Home Improvement and DIY, Vintage Style

How To Add Historic Charm And Character To Your Home

Add Vintage furnishings, architectural salvage and antiques to create historic character and charm to your home

Welcome back for another post in my “how to” home improvement and vintage style series! Today I am going to be sharing how to add historic charm and character to your home. There are some easy ways to transform your entire home, even if it is brand new. I personally love historic homes, and I am not sure I would ever want to live in a newer home. Others may love the look and charm of historic homes, but not the leaky pipes, drafty windows and creaky floor boards! Of course all of these things can be repaired but sometimes it is just more cost effective to buy a newer home. That doesn’t mean your home has to look modern. *This post contains affiliate links.


Gorgeous dining space with large corbel beautiful nautical themed dining room


If you love the idea of having a historic home but not the upkeep and repairs that go along with them, you can still have a home that has all the charm of an older home by adding architectural salvage, vintage furnishings and accessories and making some changes to the exterior and interior. Since vintage is all the rage now, it is easier than ever to find crown moldings,  corbels, old doors, windows, and other architectural salvage elements that can really transform your home.


magicalhome: “ Architectural salvage door for a pantry. ”


Wall color is Elephant Tusk Benjamin Moore..shiplap, stripe on ceiling at front door, unique light fixture....lots of interesting design elements....


Adding board and batten, shiplap or tongue and groove paneling can completely transform a space and give it instant historic character.

Thinking about refinishing hardwood floors? Learn about the restoration process and get hardwood floor refinishing tips to help you DIY or decide to go pro. #HardwoodFloorRefinishing #HardwoodFloor


If you have original hardwood floors under carpeting, consider removing the carpet. Hardwood floors are timeless and classic. Although it can be costly to invest in newer hardwood floors, there are some high quality and affordable laminate wood alternatives that look truly authentic.

First Things First: Research

Before you press ahead and decide to make your home a mish-mash of all styles from the last 100 years or more, it’s going to affect the appraisal value if you have a home that looks thrown together and disconnected. So, consider what style and time period you want to primarily focus on. Of course you can always mix vintage accessories from all time periods, but incorporating an ornate salvaged vintage fireplace mantel in a room that is straight up mid century modern might not be the best choice.

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Research architecture and period interiors to find a style that really appeals to you or that is most like the home you already have so that you can bring out it’s underlying historic strengths. Remember, depending on where you live, the architectural elements vary geographically. Instead, aim for one time period only when it comes to exteriors and the main architectural features of your interiors. 

Sears homes Sears home kits



Changing The Exteriors

There are various ways to give your home the appearance of yesteryear. For example, man-made materials weren’t as commonplace in the past as they are now. It’s beneficial to consult a specialist firm like to discuss what materials you can use to give your home a vintage feel, but also to discuss the cost of these materials. The older the materials you looking for, the harder they will be to source, and therefore, the price will be higher.  However, the investment can be well worth it as far as increasing the value of your home. For example, replacing a more modern door with a door that is more time period appropriate can drastically change the whole appearance of your exterior and will add value as well.


Beautiful replacement door by John McCarter Construction

What if you have distinctly modern looking ranch style home that lacks historic elements? Painting a brick ranch home white or gray, adding shudders, a vintage style door, and charming cottage style landscaping can completely change the look.  If you have a cottage with siding, consider vinyl or cedar shakes and the addition of corbels and pergolas over a porch or garage.

Adding character to the exterior with carriage garage doors, pergolas and corbels, cedar shake siding and attic vents. @thisoldhouse


Adding The Furniture

Antique furniture is a market all in itself, and there are various buyers guides online, such as, but you need to consider the time period of the items to suit the decor of your home. Of course you can mix furniture from different periods. Real antiques are going to cost much more than reproduction antiques, so it’s a question of how much your budget will allow, but you don’t have to spend a fortune. I furnish my home almost entirely with junkin’ finds, allowing me to have beautiful antiques and vintage pieces for a fraction of the cost of high end antique stores. 

50+ Classic and Vintage Farmhouse Bedroom Ideas


On the other hand, if you have the time, you can make your own furniture or even buy newer pieces to makeover.  Using chalk paint, faux finishing and various distressing techniques give newer pieces an aged look. 

Mid-century modern design: Let's fall in love with the most dazzling mid-century modern table lamps!



The Finishing Touches

Adding the finishing touches is the “icing on the cake” which will really give your home some historic character. For example, if you have plain doors you can add inexpensive trim which will instantly change the whole look of a room.


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Vintage light fixtures and door hardware also make a big impact and can instantaneously add historic character.

Let our talented interior designers create a vision for your home and garden.. The shoppes at Ashley Carol Home & Garden Cornelius NC 704 892 4743


gorgeous vintage door knob shabby chic door


Adding items like reclaimed bricks will create that sense of age that is very hard to mimic. There are so many affordable options too. I used inexpensive faux brick paneling in my kitchen and painted it! Our kitchen had been renovated in the 1980’s which stripped it of it’s historic character. Adding the brick paneling was a perfect way to give it period charm, and most everyone thinks it is a real, original brick wall. My husband also updated a cheap popcorn ceiling with paneling and trim to create a charming coffered ceiling. The simple decorative addition of a 100 year-old salvaged, leaded glass church window added even more historic charm to the kitchen.



If you really want an authentic looking historic kitchen you could use period appliances. I actually used a 1950’s refrigerator for almost a year, back in 2000. I put up with the hassle of having to chip away at the arctic mounds of ice every time I wanted to get something out of my freezer. There was no Pinterest at the time, so I didn’t realize there were brand new period style appliances! So when you’re looking for functional appliances, the best approach is to find replicas of old appliances, so they are compatible with the modern world. I did however have a 1950’s stove that worked very well, so it’s also beneficial to look at refurbished old appliances if you’re looking for that real depth of character. 

Love the stove, the cabinets, the counter top, sink, AND the floor.


This post is just a basic introduction to the topic of creating a historic home, but there will be some future posts which go into a little more detail on specific ways to achieve that historic appeal. Adding historic character and charm to your home may not be “cheap,” but it doesn’t all have to happen at once. If you make little changes at a time it can be affordable, and within a few years you can have the home of your dreams.  You can also add decorative vintage style elements for character and charm even if you can’t tackle the bigger home renovation projects.

Display Idea - a salvaged window and bundles of books in a basket. The Farmhouse Porch




If you are looking for specific ways to add vintage decorative style, don’t miss my post, How To Add Vintage Style To Your Home.

vintage decorative accents salvage where to buy the best vintage decor chippy shabby chic

If done correctly and tastefully, the changes you make to your home to add charm and character will increase the resale value and make it a highly desirable property in the event that you ever decide to sell.  If you love watching an old home come back to life in “vintage style” be sure to “Follow The Yellow Brick Home” by subscribing to my email list. If you have done any renovations or found unique ways to add historic charm and character to your home I would love to hear about it. I always look forward to your comments!


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  • Reply Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces

    So many great ideas, Amber…lots of inspiration! Thank you for sharing!

    February 8, 2018 at 12:16 am
    • Reply Amber Lyon Ferguson

      Thank you Linda! I feel like I could have really developed this post further, there are so many ways to really make dramatic changes using salvage pieces. I am making over my fireplace right now to give it more character. Hoping to post that before and after soon. Thank you so much for visiting!

      February 8, 2018 at 11:59 pm
  • Reply Laura Ingalls Gunn

    This post was invaluable to me! I am currently working on updating our guest bath and want to add a bit of historic charm. I see a trip to the salvage yard in my future.

    February 8, 2018 at 7:26 pm
    • Reply Amber Lyon Ferguson

      How fun! Can’t wait to see what you come up with, I know it will be stunning! Thanks for visiting Laura!

      February 8, 2018 at 11:49 pm
  • Reply Cindy@countyroad407

    Wow, great post. I’ve pinned several pictures. Love it!

    February 28, 2018 at 4:44 pm
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