7 Ways to Make Your New House Look Old

You’ve just purchased a home built in the past 10 to 15 years, and it has everything you need: the perfect location, a good-size lot, big closets, top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, a two-car garage—even a fireplace. It’s missing just one thing: character. Your house looks an awful lot like all the other cookie-cutter houses in the neighborhood. While new homes don't develop personality overnight, a few easy updates can instill in your new place the charm of an older one. Ranging from simple fixes like changing the paint colors to more ambitious projects like adding trim and beadboard, these 7 upgrades will transform your builder's-grade home into something special.

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  1. Crown Molding


    In older homes, it's all about the small details. Take crown molding, for example. Available in widths from simple to extravagant, crown molding provides a finishing touch in any room. Before you do it yourself, check that you've got the right tools for the job or hire a pro to help you cut each piece to size and install it properly against the wall.


  2. Natural Materials


    There's nothing wrong with laminate or vinyl surfaces, but if you want your countertops or floors to appear older—sturdier, even—opt for natural materials. Consider wood or stone countertops and ceramic tile or hardwood floors. And if you're imitating a bygone era, keep in mind that wide-plank wood floors have a more antique look than narrow boards.


  3. A Mix of Furnishings


    If you want to achieve a layered, lived-in look, then buying all your furniture at a department store in one afternoon won't cut it. Instead, gradually acquire your pieces over time for a mismatched design. Craft fairs, antiques stores, salvage shops, art exhibits, and even Craigslist will offer unusual pieces that can infuse your home with timeless charm.


  4. Historical Colors


    Nothing dates a home like color. Sometimes that's not ideal—think 1970s olive green. But if you're trying to evoke a particular period, the right color change can transport your home back in time. Arts and Crafts, Victorian, and Colonial interiors each call for different colors, and paint companies offer collections to help you mix up the perfect combination.


  5. Built-Ins


    Not only are built-in bookcases practical—turning empty spaces into valuable storage nooks—but they also give a home a stately, custom look. Alter the styling according to your taste. For instance, a built-in lined with beadboard appears farmhouse-rustic, while darker wood tones call to mind a dignified old library.


  6. Tin Ceiling Tiles


    While tin ceilings rose to popularity in the 1880s, they're still in vogue today. Whether you add these tiles to your kitchen ceiling or use them to create an eye-catching vintage backsplash, they're certain to bring in historical charm.


  7. Beadboard Wainscoting


    Beadboard enhances any plain wall, and for DIYers with good basic home improvement skills, it's not too hard to install. If you want to take your old-home quotient up a notch, remember that in older homes the fanciest beadboard was reserved for the main floors; save simpler designs for the family quarters.


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