Charm and character are in high demand from home buyers these days, but a lot of them still want the low maintenance aspect of a newer home. Residing in Richmond, inspiration for adding that old home charm is everywhere you look. Historic homes are kind of our thing. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to add those “original” feel features to a new space. The first way is to hire a custom home builder to create a space specific to your taste. Because they don’t build from a pre-planned spec, they can work with you to add those special touches just the way you want them. But, if you don’t have the time or budget for a custom home there are features you can easily add to your new build abode to make them feel older and more unique.

So if you want (or already have) all the benefits of contemporary living but prefer an old-home feel, we have some tips on adding those architectural details to give a new house lots of character.


Install Architectural Molding

Built-in decorative features are guaranteed fixes to cookie cutter homes. Crown molding, ceiling coffers, baseboards, chair rails, transoms, cornice molding, wainscoting and recessed panels all give new homes loads of vintage charm.

Change Out Cabinet Pulls

Antique houses for sure weren’t outfitted with brushed nickel and acrylic. So, if you want that old feel, switch them out. In your kitchen and bathroom, consider using glass knobs which became popular in homes in the early 1900s due to the lack of metal from the Great Depression. To carry the look throughout your home, do the same with your door knobs, desk drawer handles, and dresser pulls.

Address Your Staircase

You’ve seen the gorgeous staircases in historic Richmond homes, so take a few notes from them. Consider replacing the handrails and newel post with woodwork that’s more elegant and ornate. Local salvage yards (We adore Caravati’s on E. 2nd St!) and online sites are great places to snag pieces that will make an impression. You could also have a contractor custom build you something amazing.


Upgrade Your Light Switch and Outlet Plates

This one’s such an easy fix. Get rid of those plain white covers and give them all your switch plates and outlet covers a new look. Search for nickel and brass finishes to stay era-appropriate. You can check antique shops if you want the real deal, but there are plenty of reproduction pieces that work as well.


Switch Up Your Light Fixtures

Nothing screams new build like contractor-grade lighting. Though energy-smart and inexpensive, those dome fixtures make everything look generic. We get it– neutrality is the goal when you’re trying to entice buyers, but not when you want to create a beautiful space for yourself. Unique light fixtures like chandeliers, Edison bulb pendants, and wall sconces can help you get that vintage look you’re going for. If you want a real antique, be aware that old wiring can be problematic, so it’s also a good idea to consider reproductions. Remember, that vintage look is in right now so finding new versions of old favorites won’t be difficult.


Add Character to Your Entrances

Remove those boring entry doors with no pizzazz and consider options with things like transom windows, dental moldings, or even Dutch doors. Continue the old world feel with bronze or antiqued hardware and a beautiful stain or pop of color to finish it off.

New homes may not be able to tell the stories that older homes can, but they can still look like it.