Buying a character home is like buying an antique car, it will be more beautiful than all the others on the block, but you will have to spend every Sunday polishing it!
To the converted, however, the charm of the older character home makes all that polishing worthwhile. If you would love a character home, but cannot quite run to the expense or the staying power of renovating and maintenance, think of adding some characteristics that can give your home the appearance of an older style house.
Initially the exterior is where your changes will be the most noticeable.
If your modern home has a stucco finish – one of the easiest ways to add interest to it is to finish it with Tudor wooden beam paneling. In Tudor times, the stucco was traditionally painted cream or white with either dark brown or black wooden beams crisscrossing the stucco.
However, lately the medieval look has been successfully re-created with pale silver gray stucco and a darker gun-metal gray wood trim. Cream or white stucco with gray trim also looks classy.
If Tudor style beams will not complement the design of your home, how about gingerbread trim – another ‘character classic’. This scallop-edged trim is usually attached to the eaves and the porch of the home; many homes have matching shutters too.
Bay windows, which jut out from the exterior wall of the house will ‘age’ both the inside and outside of your home. In Victorian times, a shelf that lined up flush with the wall was built across the indented bay of the window; cushions were built on top to make it a padded ‘window seat’. Usually the seat was boxed in beneath for storage purposes.
Circular windows that ‘bulge’ out from the home like a tower are a key feature that can also be incorporated into the walls of a modern home. The most effective type of tower is added onto the corner of a home, with a circular spiral roof atop. If you plan on this you may need to consult a structural engineer on how to reinforce the corner of your home.
Another feature that can age your home is to replace your windows with oldie English ‘leaded light’ effect windows. These can be imitated by buying the pencil-thin, diamond crisscross patterned sections to attach to the inside of your window panes.
Perhaps easier to build is a porch or a verandah. If you use spindle railings and old fashioned stair railings, this will add to the character look of your home. Alternatively you can use a gingerbread trim and match it to the eaves.
Front yards and driveways can also enhance the character look of a home. For instance if you pour a concrete driveway, it will look modern. For a character effect, try laying down a driveway of the dull, dark red Italian cobblestones. These will have to be laid on a level bed of soft sand that is shuttered with trim on both sides..
For maximum effect make sure you choose medieval or Victorian design house accessories. For instance, black iron exterior house lamps, three-ball lamp posts and wrought iron gates.