As architects, we work closely with clients to create all kinds of renovations from massive overhauls to small kitchen updates. One the thing I always find that really defines a project is the completion of the character building details. It also is what most clients rave about when it’s over.
Most of the projects we work on are about opening up space and getting light and connectivity throughout the house. Often times this openness can lead to a lack of definition of space. The goal is to maintain the original character or add well designed elements that add character to a project. And so details are the key.
An easy place to start is with the ceilings. Locating lights, especially can lights can subtly start to define space or accent an area. Once a large wall is taken out or opened up, a simple ceiling treatment can add character to the room without over powering it. Options for the ceiling include crown molding, beams or coffers. The fun part, is playing with the options to create a simple detail or increasing the details complexity based on over all intended outcome.
Different colored walls are often used to define a space or give one a special feel. Too many colors in a house can lead to a choppy or inconstant design. Another option that adds character is simple wall details. This can be done to one wall or a series of walls. By removing crown in a room and adding a small wood trim 12” below the ceiling (typically called a picture rail) it completely change a room’s feel. Especially if the ceiling color follows the drop. Wainscoting is a simple way to add a defining detail with very little cost. This can be done directly over drywall. This detail can be done short or tall and allows for lots of painting combinations.
Finally built-ins are great ways to really establish strong character. A simple window bench seat or entrance shoe rack can start to define space and add detail. Built-in hutches or wall hung shelving can add storage and character at the same time. The permanence of a well-placed built-in can do more to a house’s character than most any other single detail element.
There are dozens of options to start with to add simple character to houses. It starts with the right selections of details or combinations of details. Then refining these elements together in the proper manner that creates a complete and character filled renovation.