Building Tips

Seven Ways to Add Character to a New Build

Do you ever wish walls could talk? As I’m walking through an older home this is always going through my head. I can’t help but think about all the stories an older home could tell us. I sometimes can even imagine it so clearly in my head of all the great memories that were created in a historic property.

Henry and I have always had a love for older homes. So much, so that we even bought a 1950s flip house in the historic district of our own town. I have to say, this one was hard to let go of when it sold. It was very outdated but displayed so much character with its bountiful builtins, detailed moldings, and rustic appeal. With updating this home, we left all the details that gave the home its charm, while giving them an up-to-date finish. This made for a perfect combination.

While newer homes are sometimes less problems and probably the best choice when purchasing a home for your family, there is just something missing. It’s very challenging to get that same feeling or even come close.

Because Henry and I love the historic charm and character, we always try to include it in a new build as much as possible. But we also like to keep things clean and minimal. I think it’s such a cool look when you can have that perfect blend of new and old.

For our new build, we are trying to really achieve the old cottage look. This will be a challenge, but I think we have an idea of how we will make this happen. There are seven ways we are going to share that are helpful in trying to create this look and feel. We will be using several of these ourselves in the upcoming weeks.

Trim & Mouldings

Older homes are normally abundant in trim with lots of detailed mouldings. It is obvious they didn’t go skimpy in this area back in those days. Most of the time the fireplace, stair railings, ceilings, and doors were massive with their thick trim.

Henry and I do not go this excessive with the trim, but we do like it thick and chunky. One place we always go big is on our baseboard. We normally go with a 7-inch base in height due to our taller ceilings. We also try and add larger trim around all doors. Another place we love to add detail and molding is around the fireplace. In older homes, a fireplace was a great place to display lots of craftsmanship.


Built-ins are so important for adding character to a new home. I don’t think I have ever walked into an older home I loved that didn’t have some good builtins. Built-ins can go in any room, but the most common would be a den, living room, office, or kitchen.

Design By: Studio McGee

Builtins are a very affordable way to add charm and could even be accomplished by a DIY. Builtins for the den or living room would work great beside the fireplace. For an office, they could even run the entire length of a room. In a kitchen, you could do them on an empty wall or even add some shelves above the cabinetry.


Brick is always a way to add character. You can achieve this on the interior of your home by adding a brick accent wall or brick pavers. Topping it off with a messy mortar finish will give it the old charm that is perfect.

As you have noticed if you have been following along with us, we are actually thinking about doing a mortar or lime wash with stumbled brick for our new build. We are trying to achieve an older, timeless look on the exterior as well.


Using vintage, rustic hardware is another great option for bringing in an older feel. Adding vintage doorknobs or even rustic hardware to vanities and kitchen cabinets can make a huge difference. This is a subtle way to give the home an older look. Pairing the old with the new is such a cool look!


For years I have been scared of wallpaper, but it is for sure making a comeback. Wallpaper is a wonderful way to add character without the expense. With so many patterns and designs to choose from, you are sure to come across some that create the charm you need. Sometimes you don’t even have to do the entire room, an accent wall will work just the same.

Natural Materials

The doors for our new house.

Anytime you can use real materials it will add character. But when it comes to this, you have to pick and choose where to spend your money because natural materials are always more money.

For example, we always use real wood entry doors. Even though fiberglass doors have come a long way, there is still just something about real wood that can’t be replicated.


Lighting is another place to add character to a new build. With the wide variety of lighting available, it is easy to choose a unique fixture with lots of character. This is always such a focal point and an asset to any home. Light fixtures allow a home to have a cozy feel while adding the charm it needs.

There are many other ways to add charm and character into new build like rustic beams, shiplap accent walls, or even reclaimed items such as a door. All of these things together can help achieve that old historic vibe. In my opinion, mixing the old with the new makes for the perfect home.

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

No Comments

Leave a Reply