How to Add Craftsman Character to Your Modern-Day Home

We just spent the most wonderful vacation with our dear friends in the picture-perfect town of Wilmette, IL (a north shore Chicago suburb). Most of the homes in the area were built in the Arts & Crafts style of the 1920’s, and the cobblestone streets are lined with enormous mature trees.

When I looked at the houses in that incredible neighborhood, the first word that came to mind was “character.” Each house seems to tell a story, and I was mesmerized as I walked down each street, admiring the homes. My friend’s house is no different…it is filled with craftsman details, perfectly married with modern conveniences. Older homes like these embrace the idea of a relaxed, functional lifestyle, yet understand the importance of beautiful details.

sears kit home

So, what is it exactly that makes these older homes so full of character? And more importantly, how can you capture some of that classic charm in your home? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to a few essential elements of older homes that really make an impact. If you live in a new, builder-basic home, like me, you’ll want to pay attention because chances are your home didn’t come with these “details.”

Craftsman Window & Door Trim

Craftsman houses are known for their beautiful, chunky wood trim around their windows and doors. Many people prefer the bare wood look, but lots of other folks opt to paint this trim white. Both look fantastic! craftsman door trim

Changing the trim around your windows and doors is a surefire way to add instant character, and the added trim detail effortlessly improves the look of the room. Not so sure? Just take a look at these beautiful before and after pictures.


I am a huge lover of built-ins! To me, they are like magic…instantly giving a room something unique and special. In older Craftsman homes, you often see built-in units in the dining room, or around the living room fireplace. In my opinion, built-ins are a perfect way to add charm to any room in the house!

craftsman built-ins

how to add craftsman character to your home

Built-ins can be added almost anywhere in your home! You can add a built-in under a window, around a door, along a blank wall, or by transforming a closet. Just take a look at these beautiful and clever built-in ideas.

built-in window seat

Source: Pinterest

built-in office nook

Source: David Scharff architect


This is another one of those Craftsman character design details that I just can’t get enough of. Whether it be beadboard, or board and batten style, wainscoting elevates any room to a whole new level. It adds incredible elegance, charm, and a crisp, clean look.

craftsman character with wainscoting
In our previous home, we added wainscoting and Craftsman door trim to our hallway.  What an amazing difference that made!

hallway before wainscoting

Hallway {Before)

hallway wainscoting, board and batten,

Hallway After! Source: Welsh Design Studio

Wainscoting is actually very easy to install, and is perfect for a DIY project. The internet is loaded with tutorials! Let’s take a look at how wainscoting completely transformed some modern-day homes!

Staircase wainscoting

Source: This Old House

wainscoting before after

Source: Pinterest

Ceiling Details

Finally, if you look up in an older Craftsman home, you are likely to see beautiful details on the ceiling.  From crown moulding, to coffered ceilings, to wood paneling, to medallions around light fixtures…they didn’t neglect the ceiling the way more modern home builders did.

craftsman ceiling details

How can you add some beautiful craftsman ceiling details to your home? Take a look at these stunning examples for some inspiration!

faux coffered ceiling

Faux Coffered Ceiling (Before) by Amy Casablanca

faux coffered ceiling

Faux Coffered Ceiling (After) by Amy Casablanca

plank wood ceiling

Source: Pinterest

So, if you feel like your home might be lacking some character, you might be right! Today’s homes often don’t include the details that make a house feel cozy, interesting, or charming. I hope these examples have given you some ideas of where you might be able to enhance your home by adding in a little Craftsman character.

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By | 2017-08-03T09:12:15+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|Built-Ins, Ceiling, Inspiration, Wainscoting|34 Comments


  1. 'Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook August 2, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Excellent examples! My house was built around 1920 but is one of the more “basic” homes in the neighborhood, with not as much woodwork as some. We are planning a small addition and hope to add some Craftsman details in the process. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Have you read any of the Not-So-Big House books? They emphasize putting your money into high-quality, comforting, practical details instead of more cubic footage.

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Hi Becca! Yes, I’ve have the Not-So-Big-House books, and I LOVE them! Probably because the authors seem to love built-ins as much as I do! 🙂

  2. firebirdwife August 3, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I looove this post! I would love to live in a old house with charm and character but in Phoenix they are so hard to come by. The very few we have are way too expensive. Thanks for inspiring me to want to make these changes in our own house. We move in January and my husband is going to have his work cut out for him! Ha! Will be pining for later!

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Thanks! We have a new build, and have to add in a lot of character ourselves! The good news is that even if you don’t have an older home, you can still add in a lot of the details that make them so great! Good luck with your move!

  3. Cathy August 4, 2017 at 4:26 am

    Gorgeous! Love looking at the before & afters!

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Cathy! I love before and after pics, too!

  4. Leanna August 4, 2017 at 10:21 am

    What a beautiful post. Those old magnificient craftsman homes are so appealing, but I love my modern fairly new home. We have been pondering crown moulding and some fancy wainscotting in our home and your post is an amazing reference for different modern styles. Thank you for posting. Pinning and sharing,

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Thank you, Leanna! Glad to give you some new ideas! If you are considering wainscoting, I say “do it!” You won’t be sorry!

  5. K.Rupp August 4, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I love these details! Beautiful! Thank you for laying it all out! Pinned so that I can add some sort of craftsman characteristic in the near future. Glad I found your site through chic on a shoestring linky party! 🙂

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:19 am

      So glad you stopped by! I think details make all the difference in a home!

  6. sizzlesue15 August 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    You have given us so many wonderful ideas for adding character to our homes, Melissa. Thank you for inspiring us and sharing at #BloggersPitStop.

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed my post!

  7. Judi August 5, 2017 at 3:54 am

    What a great post! I’m simply bursting with ideas now. Thanks for sharing.

    Judi in the UK

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Thanks! So happy to provide you with some new ideas!

  8. April August 5, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I love older homes, like you said, they definitely have character. Not like the cookie cutter houses they slap together now-a-days. I’m a huge fan of built-ins and wainscoting, so pretty! PINed it, and thank you for sharing with us at Friday Frenzy. 🙂

    April – Home Sweet Homestead

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Thanks April! I agree they don’t make houses like they used to…with all the beautiful details that make older homes so fantastic! We often have to add in those pretty details ourselves! We are in the middle of doing that to our new construction house now!

  9. Carol August 7, 2017 at 5:13 am

    I love older buildings with all the details that make it special. Beautiful post.

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Thanks Carol!

  10. Cindy August 7, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Great ideas for adding “old character and charm” to newer spaces.
    Thanks so much for also sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Thanks Cindy!

  11. Allison August 7, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    We were so lucky that when we moved into our current rental, the owners had renovated it with plans to someday move back here as their permanent residence. So, it has tons of little craftsman details that you’d normally never find in rentals. We love it!

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Wow, that is lucky!

  12. Jann Olson August 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Love all of these ideas. What a difference they make! We’ve added some of these in our home. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks Jann! We’ve added a lot of these features in our previous homes, and are working on it in our new home. I love what a huge difference these changes make to the look and feel of a home!

  13. Kathleen | Our Hopeful Home August 8, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Love, love, love all this inspiration! I live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago so I know all about Wilmette:) I’m a huge fan of board and batten! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!
    xo Kathleen|Our Hopeful Home

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

      So glad you stopped by! We were blown away by the beauty of the north shore neighborhoods! What a fabulous place to live!

  14. Carol ("Mimi") August 9, 2017 at 10:29 am

    It’s interesting how craftsman style went out of vogue and has now made a comeback. It’s really just solid workmanship and good quality. Thanks for showing how adding architectural features to a modern home can kick it up a notch. Great photos!
    Carol (“Mimi”) from Home with Mimi

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      I agree! Great quality and workmanship will always be in style!

  15. Mary-The Boondocks Blog August 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Wow all these homes are loaded with character. I really like all the architectural details and the built ins serve a double function. They are pretty and very practical.

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      I love it when beauty and functionality meet!

  16. laura August 10, 2017 at 10:55 am

    SO gorgeous. Our old farmhouse has a few of these details and we’re adding more as we remodel!

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:31 am

      How fun to renovate an old farmhouse! Thanks for stopping by!

  17. firebirdwife August 11, 2017 at 12:31 am

    I just wanted to let you know this will be the featured post on this weeks Friday at the Fire Station link-up!

    • mwelsh August 11, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Thank you so much! I always look forward to your link party each week!

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