Projects That Add Character

Sep 20, 2012

I've always loved the look of dark hardwood floors and beautiful white trim.

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Sigh.  Pretty, right?  Those rooms are so beautiful I don't think the furnishings even matter.  Even if they were completely empty they would be sigh worthy.  I was always decorating and redecorating my house to get a certain look, but just ended up frustrated.  I could never put my finger on the problem, but I finally realized I didn't have a decorating problem.  My house lacked character and detail.  No matter what furniture or accessories I bought it would never be what I wanted until I added character.  My husband and I set out to add wainscoting, door casings, window casings, etc.

What we had to work with:

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Much better! 

The Details

Paint. I painted the walls (SW Comfort Gray), but more importantly I finally painted the trim on the staircase black.  It took less than an hour and a quart of oil based enamel black paint.  It was a project I was scared to do because I was painting over real wood, but after painting over the light wood kitchen cabinets I felt brave.  Like the cabinets, it's one of those projects I wish I would have done years ago.

Hardware.  I also switched out the brass doorknobs and white hinges for oil rubbed bronze.  The cost was about $15 a door.  That's some bang for your buck!

Moulding.  I will admit this takes a little skill and a table saw, but it's something anyone can do.  There are tons of DIY type video tutorials out there.  I would not recommend starting with the crown moulding like my husband and I did!  The wainscoting and baseboards were probably the easiest because it is measuring, marking, and straight cuts.  Also, invest in a nail gun.  It will make the project go so much faster and easier.  We also replaced all the door and window casing (well, we never had window casing to begin with).  I matched the style of my casing to my house.  I would have done something completely different if I had a red brick traditional home that is popular in my area.  I looked at tons of pictures online and decided to mimic what I saw in other cottage style homes.  I didn't come up with the ideas all at once either.  For example, the "feet" on the door casing were added later.  I just felt the bottom of the moulding was missing something.  To save money, we used almost all MDF boards.  They are also smoother and easier to paint over. 

Moving to the kitchen...

The biggest changes in here are the painted cabinets and new granite.  But, until we added the small details this renovation fell flat.  Before you say, "yeah, right" check out these pictures.


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Not what I had imagined...

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That's the kitchen I had in mind!

Backsplash.  My husband and I did this ourselves and it was so easy.  I knew I wanted a beadboard backsplash, but was worried about the areas behind the stove and sink so we opted for subway tile in those areas.  What was a challenge ended up being a great feature.  Because the kitchen is all white it needs different materials for interest.  We also added the corbels under the cabinets to hide the seams between the tile and beadboard, which just added to the look.

Glass Cabinets.  I really think the glass doors make the kitchen.  That huge bank of white cabinets needed to be broken up, but I thought it would cost too much money to have them retrofitted with glass.  I contacted a local glass company "just to see."  It ended up costing $40 a door to cut the door by a professional cabinetmaker they contract out to AND for the glass.  I had those four doors loaded up in my car within minutes of getting off the phone!  This is an easy update anyone can do.

Bamboo Blinds.  I don't dislike white wood blinds and still have them in the windows that face the front of the house.  But, in an all white kitchen bamboo blinds add color, texture, and a natural element.  I bought mine at Lowe's and had them cut to size.

Add a Transom

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I don't have a before picture since we built the study, but transoms can be retrofitted.  Actually, because our transom didn't come in on time we had to retrofit ours.  Our contractor did it and I can honestly say it's best to let the professionals handle this one unless you are really handy.  Transoms don't always have to go above a window or door.  I think they are a great way to divide a room.


  1. OMG I can't get over your transformation! Those are great before and afters! i love the look - I saved forever to be able to my own floors earlier this year. That entry way in the second photo is part of my dream home :)

  2. Aww! Thank you! It was definitely a labor of love. I remember reading about your floors and I know what you mean by saving for them.

  3. Gorgeous!! I had the same problem. Our house never "felt" right. I re-painted many times and it still wasn't right. NOw we have been adding character with moldings, dark hardware etc. I am now loving the "feel" of our home.
    I found your blog while searching for Comfort Gray. I bought that colour to paint our Master Bedroom and possibly the kitchen (I am not sure yet).
    Your house looks stunning!!

  4. I've been reading through a few posts on your blog and you've really done a beautiful job with all of the moldings and wood details throughout the house. Your updates look like they've always been with the home, which is the nicest compliment I could think of. The addition of the glass kitchen cabinet doors make a huge difference. I didn't know it was so reasonable! I've just purchased a townhome that was redone last year and I have a lot of moldings to add but it will take some time. I agree 100% that it makes a huge difference! I also like the fact that you were able to update your current home instead of purchasing another one. It's amazing what some updates will do and I bet you are thrilled that you didn't have to move! Great job.