How to Add Character to Your Home

A prerequisite for any design plan at our studio is that the project must exude character. Being in the business of renovation design and new construction - charm and character in a brand new space isn’t always so easy to achieve. We have a phrase around the office - “New homes need old things and old homes need new things.” We love creating a collected, over-time vibe for our clients. Whether using reclaimed surfaces or vintage fixtures in a new build, or adding modern elements to a historic space, when you combine both old and new things, you add character and uniqueness into your home. Below, we’ve outlined our tried and true steps to add character to your home:



Design: Heidi Caillier Photography: Harris Kenjar


Contrast Trim


Most often, new build houses have lots of white walls that lack depth or character. Trim is usually wide and flat, with a slightly different sheen than the wall it surrounds. Try painting your trim a slightly contrasting color, but keep the finishes matching, to inject a significant amount of charm into your home with little effort or cost. Bonus points for going slightly more bold with your contrasting paint selections!


Add Millwork


Millwork is any decorative trim, casing, or wall treatment made of milled wood to add visual interest (see examples here). This could be anything from trim moulding, chair rails, board and batten, to shiplap. It may feel daunting at first, but these details can be a total game changer in your home. With lumber prices finally coming back down to earth, it’s a great time to explore adding millwork for much needed depth and dimension.



“New homes need old things and old homes need new things." - Julia Miller


Home of Pedro da Costa Felgueiras via House & Garden



Design by j.miller interiors



Try Wallpaper


Wallpaper has come a long way - both in design and application. No longer are you committed to wallpaper for decades to come, with incredible peel and stick options. We love Chasing Paper, a female family owned mid-west company, for their super simple to install peel and stick wallpaper options in fun modern prints. Additionally, Anthropologie has great options that feel a bit more classic, while still holding that modern twist.


Even traditional wallpaper is more versatile than in the past. With the right prepwork from a professional wallpaper installer, old school pasted wallpaper can come down easily without damaging your walls. A few favorite resources for wallpapers that you don’t need an interior designer to access include Farrow & Ball, Rejuvenation, and Hygge & West (another midwest based, female owned business with sustainable practices).


We have a Pinterest board dedicated to our favorite wallpaper patterns linked here for your convenience. Happy shopping!




Design by Mark Cunningham


Source Vintage


We have said this a million times, but adding vintage items to your space is one of the easiest ways to instantly add character to your home. In last week’s High Point Market recap, we shared that attending market reaffirmed our love for vintage pieces - and it’s true. Using vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces is not only a foundation to our design studio, it’s key to making your house feel like a home, not a catalog. The trick to keeping it fresh refers back to our first tip (mixing old and new) and making sure the whole room isn’t entirely vintage.


Replace Your Hardware


Switching up your door knobs and cabinetry hardware will significantly elevate your home’s charm factor. It’s one of the details in design that, if done well, you don’t even notice it. Consider upgrading to solid brass or porcelain knobs for your doors. Even a modern silhouette in a classic material will instantly become more charming. Every day you touch those pieces, they’ll subtly weave more heritage into your home. Pro Tip: Try mixing your metals.



Design by j.miller interiors


Mix Wood Tones


We have had to “sell” this concept to our clients more than once, because instinctively, it feels counterintuitive. The truth is, mixing different wood tones and finishes exemplifies the idea of a collected home. New build construction is more likely to have a cookie cutter feel with everything matching. The best way to combat that is to get comfortable with woods feeling natural, varied, and collected.


Original Artwork


Sourcing artwork is one of the best parts of our job. We work tirelessly to find new artisans, makers, and craftspeople to adorn our interior design projects. Finding a few original pieces not only makes it feel more personable but also art can introduce a wide variety of color and texture into a space. Etsy is a great source for both vintage art as well as direct access to independent artists. Here is a roundup of some current favorites.


Share Your Thoughts