By Kelly McCall Branson

You’ve found your dream home, and now you want to really make it your own — to give it your own personal stamp. Triangle builders are responding to your heart’s desire, with more and more offerings to individualize the home you buy. And fortunately, with a few simple changes, even novice do-it-yourselfers can add character to any home, without breaking the bank.

Curb appeal is the first step to making your home stand out from the crowd. In fact, at Wendell Falls, developer Newland Communities has put systems in place to ensure a diverse streetscape. “Every home built at Wendell Falls has to go through approval by the Design Review Committee,” says Kelly Talbot, marketing manager for Newland. “This is to make sure that elevations and even colors are not duplicated in house after house on the street.”

One of the builders at Wendell Falls likewise offers homebuyers a wide range of choices within their plans. “We have curated 13 different interior and exterior packages with three separate tiers,” says Wendell Falls Builder Representative, Allison King. “Whatever your tastes — classic chic, cigar bar, farmhouse — you can express it.”

Sprucing up doors is possibly the easiest path to jazzing up your home’s first impression. Replace boring front doors with more interesting raised panel or full or part glass doors or even just paint the door a more intense shade for an unexpected pop of color. Garage doors are another big bang-for-your-buck upgrade. Spending a little extra for more interesting faux carriage or stainless and glass garage doors will instantly add oomph to your curb appeal.

If you want to go a little further, changing out some key sections of your siding, like gable detailing or porch walls, to shake shingles or stone veneer will create an interesting contrast. Or you can wrap plain porch columns in milled wood or create stone piers for a more custom look.

Of course, landscaping is a great way to express yourself. All about sustainability? Xeriscape your yard with native drought-tolerant plants. Or plant an English-style cottage garden. Sometimes, just one strategically placed statement specimen is all it takes.

Make Your Walls Sing

Blank, bare walls have nothing to say. If you want your home to make a statement, start with your walls. The easiest remedy is intense color. Ditch that builder beige for a rich slate gray, a vivid plum or a soft luminous lilac. Consider a bold contrast color for trim. “One builder paints their trim a deep gray in their Wendell Falls homes,” says Talbot, “for a really distinctive pop.”

And don’t overlook wallpaper as a great tool for achieving drama. Wallpaper has come a long way from your grandma’s dining room, with myriad easy-to-install selections in virtually every style, from Mid-Century Modern geometrics to white-washed beach-cottage pastels to hand-painted looking murals. Deeply embossed, paintable anaglypta wall coverings can add textural interest in a monochromatic color scheme — especially suitable for Craftsman style homes. Wall decals are a super simple way to make a statement. Whether it’s a particular quote or an intriguing little flourish, these gems can be installed in minutes, on key walls, over passageways, even customized lettering on a powder-room mirror.

Really step up your wall game with molding. A wider baseboard instantly transforms a room from ho-hum to luxe. “At Saddlebrook, we install seven and a-quarter inch trim standard,” says Karla Carson, marketing director for Shenandoah Homes. “We feel like trim is so important to the finished look of a home.” The same goes for trim at the ceiling. Adding crown molding gives the space a more polished appearance. Likewise, installing more substantial casing around doors and windows ups the custom look.

adding character

Photo courtesy of Wendell Falls

Don’t stop there. The vast array of molding shapes and sizes can be used on virtually any wall, anywhere. Wainscoting in the dining room makes a strong statement. Combine a chair rail with beadboard or picture frame molding for a custom-milled look. Picture-frame molding is a great way to add architectural interest throughout the home: huge rectangles behind a bed, interlocking squares going up a stairwell.

Really pump up the interest by creating a focal-point wall with shiplap wood paneling or faux brick or painted brick veneer. Play with combining all of the above for a truly unique look. Wallpaper black-and-white stripes over a matte-black beadboard wainscoting. Install cherry blossom wallpaper inside a row of picture framed squares. Be bold! This is your chance to express yourself and the sky really is the limit.

Molding and trim can pack a big punch on ceilings too. Build out a coffered ceiling in a dining room or den, or add faux cedar-wrapped beams to a great room. “Playing with different textures and colors really adds character,” says Shenandoah Homes’ Carson. “At Saddlebrook, we did a tray ceiling inset with reclaimed wood.”

It’s the Little Things

Sometimes one little change can transform an entire room from anonymous forgettability to look-at-me WOW. Swapping out a humdrum ceiling fixture is just such a high-wattage change. Splurge on something big, bold and unexpected for the dining room. Install a vintage chandelier in the kitchen. And don’t settle for boring overhead lights in the bedrooms or master bath either. The same goes for wall sconces to dress up — and shed light on — a particular point of interest.

adding character

Photo courtesy of Shenandoah Homes

Doors are another quick and easy way to up the interest ante. Replace flat hollow-core doors with raised panel doors or, where applicable, glass doors — French doors to a patio, etched glass for a closet, riced glass into a dining room or pantry. Barn doors, with their substantial hardware and distinctive rolling action, make a big statement in any room.

Or if you can’t replace doors, turn to paint and molding to add visual interest. Use molding to frame out faux panels and paint your doors an unexpected color. Replacing standard door knobs for more substantial levered handles or antique glass knobs gives a distinctive look.

Upgrading the hardware and fixtures in your bathrooms can work wonders to personalize those rooms as well. The choices available now in cabinet pulls are truly astounding, from hand-hammered looking steel to sleek stainless to faceted glass. And the same goes for faucets. A striking faucet can make a powder room. Turn again here to molding to frame out a mirror for a custom look.

One of the most surefire ways to add character to any room in the home is installing some salvaged architectural element. A reclaimed beam as a fireplace mantle. Vintage glass doorknobs. Repurposed wood planks for shiplap paneling. Visit a local builder salvage warehouse and you’re sure to find a one-of-a-kind item that speaks to you.

And if your budget’s already a little stretched, the nice thing about swapping out lackluster light fixtures, doors, and hardware is you can make your changes a little at a time.

Customize Your Kitchen

You don’t have to spend a fortune to add some panache to your kitchen. “Just adding a little drama with something like a deep blue tiled backsplash can make all the difference,” says Shenandoah Homes’ Carson. “And you can carry that theme into other rooms as well. Paint the powder room vanity that same vivid blue.”  Create drama by upgrading your sink to a zinc sink or an aproned model, or replacing a standard faucet with a statement model, like a super-tall commercial style faucet.

“Extending cabinets to the ceiling and finishing them with a valance and crown,” says Wendell Falls Representative King, “is a relatively inexpensive way to achieve a custom, built-in look.” Change out your upper cabinet doors for glass doors — all of them or just a few key doors. “I’ve even done chicken wire doors for a farmhouse kitchen,” says King. Or forego wall cabinets altogether and install floating shelves to display glassware and dishes, for a truly up-to-the minute look that suits a farmhouse style as well as contemporary. And just like the bathroom cabinets, replacing knobs and pulls can jazz up the look of a kitchen too.

adding character

Photo courtesy of Wendell Falls

Dressing up an uninspiring island can transform the whole kitchen. Clad the back with reclaimed shiplap planks or picture-frame molding. Add decorative legs for a more furniture-like look. Paint the island cabinets a contrasting color to the rest of the cabinets, or add interest by installing a contrasting counter in a honed (matte) finish.

One caveat King cautions when seeking to add character to your home: “Always stay true to the home’s aesthetic. Whether that’s English cottage or Farmhouse Revival or Craftsman, try to work with the architecture, not against it.”

With all the offerings from Triangle builders and a little ingenuity on your part, there’s no reason in the world to have a cookie-cutter home. An upgrade option here, a do-it-yourself project there, and you’ll have a home filled with the kind of character that is uniquely you.

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