT-YOURSELF
Our home is probably 80% DIY – and I love it that way! It’s my favorite thing to say “We made it”. Can’t find exactly what you envision? Make it!
A piece of furniture to fit your exact dimensions.
A headboard from my dreams.
A tray turned side table.
A blanket with dreamy ruffles.
A bench made from old wood.
An outdoor hutch made from old shutters and a table the exact size we needed it.
4 – THRIFT SHOP
The thrill of the hunt! There is nothing quite like it when you find just what you were looking for at an incredible price. Great things to thrift are:
- furniture that might need a little love
These shots highlight some of my favorite thrifted finds.
5 – MISMATCHED FURNISHINGS
I can remember as a girl walking the furniture store with my mama. You didn’t just shop for a nightstand, or a bed, or a dresser – it was the whole kit and caboodle. Everything HAD to match. Fear not my little flock, there is no need to slap down thousands for a bedroom set.
Take your time to curate the items that speak to you and find the best bargain. Then thoughtfully mix and match them to have your room explode with character.
The best part of this decorating method is that things can move around in your home and refreshing a space can be completely free and fun. Go with a common theme or style throughout your home and items will move seamlessly.
6 – ASSYMETRY
It’s funny that I am going to bring my mom up again, because apparently we have completely different styles. Her home was always beautiful and tidy, by the way. I do remember her always craving symmetry. If it was over there on the mantle, it also had to be over here. Her house and landscaping was perfectly symmetrical. I however, find asymmetry so interesting to look at. Don’t be afraid to purposefully unbalance decor on shelves and in room layouts. It’s another way to bring a more curated look to your home.
7 – PHOTOS
Admittedly, I’m bad at adding family photos to a home, but it’s the homes with loved ones on the walls that warm the soul. Let’s make it a yearly goal to display our greatest blessings for all to see. What better way to bring in your own personality and character to your home?!
8 – WALL TREATMENTS
Most kinds of builder grade homes have all the same wall treatments. Now I’m a firm believer you can still infuse your home with character without touching the wall treatments, but if you have the option to add a little somethin’ somethin’ – definitely do it. Just some beadboard made this room transform.
If you don’t want to change all the walls, look for an accent wall and change it up with some molding, wallpaper, shiplap . . . so many options.
9 – OPEN SHELVING
I’ve had some heated discussion on this blog about open shelving, and most folks either hate it or love it. But hear me out. Just the smallest amount of displayed storage in a home can add a touch of character. Use bookshelves, built-ins, kitchen shelves, bathroom shelves – any kind of shelf – to add some decorative and functional decor. You are going to need them to display those treasures, heirlooms and keepsakes any way. If you can’t help but think of that home you saw with an overabundance of dusty trinket’s and nick knacks, that’s not at all what I’m talking about. Do it minimally and beautifully and your open shelves will serve you through every season.
10 – ELEMENT OF SURPRISE
Finally, I think every room should have some kind of element of surprise. Something that makes visitors stop and stare and wonder at the creative use of such items.
For example, a giant chalkboard on the wall.
The use of a bench as a magazine holder.
Just one colored stool.
A giant Fall tree in the living room.
These kinds of surprises are what will unleash your creativity and really make your space memorable.
I hope you enjoyed hearing my thoughts on the topic!
Will you please share in the comments below the kinds of things you’ve added to your home to give it character? I’m sure I’ve missed some great ideas you might have and I would love to hear them! If you do struggle with this aspect of decorating, will you help me understand what obstacles stand in your way. I hope I didn’t leave you overwhelmed!
Thank you so much for being here today!