When clients are looking for a home or considering designing or building, they all breathe the same word – character. Everyone wants character, yet we seem unsure as to how to input that into a room or a design plan. What constitutes character in a room or a home? What features are necessary to include in our plans to infuse character into a space? Can you only get character in older homes?
The options to add character are endless, fun and generally inexpensive. Next time you have opportunity to visit a tea house or a B&B in an older home, take note or pictures of the items that charm you and see if you can’t insert some of those elements into your space. Lighting is the easy fix; it is a quick project to replace a few lighting fixtures to something with more old world charm and rustic finishes especially in a dining area or over a sink vanity. Replacing door knobs and even door styles which have more raised paneling (Coventry) will lend some character to your home. Consider the new fad in sliding barn doors to give a room division some rustic appeal.
Your kitchen is probably not the country charmer you had once envisioned but take heart, there are many fixes for your boring kitchen. Cabinets can be re painted and antiqued and regular stainless steel sinks can be replaced with large porcelain bib sinks adorned with shapely faucets. Open up a few cabinet areas by replacing doors with glass or wire mesh. Paint the inside of the cabinet with a punch of colour or line the cabinet with barn board or decorative wallpaper and open up the front. Instant fascination!
Trim work always defines a space and adds charm and texture. Replace baseboards and door casings with larger profiles and consider an antique stain finish or even a vintage shade of green or grey using a milk paint with a flat finish. Crown moulding and entire wood feature walls also bring in an element of charm. Don’t overlook the option of wainscoting around walls in dining rooms and bathrooms. Raising this wall treatment up to a 6’ height gives a lovely old world feel and protects your walls in busy areas such as boot rooms and powder rooms, this also raises the eye and helps the room feel taller.
Stone work or brick will add instant character to any home, ask me any day of the week how much I love my brick feature wall in my bathroom! It is something to also consider for kitchen back splashes and even shower or tub surrounds making it feel like you are bathing in a restored warehouse space. There are many tiles available which replicate brick, wood, stone and fabric texture on the market, you no longer need to have a boring white shower surround or kitchen splash.
Character is achievable in even the simplest of homes. Take note, and treat yourself to an afternoon at a charming inn to see which character elements you would like to add into your home. This is one of the most stress free, enjoyable projects you will undertake and you won’t believe how satisfied you will be with the results. Character is just within your reach, grab onto it!
Kim Wyse is a local freelance designer. See her facebook page ‘Ask a Designer’.