Apply a wood-panel look to basic drywall to lend rich depth to your dining or living room. Get creative with the size and shape of the pieces, and choose veneer that complements your furnishings for a light, natural feel.
Get rid of that nondescript stairway railing and install one that better suits your home's architecture. Modern house? Go with steel cable or glass. Traditional house? You can't beat wood or wrought iron -- or a combination of the two.
Rough-hewn ceiling beams (even faux ones) lend old-world charm to any room. Try them in your common areas as conversation starters.
A strategically placed shelf -- complete with handsome support brackets -- is both practical and beautiful.
A natural wood or bamboo floor will last longer than carpet or other synthetic materials and will transform the character of your home's interior. Plus, it won't trap allergens. Can't buy into the hard-surface look 100 percent? Warm your space with machine-washable area rungs.
Ceiling medallions spice up special rooms, and they don't necessarily need light fixtures poking through them. Modern medallions look like plaster but are cast from lightweight polyurethane resin. Install them with finishing nails or glue.
Chrome, steel, copper, brass: these are just a few finishes that give your ceiling, walls, or kitchen backsplash a look that recalls rural eating establishments of the early 20th century. A plethora of patterns exists, too. You can put individual tin squares on drywall, plaster, or drop ceilings. If you install the tin yourself, use cone-head nails so you are less likely to pound them through.
Want something more inspiring than standard 1x4 trim? Try decorative, patterned molding with mismatching head (top) and corner blocks. Even a subtle pattern is a step up.
From cabinet doors to the front door, you'd be amazed at the difference new hardware can make, especially on regal doors paired with subpar handles. There are many choices, including glass, shiny brass, and faux-rust finishes. It's up to you to find a look that matches your home.
Wainscoting serves two purposes: It protects the lower portion of a wall (particularly nice if you live with young children) and provides the nostalgic look of traditional American homes, especially farmhouse or Cape Cod styles.
Like a fresh coat of paint, a new set of interior shutters or curtains can transform a room from blah to beautiful. Do a little research to determine appropriate colors and styles for your home's architecture.
Windows should complement your home's style and massing. Many modern homes minimize trim and push the envelope when it comes to shapes and sizes. Vertically scaled, traditional homes should have appropriate windows -- taller than they are wide. A Prairie-style home, though, should have horizontally scaled windows, or at least vertical casement windows placed side-by-side for a horizontal look.
Craftsman houses are known for sturdy porch posts, sometimes with bases surrounded by river rock. If that doesn't fit your budget, simply surround small-scale posts with layers of cedar planking until they project a sufficiently hefty appearance, then paint them to complement your color scheme.
If your house looked better before the previous owners remodeled, study its architecture and renew its details. For example, Victorian homes often are victims of overzealous remodelers. For an authentic look, replace missing ornamentation (scalloped shingles and finials), and repaint with appropriate -- and vibrant -- color combinations.
Got a ranch house? Dress it up with a boxed-out or bay window, or add a bumped-out room to break up the facade and give your home a lively look.
A balcony is a nice addition to almost any home, as long as it's fashioned to blend seamlessly into the existing facade. Even a small balcony can provide enough room for a moonlit nightcap.
Widen your front entry and install double doors. Or French doors. Or sidelights. For added appeal, try a half-round or stained-glass window above the entry.
Most aging roofs are prime candidates for an upgrade to metal. Metal roofs complement almost every American architectural style, and they're lighter, more durable, and more sustainable (they're recyclable) than any other type of roofing. Consider, too, cool metal roofing, which is covered with special pigments and high-tech coatings that reflect the sun's rays and can cut the average air-conditioning bill by 20 percent.
If you have a single, boring garage door facing the street, reframe the opening and install two separate doors. If your home has a wood exterior, use wood garage doors and paint them the same color as your siding so they're less conspicuous.
Replace vinyl siding with genuine wood clapboard to add enduring character. Or try fiber-cement siding, which looks like wood but holds paint better and is impervious to rot. Insects won't gnaw on it, either.