3 Simple Design Tactics to Add Character to Your Home

Architects write home designs on the desk.

Are you tired of feeling like you live in a cookie-cutter house? Does your style and design mirror a thousand other houses in your town? Well, you can finally do something about it — and it’s not as difficult or expensive as you might assume.

3 Tips to Give Your House Character

In previous decades, homes were built to stand on their own merit. If a neighborhood was being built, you were permitted to work with your own architect or builder. If a bunch of spec houses were erected, they all had fairly unique floor plans and unique materials. Diverse architecture and design were appreciated in those days. Today, not so much.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a new neighborhood today where each individual can purchase their own lot and maintain total creative freedom over the design, layout, and aesthetics. Tract houses are the norm. And while they may be cost-effective and quick to construct, they lack character.

But as an owner of a generic tract home where your house and floorplan match a dozen other properties in the neighborhood, there are still things you can do to infuse a little originality into your property.

  1. Replace Hardware

Most homeowners immediately begin thinking about major changes they can make — like ripping out cabinets and countertops or tearing down walls — but sometimes it’s the smallest changes that make the biggest difference. And hardware is one example of this.

Hardware — which includes things like cabinet knobs, drawer pulls, and door handles — makes a strong visual statement. If you still have the cheap builder-grade hardware that everyone else has, it’s time to switch to something that looks a bit more custom.

In most cases, modern yet classic options are best. Avoid going too trendy and stick with simple options instead. It should be sleek and satisfying to the touch.

In addition to aesthetics, you also have to think about function.

“Remember, these are elements of your home that you touch and use every day, so they’ve got to perform,” interior designer Scott McGillivray writes. “Cabinet knobs or drawer pulls that are awkward to grip will frustrate you in the long run, no matter how great they look. And a faucet that’s the incorrect size or style for your sink is likely going to make a mess, even if it looks great. It’s easy to have the best of both worlds, just make sure you pick your pieces accordingly. Every hardware update must make sense!”

2. Upgrade Hanging Light Fixtures

Lighting is another important category. This includes both hanging fixtures and table lamps.

Begin with the biggest lights in the home — the ones that garner the most visual attention. In most cases, this is going to include a foyer chandelier and/or hanging fixtures in the kitchen and dining room.

This is one area where you should feel like you have a license to spend. The difference in quality between a $200 light fixture and a $1,500 light fixture is huge. Inch your budget up a bit and you’ll find really cool options that you won’t find in your basic big box store.

Table lamps provide an excellent opportunity to incorporate eclectic style and crisp angles into your home’s interior design. There’s something about a contemporary table lamp paired with a simple shade that fuses the best of both worlds together in a visually stimulating display.

3. Dress Up the Walls

Nothing screams generic quite like drywall. Look for opportunities to dress up plain drywall with unique elements like beadboard, wainscoting, and molding squares. These are really simple DIY projects that add a unique flare – particularly when combined with a fresh coat of neutral paint.

Accent walls can also totally change the look of a space. Consider doing an accent wall in the living room, kitchen, and/or master bedroom. (It could be as simple as painting one wall a different color than the other walls, or you might add a unique material, such as reclaimed wood.)

Adding it All Up

Stop settling for a generic cookie-cutter home. By thinking strategically about things like lighting, furniture, layout decor, and color, you can change the look and feel of your home. Not only will this increase your personal enjoyment and comfort within the home, but it’ll also enhance your resale value should you choose to sell in the near future. That’s what you call a win-win.