How to Give a Cookie-Cutter Home Some Character (Without Breaking the Bank)

You adore your new-construction home for its clean lines, updated appliances and lack of ghosts. But let’s call a spade a spade: It’s lacking in character. If DIYing faux crown molding isn’t your style (we feel you, girl), consider these eight clever decorating ideas instead. All the old-world charm, none of the old-world plumbing problems.

The Biggest Home Trends Of Spring 2017

add character with paint
Design: orlando Soria; Photo: Tessa Neustadt; Courtesy of Homepolish

Paint Walls In A Rich Matte Hue

There’s a milky, lustrous quality to bold matte paint that both looks super high-end and draws out the texture of the wall beneath. (Helpful even if said texture is fresh drywall.)

add character with curtains
Design: Susanne Fox; Photo: Heidi's Bridge; Courtesy of Homepolish

Give Windows The Royal Treatment

First things first: Spring for proper drapes, rods and finials. And be sure to buy curtains a tad longer than you’d expect, and hang rods four to six inches above windows to make the room appear grander.  

add character with textiles
Design: Ariel Okin; Photo: Seth Caplan; Courtesy of Homepolish

Pick Patterns With History

Time-honored textiles are the absolute easiest way to lend an air of history to your home. Consider options like French toile bedding, Chinese chinoiserie drapes and storied Portuguese azulejo tiles for the bathroom. Pattern shy? Start small with throw pillows and table linens.

add character with art
Design: Candace Rein, Photo: Amy Bartlam; Courtesy of Homepolish

Diversify Your Art

When framing your collection, look to mix and match materials (wood, gilt and white metal cohabitate surprisingly well) and try to mix actual art mediums, too (oil, watercolor, photographs, etc.) for a luxe, layered look.

add character with lighting
Design: Deanna Dewey; Photo: Genevieve Garruppo; Courtesy of Homepolish

Use Ceiling Fixtures Generously

Want to give a room instant class and dimension? Hang some stylish lighting from the ceiling. A chandelier over a dining table, conversation area or hallway defines a space and adds timeless grandeur, no matter the template.

add character with antiques
Design: Tali Roth; Photo: Genevieve Garruppo; Courtesy of Homepolish

Up Your Antique-to-new-furniture Ratio

A general rule of thumb: Have at least one antique piece in every room to anchor it. And if you’re working with an otherwise characterless space, consider amping up that number (think a vintage rug and old farmhouse table).

add character with wallpaper
Design: Kevin Clark; Photo: Sean Litchfield; Courtesy of Homepolish

(finally) Try Some Wallpaper

Admit it: You’ve always wanted to paper a room—and those crisp, blanks walls are the perfect canvas. Today’s huge breadth of wallpaper options includes ultra-budget-friendly and even removable choices (for all you commitment-phobes).

add character with books
Design: Liz Lipkin; Photo: Sean Litchfield; Courtesy of Homepolish

Showcase Your Books

Is your book collection lingering in cupboards, closets and boxes? Pull 'em out and put them on display in a grand bookshelf, artfully arranged on a side table or even neatly stacked on the floor. A library look instantly adds warmth and alludes to the fine character of a home (and its residents), of course.

All images featured with the kind permissions of Homepolish. 


Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.