‘Character’ – you’d be forgiven for being confused as to what this elusive term means. Ask to be shown around any apartment or home by a realtor and they’ll likely find some way to slip that word in there.
Over time you might wonder if this is an actual real definition with valid use for a property – or if it’s simply a marketing buzzword you didn’t receive the memo about.
After all, those who sell things for a living are usually quite good at finding punchy, evocative words that seemingly add value to a product despite seemingly being pulled out of thin air.
However, you needn’t worry here. Character is a real definition, and you can come to a real understanding as to what that means. But still, even if you understand it’s that which makes a property unique and helps said building holds its own identity – you might wonder if this is simply something that grows – or if you can make use of it yourself.
Can a modern building ‘have character?’ Or can you apply it within your interior decor and renovation plans?
To chart our way through these muddy waters – let us provide some worthwhile advice.
Ways to Add Character to Your House
1 – Don’t Overthink It
The first step on this journey is to ensure you’re not overthinking things. If you do, you can start to make brash decisions that only distract from your original goal. You might consider more expensive work than you actually need to enjoy the final effect you may be looking for.
But of course, money isn’t the only thing you might waste in your approach to add character to a home. Sometimes, less is more, and this can save you time forcing something to happen that may happen naturally.
Consider a show home compared to a familial home. They are both identical in their basic layout. Which one would have more character? Well, usually the one that feels more lived in.
Sometimes age allows the character to build, through the natural means of living in it. However, simply thinking ‘it will happen in time’ might not help you feel comfortable when desiring something new, and something to express. For those reasons, we would also recommend you consider adding warmth with reclaimed woods, like this mantel.
2 – One Fixture At A Time
Instead of tearing out the walls of a home and rebuilding from scratch to replicate a certain style, why not simply focus on one change at a time, and go from there?
After all, a room isn’t given character simply because it’s stuffed with antiques and historical pieces. Perhaps simply designing a unique fixture of the room could be your best bet.
For example, let’s say you have a fireplace design that looks nice, but is fairly standard in terms of its application. It might be that you have a digital fireplace that both heats and provides a clear image of a fire, and you can change the colors of said artificial flame to suit the mood here.
This fireplace might be functional (adding heat) and eye-pleasing. But it might be that changing the character of the fixture itself could change the character of a room.
Might it be that having the chimney unblocked, renovating the exterior of the fireplace for safety and ensuring a comforting modern stove is put in can help the function of the fixture return – allowing you a new utility and visual motif you might not have had before?
3 – Do function and utility not also contribute to character?
While this example serves as an illustration, we would also like to use a small metaphor to further elaborate how this can apply from room to room.
Consider you are watching a television show, and you have a favorite character. You like the person because of their behavior, their performance, their virtues or character quirks. Without these descriptors and mixture of good and bad personality traits, you do not believe them to be real, and as such do not feel connected to the character.
Let’s use that ‘character’ term to now consider your room. Just like a television figure without personality density, your room can also feel hollow should you not ensure the fixtures are attended to in this way.
Character is not built in a vacuum. It does not happen automatically, even with our aging example. For this reason, small changes build up to a cohesive whole, and will leave an overall impression. Even the placement of lighting, the navigability of the floor space, and the height of the ceilings can have an effect.
Perhaps a room layout would be much more akin to a bedroom rather than an office, and vice-versa. Considering all possibilities can help you once again commit to the authorship of your home, much like a writer trying to depict a relatable character.
4 – History
In that last segment, we suggested that simply bringing in antiques to a home is not quick shortcut to building character, but does that mean you should disconnect yourself from history? Well, not if you enjoy it. In fact, there are many fantastic means of bringing history into your home without hamfisting it. You needn’t have a 10 foot oil-painting lining your corridor or a showpiece cannon on your dining room table to be appreciative of your historical interests.
One of the most pressing examples of this? Reclaimed wood. Learning where to find reclaimed wood can both help your home look fantastic, and not only that, but can be crafted to your needs.
For example, it might be that having a table fashioned out of a historical church door, varnished, and cared for can provide a wonderful conversation piece, allow for a truly custom piece of furniture – and not only that, but it’s subtle. It might be that you use reclaimed wood to line your door arches or window sills.
But of course, reclaimed wood needn’t have an extensive or prominent history behind it. Simply having furniture re-purposed or re-imagined can help items you wanted to throw away still retain their value in your home, through another form. Now that’s a history you cannot buy outright.
5 – Decorate Yourself
Sometimes, you can buy new items, source historical desirable pieces, or have professional work done. While nice, you might find it does not fill the need you have. This is where the idea of adding character can break down a little.
Should we define decorating success by the items we can find in a store or online? Of course, there’s no real ‘right’ answer here, only that which you hope to express.
But if you ask us, it shouldn’t be the only way you deserve to enjoy your home. You are allowed to decorate some or all yourself, you know. It might be that refurbishing a dresser by painting designs onto it can help it gain that custom touch.
Perhaps you wish to paint an old table light blue and have it miniaturized to a fixture more appropriate for a coffee table. Perhaps you wish to create a family mural against one of your walls, and apply yourself tastefully to that space. Character is what you make of it, and what makes you happy.
The Takeaway: Character Celebrates Your Life, Or The Life Of Your Family Unit
What good is a home if it cannot help you express that which you’re proud of?
It could be that simply finding a place to celebrate your child’s sporting trophies, your trips around the world, or a photo wall dedicated to memories you wish to keep hold of can help you feel connected, comfortable and down to earth on your personal journey.
With these tips, you’re sure to correctly add character to your home. But most of all, you’ll know what that means in the first place.