How to Add Beautiful Character to a New Home

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Are you building a new home or renovating your existing one? Check out these simple ideas to add beautiful character and charm to any home!

Does anyone else just love looking at old houses?  For me, just driving through a historic neighborhood and admiring the exteriors alone.  I love looking for unique corbels, pretty colors, original windows and doors, big columns…you name it!

After that, any peeks into the interior is a bonus!

Let’s be honest, though.  While some are lucky enough to make one of these amazing historical homes their own, there are many more of us who just live in regular houses.  Who’s with me?!

A challenge I’ve always taken on is how to take my “regular house” and create a home that is full of charm and character.  Today, I thought it would be fun to show you a few ways that you can add these elements in reasonable and feasible ways (meaning, no heavy construction, just simple DIY ideas).

In addition, we have been working on what is essentially a new build as we took our detached garage and created two rooms.  One side is still a garage/workspace and the other side is our new home office.  While it isn’t complete (yet), we are adding some elements there that give some instant charm and character, even though it is basically a new build!  I’ll give you a peek at that too and maybe it will give you a couple of ideas you can also try!

Are you ready to create some charm and vintage character in your own home?

How to Add Beautiful Character to a New Home or Renovation

Add Character to a New Home or Renovation with Corbels

I love architectural salvage.  Can you imagine the stories these old, chippy pieces could tell?  Most importantly, they can help tell YOUR home story as well!

I use corbels in my regular decorating as bookends or just part of tabletop vignettes.  However, you can incorporate corbels into entrances, doorways, and other openings in your home.

Tip: The hardest part is finding matching corbels.  Since we have two identical openings into our back living and dining rooms, we needed four matching corbels.  One pair is pretty easy to find either online or at vintage shops and antique malls.  However, if you need more than one matching pair, reach out to vintage dealers and shops.  They are usually happy to be on the lookout for you and you can support small business that way too!

How to Hang Heavy Corbels

  • Apply fast-drying adhesive (commonly called “liquid nails”) to the header and door jambs
  • Hold the corbels in place until the glue sets.
  • Reinforce the attachment with a brad nailer.
  • Enjoy!

You can find some gorgeous corbels online:

Add old columns for dramatic character to a new home!

Old columns, typically from porches that are torn down, are getting harder to find.  However, we found a matching pair awhile back that we actually used for a display for a vintage market.  When we were working on this new office space, I thought this pair of columns would be a great way to add some character to a new build.

They were a really deep tan with green under tones; definitely a unique color!  While I don’t typically paint vintage pieces since I love the original patina, these just needed to be bright and fresh.  I love that the matching paint color of the shiplap helps these columns to give the room some subtle character.  They almost blend in, yet, they offer some great dimension and charm.

Robb mounted them on pieces of plywood to make them extra sturdy for this busy room.

Tip: Watch for old columns at vintage markets and antique stores (check the outside parts of the store too, as sometimes the larger salvage is stored outside!)  You can use them in corners of a room, to flank a door opening, or put at each end of a gallery wall for dimension.

Add Character to a New Build or Renovation with Old Trim Pieces

One kind of architectural salvage that I see most frequently at antique shows, vintage shops, and markets are trim pieces.  The straight old door headers can be perfect to mount over a window, incorporate into a gallery wall, or even build it into your existing trim if you are doing a more extensive renovation project.

I especially love to find the large triangle door headers.  They can be pricey, but I got this one for a steal several years ago.  It is a perfect way to add some character to our master bedroom and adds a touch of that blue-gray color that I love too.

You can find great architectural salvage pieces online too.  Keep in mind, they aren’t usually inexpensive, but these are staple pieces that can make great investments into your home.  Most of all, you’re not just throwing money away on a piece of flimsy decor!  These are heavy pieces that will last you forever.

Tip: You can see how we easily hang heavy decor pieces on the wall over on THIS POST.

Use a vintage mantel to add character to a new build!

Nothing draws me in at an antique booth or flea market than a chippy white mantel!  I love decorating mine and even if you don’t have a fireplace, you can still use a vintage mantel to add a lot of character to a new build.  In addition, a mantel makes a great focal point in a room and a pretty spot to decorate!

  • Decorate a mantel for spring on THIS POST!
  • Easy ways to use a mantel in summer decor on THIS POST!
  • How to use vintage items to decorate a mantel on THIS POST!

Use small architectural salvage around your home for big impact!

You don’t have to hang heavy corbels and expensive door headers to get character in a new build!  You can create a lot of charm and interest in your home by using small salvage pieces in your decor vignettes.  

In almost every room of my home, you’ll find a chippy column capital here and a small corbel remnant there.  In addition, perhaps a small trim piece under a favorite candle or laying in a dough bowl for an easy look.  I even have lamps that we made out of a lucky $10 corbel find one time!  (Find the DIY HERE!)

All of these small details add so much character, texture, and charm to our, otherwise, very normal house.

I hope this gives you some fun ideas, sparks a little creativity, and maybe even provides you with a list of fun things to put on your vintage hunting list too!  Old architectural salvage is a great way to give your home a unique, charming look, even when you don’t live in a historical home.  And maybe especially when you live in “just a regular house”, like me!

You can use these pieces in a lot of different ways and restyle them again and again, season after season, in various parts of your home.  Most of all, have fun with it!  Enjoy making your home uniquely yours…maybe with a little help of wooden fragments from the past!

I’d love for you to follow me on social media!  You can find my home decor inspiration on Instagram, Pinterestand Facebook!  











(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Posts on Robyn’s French Nest may contain affiliate links. You can see our full disclosure details here.)

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