Whether you have a large beautiful home, an apartment, or an older fixer-upper, if your interior decor is lacking character it’s missing something special. And by “special”, I mean the unique design features that make your home look interesting, as opposed to a bland, boring space that doesn’t reflect your personality.
But adding character isn’t always easy. It can be hard to come up with ideas that match your budget or DIY skills. So to help you get brainstorming, below are fifteen different ways to add character to your home or living space. Some techniques are more budget-friendly than others and some options may be more suited for when you decide to remodel. Either way, I hope it gets your creative juices flowing!
1) Create an accent wall to make a focal point
Decorating walls can feel daunting due to the huge amount of space to fill, but they are a great place to add interest to boring areas. One of the easiest ways to do so is to create an accent wall. This can be done in several ways including painting one wall a different color, adding contrasting wallpaper to it, or using decor such as shelving and pictures.
2) Add stone veneer or brick to add texture
Stone (or brick) veneer replicates the look of natural stone or brick but is lighter, less expensive, and easier to install. In living rooms, it is often used around fireplaces while in kitchens, it is usually used as a backsplash. More frequently, I’m seeing it used in bathrooms to add interest to walls or to cover built-in bathtubs.
Stone and brick veneer can be applied to multiple surfaces including drywall, plywood, and concrete. And in many cases, they can be attached with adhesive, nails, or screws making it a DIY project for handy individuals.
3) Apply wood paneling to add warmth
Wood paneling is one of the most popular ways I’ve seen to add both texture and warmth to cold-looking rooms. And I’m not talking about the ugly wall paneling that was trendy in the 70s. Today the wood they offer is gorgeous and can be used almost anywhere.
Similar to stone veneer, you can purchase both imitation or real wood paneling. And many can be installed just by peeling and sticking. Making it a great DIY project.
4) Add molding for a sophisticated look
Another way to dress up a wall is to add crown or floor molding. Floor molding (also called baseboard) has the added benefit of preventing damage. Just be careful if you have short ceilings as it tends to make the room look shorter. Pieces of molding may also be purchased and added to doors and walls to imitate the look of paneling or wainscoting.
5) Replace ceiling fixtures
A good place to start with ceiling fixtures is to replace any generic lights you might have. With all the lighting fixtures they currently have out, you can find an amazing selection of flush-mount lighting or chandeliers that will look ten times better. And if you can’t find any light fixtures you like, you can also try adding recessed lighting.
One of my favorite places to find unique lighting is on Etsy, where they have chandeliers similar to the one below. They also have light fixtures and chandeliers made of colored glass, as well as mason jars, for a more rustic look.
6) Paint your ceilings or add a mural for drama
Painting your ceiling a color other than white can be an affordable way to add drama and contrast to a room. If you prefer a more subtle look, paint your ceiling a lighter hue or use the same color as your walls to make the room look taller.
Painting a ceiling on your own can save a lot of money and there are lots of instructional videos on YoutTube to help you out. Just keep in mind that it takes a lot of arm strength to paint a ceiling. And the paint can go everywhere if you’re not careful.
7) Create niches in walls to display decor
Niches are hollowed-out spaces found inside of walls. They are great if you are lacking space and need extra storage or display areas. Niches come in many different shapes and sizes and can be enhanced by adding lighting or painting them a contrasting color. But adding them generally requires the skill of a carpenter and possibly an electrician if you wish to install lighting.
8) Consider wainscoting to break up tall walls
Wainscoting is a series of wood panels generally found on the lower half of walls. It can be a great addition to walls that seem too empty and can even provide extra protection against damage. There are several different styles to choose from and you can paint them to match your other decor.
More frequently I’m seeing wainscoting being used to cover outdated bathroom tile. If you go this route, just make sure to use wainscoting panels that can withstand humidity and double-check they are installed correctly to prevent mold.
9) Replace or modify doors for a lived-in look
Plain interior doors can be replaced with more unique styles like sliding barn doors, antique doors, or doors with glass. If your doors already have glass, you can add interest by replacing plain glass panels with rain glass, colored glass, or other special glass designs. You can also modify your doors by adding wood paneling, antique hardware, or changing their color.
In addition to redoing your current doors, also consider adding new ones to separate and seal off rooms. Doing so may be an investment but it can help you save on heating and cooling costs
10) Illuminate your decor with accent lighting
A fun way to add character to a room is to illuminate the décor you already have. For example, you can put led light strips almost anywhere, like behind your tv or around a piece of art for an attention-grabbing glow.
You can also install lighting to highlight architectural elements like niches or tray ceilings. One of my favorite ways to add lighting is to use wall sconces which are perfect for framing doorways, TVs, and furniture.
You can also try hanging string lights which come in all sorts of unique styles, including the lightbulb set in the above photo.
11) Install an electric fireplace for ambiance
The best thing about electric fireplaces is that they can be placed almost anywhere. So you can finally install a fireplace in your kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom without a huge expense. Many electric fireplaces tend to have a modern vibe to them, but you can also get traditional-looking fireplaces and inserts to place inside your current wood-burning fireplace.
Many electric fireplaces allow you to change the size and color of the flame. And most have the option of turning off the heat feature which is perfect if you want to enjoy the fireplace during warmer months.
12) Install exposed beams for a rustic effect
Exposed beams can give a beautiful rustic effect and bring character to boring ceilings. If your space doesn’t have beams already, you can buy faux wood beams which can be installed on the ceiling or around doorways.
Another way to dress up a ceiling is to apply tiles. Tiles come in all sorts of colors and styles and can be made from several types of materials including metal, foam, and plastic. Many ceiling tiles can be glued and don’t require any special tools to install. Some people even use them to cover up popcorn ceilings.
For those of you with drop ceilings, you can replace plain tiles with decorative ones (specifically designed for drop ceilings) to get a more elegant look.
13) Add table and floor lamps to mix styles
Floor and table lamps are a great way to add character because they are inexpensive and can be moved around to fit your needs. They are also good for showing off your personality since there are thousands of different styles to choose from. Using lamps is also one of my favorite ways to mix different styles, such as putting an industrial lamp among farmhouse decor.
Another way to make your lighting more unique is to change up your light bulbs. Edison bulbs, which are made to imitate the look of early lightbulbs, are huge right now. Personally, I find them to be extra bright. So I recommend checking to see if your bulb and the lighting fixture that holds it is dimmable.
14) Change your flooring to add pizazz to dull areas
When it comes to flooring, changing it up can be on the pricey side. But if you’re planning a remodel or building a house, it’s the perfect time to be creative. If you choose wood flooring, for example, you can set it up in a special pattern like the herringbone design shown below.
With tile and vinyl flooring (as opposed to wood), you have an even greater variety of patterns and colors to choose from. Even if you aren’t very handy, you may be able to install flooring on your own, especially with all of the peel-and-stick options they have out.
15) Add pops of color to liven things up
There are dozens of ways to introduce color to a room that is too monochrome. Try replacing rugs, lampshades, pillows, or vases with similar items in contrasting and brighter colors. You can also add contrasting pieces of furniture or window treatments.