In the world of home improvement, there are two camps of people—the renovators and the restorationists. Neither group is definitively better than the other, but the two are very different. Restorationists are generally concerned with revitalizing a space back to its former glory, home restoration is about taking cues from what already exists. Renovators, on the other hand, usually care more about upgrading, modernizing and making a space feel shiny and new. Both are excellent methodologies to take when jazzing up a space and bringing in some serious style.

Today, we’re covering how to add character to your home the restorationist way. With this approach, the pre-existing architecture, the finishes and the history of the place should guide the decision-making. That doesn’t mean never replacing anything—quite the contrary, in fact! It just means making decisions that honor the original quality and aesthetic of the space first and foremost. Here are some of the most impactful ways to add character to your house through home restoration.

  1. Refinishing or Replacing the Floors—The floors are everything when it comes to interior character! Many homeowners are unnecessarily preoccupied with restoration when it comes to flooring and—although plenty of hardwood endures for a century or more and can be beautifully refinished—it’s perfectly fine to replace the flooring when you’re restoring. Just make sure to choose a wood type and finish that honors the original integrity of the home (in other words, don’t choose a trendy slate gray floor for your turn-of-the-century Victorian revival if you want to keep it true to the period).
  2. Adding Some Charming, New Hardware—Want to bring some big style to the kitchen or dining room? One of the easiest and most affordable ways to do that is to install fresh, new hardware. There are plenty of ways you can use your hardware to match the period and style of your home. Of course, if it’s a mid-century oasis, turn your studies to the sleek hardware of the era. If it’s a Tudor, Victorian or Italianate space, go for something more ornamental.
  3. Addressing the Little Things—A sprinkle of character here, a bit of charm there. In many ways, adding character is about sprucing up the details hidden in every nook and cranny of your home. One of the best ways to get ideas on how to revitalize the little things isto head to your local antique or architectural salvage shop. Bins of crystal doorknobs, piles of salvaged banisters, even fully detached mantelpieces. All of these things can be integrated into your home relatively easily to give it a cozy, old-school charm.
  4. Adding Some Decorative Molding—The floor and crown molding really adds a special layer of detail to your environment, acting as the icing on the metaphorical cake. Molding is also a fairly simple way to give a room a period charm, as there are unique shapes, finishes and designs that harken back to certain eras. Refreshing these aspects is also relatively simple and affordable if you buy them pre-made rather than having them made by a carpenter.Adding Some Decorative Molding
  5. Adding Some Wainscoting—In the same vein, you can really dress up a room by adding some permanent wall features. Wainscoting in particular is a lovely way to give the dining room or living room a more formal and decadent feel and to create some floor-to-ceiling character. If you’re not huge on the room-defining nature of wainscoting, consider adding a simple chair rail around the walls for just a bit more definition. Painting it a crisp white will help it pop.
  6. Upgrading Your Light Fixtures—You’d be surprised to see how much swapping out your chandeliers, sconces and flush-mount fixtures can really transform a room. Thankfully, there are many pickers, restorationists and salvagers who collect and refurbish period light fixtures, making it fairly easy to stay within the character and time period of your home. These small, little finishes help you capture a luxurious feel in your space while also boosting its functionality by adding more lighting.
  7. Adding Some Exterior Trim—When it comes to home restoration, the exterior of your home probably matters more than the interior, since it’s quite a bit more difficult to change. With that being said, you can certainly jazz up some personality-devoid exteriors by giving the exterior windows, shutters and trim a fresh new coat of paint. Consider adding a contrast color—such as a pop of gray or black onyour white home—for an interesting look.
  8. Reconsidering Your Landscaping—It’s truly amazing what some well-pruned shrubs and flowering trees can do to bring a space to life. You don’t have to sink a ton into a complex landscape design so long as you focus on the right things. Just remember that, if adding character is your ultimate goal, you should consider what garden upgrades would best suit your home’s architectural theme.Reconsidering Your Landscaping

Infusing Your Personality

So there you have it: From gorgeous hardwood floors to fresh, new light fixtures, it’s easy to give your home a character overhaul, quite literally, from floor to ceiling. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that character is about creating and highlighting the personality of your home, so anything you can do to set it apart from the rest can be chalked up to a win. Get creative with your home restoration and your house will surely win the character contest!

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