How to Add Architectural Character to Your Home

eclectic style blue dining room
Photo: Tria Giovan

Add charming architectural details to your home with these eye-catching updates for ceilings, walls, doors, and more.

01 of 16

Panel Walls with Board and Batten

white bedroom wall panels vaulted ceiling blue coverlet
Dana Gallagher

Unadorned walls are a blank canvas. Look for opportunities to add architectural character with molding. Here, a modern twist on board-and-batten turned this once-boring bedroom into an eye-catching retreat. Inexpensive trim pieces can be cut to size to fit your dream configuration.

02 of 16

Incorporate Wood Beams

kitchen with green cabinets and wooden beams
James Nathan Schroder

Take advantage of extra vertical height by capturing the look of hand-hewn barn beams. These dark-stained wood beams lend a rustic touch to a neutral kitchen. The sturdy reclaimed beams prevent the space from looking washed out and create a cozy, lived-in feel despite the tall ceiling.

03 of 16

Update Walls with Beaded Board

black white bathroom double vanity gold mirrors herringbone subway tile
Nathan Schroder

Create visual interest with wainscoting, which comes in many different patterns to suit any style. Beaded board adds a cottage persona. When installing wall panels in a damp area, such as a bathroom, consider using imitation products made of durable materials, like fiberboard, that won't rot or warp when exposed to moisture.

04 of 16

Add a Ceiling Medallion

eclectic style blue dining room
Tria Giovan

Distinctive lighting is a key element of many room makeovers. Make a dynamic light fixture more dramatic with a glamorous ceiling medallion. These easy-to-install features are a stunning, effective way to lend prominence to chandeliers and pendants around the house.

05 of 16

Swap Out Interior Doors

white farmhouse bath with sliding barn door
Jason Donnelly

Spice up transitions between rooms with beautiful interior doors. Today's wide range of colors, shapes, and styles offers versatility within every decor style. This conversation-worthy sliding barn door with chipped paint hides a powder room, while keeping the adjacent narrow hallway bright and accessible.

06 of 16

Upgrade Your Staircase

entry stairway red rug white door
Joyelle West

Update your entryway with a well-designed staircase. To give your stairs a simple facelift, consider replacing the newel (the vertical support at the center of a circular staircase or the post that supports a handrail at the bottom of a straight staircase) to anchor the landing. For budget-friendly character, use the power of paint to give stair treads and railings a fresh face, and you'll have an upscale look on a dime.

07 of 16

Transform Cabinets with Trim

gray shaker kitchen cabinets stone backsplash
Michael Partenio

Roll up your sleeves and upgrade kitchen cabinets in a big way with molding. This treatment works for both wood and laminate cabinets, but the secret to a convincing look is to make the molding appear integrated. You can use either basic or decorative versions to create your desired style. If a DIY project isn't for you, but you want to give your cabinets fresh appeal, consider refacing them.

08 of 16

Create a Window Seat

mint green built-in book nook window seat roman shade trim pillows
John Bessler

A classic window seat provides the perfect opportunity for both comfort and storage. Kitchen cabinets transformed into seating make for a quick, inexpensive solution to a lack of architectural character. Add shelving to either side to store books and display favorite mementos.

09 of 16

Install Picture Molding

living room area with pale blue walls and molding
Tria Giovan

Dress up wide-open wall space with decorative molding. Suggest panels by applying thin strips to walls. This technique, known as picture framing, is an easy way to emphasize artwork. For a bold look, paint the inside of the frame a different color.

10 of 16

Add Built-In Storage

white cabinet hallway with red rug
David Tsay

Transform a blank space into a hardworking storage hub with built-in cabinetry. If custom woodwork isn't in your budget, consider freestanding furniture pieces. Store-bought cabinets and bookshelves can be installed as built-ins with the help of some clever trimwork.

11 of 16

Define the Fireplace

living room with fireplace
Michael Partenio

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter fireplace. Trade it for a head-turning design that reflects your personality. Easily installed tiles achieve the beauty of dry-stacked natural stone for a fraction of the cost, and weight, of the real deal.

12 of 16

Embellish with Corbels

rustic dining room wood floor daylight
Nathan Schroder

Corbels, a decorative bracket made from stone, wood, or metal, add an instant stamp of personality to any space. Consider adding them to an entryway to soften the transition between rooms, or use them under a kitchen island or to hold up open shelves.

13 of 16

Eye-Catching Entryway

arch art dining room wallpaper
Werner Straube

Add interest and texture to your doorways with trimwork. Define arched doorways with detailed trim to create graceful entrances throughout your home.

14 of 16

Furniture-Style Features

Parisian-inspired kitchen space wood top island
Stacey Brandford

Make your kitchen feel more like a living space by adding furniture-style details. Decorative carved legs or feet on an island or details at the bases of cabinets give kitchens cozy character. Continue the look with a range hood that mimics the shape of the trim details.

15 of 16

Overhead Treatment

coffered ceiling with white trim and blue paint
Michael Partenio

Don't forget to look up when designing your space. In this kitchen, a coffered ceiling stands out thanks to a contrasting blue-and-white color palette. Adding trimwork or ceiling beams to a space with a high ceiling can make it feel more welcoming.

16 of 16

Rethink a Range Hood

white cabinetry with gold accents and marble backsplash
Polished brass on hardware, plumbing fixtures, the range hood, and modern light fixtures furthers the room’s glow. Adam Albright

Don't let a clunky range hood be an eyesore in your kitchen. Blend it into the rest of the room with decorative appliqués and trim that mimic the surrounding cabinetry.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles