Interior Design

How do I add character to my home?

Adding character to your home can be achieved in a few ways. Let’s explore below…

Window Treatments

There are SO many ways you can elevate the windows in your home. Think about window treatments in two ways: the design should be 1) beautiful and 2) functional. The look and feel of the fabric and hardware should compliment your windows and not drown them out.

You may opt for a type of “shade” such as – roller, solar, woven wood, pleated, or roman. Maybe you’re more into blinds. Many self proclaimed social media designers will say to rip down blinds and shades and opt for drapery because it looks more elegant. But that is simply not functional. There are plenty of stunning blind and shade options out there that are not ugly builder grade slatted blinds. There are modern vertical blinds, wood blinds, and metal blinds. And all of these treatments come in many finish colors and styles! Not to mention, you can and should approach window treatment design in a layered way. Simply put, blinds layered with drapery will provide the functionality you need all while providing a sophisticated look.

Custom drapery is always a solid choice, but this route can be pricey depending on your selected design. Many stores will offer hundreds of fabric colors, patterns and textures. You can line your fabric for more privacy and add rod/rings that tie into the rest of your home’s finishes. There are a few key drapery styles you should be aware of: ripple fold, tailored pleat, pinch pleat, grommet, inverted pleat, goblet, cubicle, and rod pocket. Think of selecting drapery hardware like adding on a necklace and earrings to your outfit. There are more modern options and classic traditional styles. You’ll need to consider things like the diameter of the tubing/ring size, and finish color.  You can also opt for a motorized track or customized traverse rod – this would allow you to open or close your drapery with the pull of a wand!

Vintage Decor

Incorporating vintage decor into your home is something that should be done with intentionality. I repeat, do not go throwing random thrift market items into your home just to add “cHaRaCtEr”. That is not the move. You want to find decorative objects, art, candles, etc. that compliment your existing style and enhance it’s originality. Let’s say you have a Scandinavian style interior. You can add character to the various rooms in your home through vintage decor that falls into that bucket. This seems obvious but it’s really not that simple. Think back to the roots of your core style. In this case, Scandi style. This style is overall minimal, neutral, textural, and inspired by nature. If we keep these key characteristics in mind, we can then search either in person at a vintage store or online for pieces that resonate with these principles. My number one online source is Etsy.  You may also browse Charish or 1stDibs for inspiration. 1stDibs is very pricey but it’s a good place to search for ideas!

Layer, Layer, Layer

Layering items in your home creates depth and visual interest. Here is a simple example – when you layer a throw pillow on top of a sofa, and then add a throw blanket, the space automatically feels cozier. The layered textures truly make a huge difference in the character of the room! You should think about each element as a layer. Have you ever used Photoshop before? Well, each image is an independent layer. But when you combine them, you can visually see how each object plays such an important role.

But you have to be strategic in your approach to layering. What do I mean by this? Each and every object can stand alone independently, but can they come together in a harmonious way? Do the colors compliment and play off of each other? Do the patterns look good together? This is where design principles come into play. I could write an entire blog post on layering because it is truly an art in itself. Styling is so fun to me and it’s truly where I shine as a designer. Here are a few key tips on how to layer a room: start with color, consider the flooring, layer pattern over color, add an area rug, hang art on the walls, don’t underestimate all of your lighting sources, dress up windows, add texture through decor/accessories, and have fun!

Lighting Matters

Lighting creates the mood and overall “vibe” of a space. How, you ask? When you place light in strategic positions, it can create depth, add emphasis and draw attention to areas of the house that you want to highlight. How you balance the light and dark in a space is up to you. You may choose to add downlighting to your wall to showcase an art piece. There are a variety of light sources that fall into 4 main buckets – ambient, accent, task lighting and decorative. I’m sure you’ve heard of recessed lighting, chandeliers, pendant lights, sconces, table lamps, floor lamps, the list goes on. Each fixture provides warmth in it’s own way and they can work together to create an enjoyable atmosphere. Another way to completely shift the feeling of a space is through the warmness (or lack of warmth) of the light bulb itself.

Architectural Details

Often underestimated and ignored, architectural details are the true underdogs! When you walk into a custom home and you immediately gasp, saying “wow!” do you ever wonder why? It’s because the design build team put careful, meticulous thought into the small details – we call these architectural details in the world of interior design. These details may seem minute, but they’re far from it as they help to define the space in a creative way that relates back to the overall design style/vision of the home. Architectural details help to tell a story and truly add character to spaces in a way that unifies the design. Cohesion is what most people take for granted. Once you tour a custom home with lovely cohesion you may not realize the consistency until you step back and look at the bigger picture.

There are really three components to architectural details: function, construction and aesthetics. Some examples are moldings, ceiling details, doors, window trim, and staircases to name a few. See how the arches help to add character to this home? This architectural detail ties back to the Old Spanish architecture inspiration for the home.

Warm up with Wood Tones

Another way you can add character to your house is through the use of organic materials, like wood! There are endless wood tones available that will tie into your home perfectly. By the way, it’s ok to mix wood tones! You just have to do it in a thoughtful way that makes sense for the design style of your home. It’s honestly more interesting when a home has multiple wood tones. You create variety this way. I recommend starting with a base/foundational wood tone that is dominant in the home. Then you can consider the undertone of the wood stain. Is the color warm, cool, or neutral? Do you notice a red hue or maybe a green cast on the wood? It’s always helpful to test out stains in person to see what color works best in your space. Play with contrast in the space as well. This is how you create visual interest and depth in a space. I also recommend thinking about wood in terms of different applications – not just flooring. You can add in warm wood character through the use of decorative objects and textural art as well.

Experiment with Paint Colors

Color has a direct impact on mood. And since the title of this blog is related to adding “character” to your home, we HAVE to discuss the use of color. I have taken multiple color theory classes in my life. Again, I could write an entire book on the psychology behind the brain and color. In a nutshell, you should think about what you want your space to feel like. Do you want the house to feel warm and cozy with a nostalgic vibe to it? Or do you prefer a space that feels luxurious, modern, clean and sophisticated? Determine that feeling first and foremost and then you can select a color palette that aligns with those feelings. If you get tired of the colors in your space, don’t pick one off paint colors that don’t feel cohesive together. You need to approach paint selection in an integrated way. I like to use Canva to lay out my paint colors and see how they jive together. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, just make sure that bold color works with the rest of the home’s color palette.

Hardware Matters

Small details like hardware style can make a big impact. There are so many different styles out there to select from, so why opt for builder grade bathroom pulls when you can elevate your space with unique finds? What types of hardware can you swap out? Bathroom, door, furniture, plumbing, cabinet, window, and curtain hardware just to name a few. Don’t take these hardware pieces for granted because they will transform your home in a subtle way. It’s important to keep the style consistent throughout. If you have hinges that are builder grade, consider swapping them out for a style that matches the rest of your home. I always refer to details like this as the “jewelry” of home. Take a look at the cabinet hardware in the photo below. As you can see, this modern english kitchen design is totally elevated through the use of leather and brass finished pulls! Talk about creating a wow moment.

Enhance the Exterior

So far, we’ve talked about the interior when it comes to adding character to the home. However, the outside is just as important. Especially since it’s the first visual someone sees of your house. The exterior is what creates an instant perception of the home and it should reflect the style inside. How can one add character to the outside of their home? New shutters, window boxes, planters, and front door facelift can all instantly add a cheerful presence to the home. Of course, this can get pricey, depending on the scope of the project, but there are still small wins you can take advantage of on a budget. In fact, completing a few exterior upgrades will help to boost the return on your investment as well. Here are some ideas: power wash the exterior, paint your front door, fix rotting wood, improve exterior lighting, touch up paint, decorate your deck, and invest in better landscaping.

Garden Glow Up

Speaking of exterior improvements, one simple way to add more character to the outside of your home is through the use of greenery! Add color and warmth to your front yard through flowers. You don’t have to break the bank to enhance your garden. Consider incorporating outdoor lighting like lanterns to create a fun mood. The number one tip I can give you, regardless of what outdoor project you decide to tackle, is to remain consistent with your overarching design style. If you landed on a Mediterranean oasis, then your garden should incorporate rich warm tones and stone/brick/terracotta materials – not midcentury modern style elements! Always tie smaller decorative objects back to your north star – the selected design style for your home, and you will not go wrong.

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