How to add “Old House” Character and Charm to your Newer Home {Step 1}




I love the look of older homes.  Like, 100 years old (or older) homes.



I love the character and charm they possess.  There is a beauty and warmth that is hard to describe, but can definitely be “felt” when you are inside on older home.



But my home was built in the 1970’s, so what is a girl supposed to do?


Well, all this week, I am planning on showing you the steps I plan on taking to hopefully create that “old home” feeling in our house (and our new addition.)


Step One: 


Add wood ceilings.


A lot older homes have wood ceilings.

wood ceilings


You can create your wood ceilings by installing wood planks or even bead board.

You can paint it or leave it natural.

wood ceiling


Either way, adding wood to your ceilings makes a dramatic difference in the feel of the room.wood ceiling


It adds warmth and character to the room.

wood ceiling


I can attest to this!  Adding wood on top of our stippled ceiling made all the difference in the world when we renovated our kitchen!

wood ceiling

I am hoping to add wood ceilings in some other rooms in our home as well.  This will be a gradual process and not something I plan on doing this year.

But we do plan on adding some wood beams in our new master bathroom.

Something like these…


wood ceiling bathroom

We have some plumbing (for the boys’ upstairs bathroom) in our bathroom that is going to need to be hidden.  So we are going to make some hollow wooden beams to cover the pipes!

I cannot wait!


Click the links below to see steps 2 through 6.

Step 2:  Replace your builder’s grade doors with paneled doors.

Step 3:  Replace your builder’s grade light fixtures with ones that possess more character and charm.

Step 4:  Add character to your home with new “old” hardware.

Step 5:  Add Character and Charm to your home with Finish Trim Work

Step 6:  Add Wood Flooring!




  1. I’m one of those “lucky” ones that have lived in 3 homes in my 28 yrs of marriage that have been 100 yrs old or older. Our current home was built in 1879. They are alot of work and come with ALOT of character as well. In my experience ( I was also raised in older homes) wood ceilings weren’t “typical” except maybe of course on porches, upstairs attic spaces or back rooms to homes that maybe weren’t actual living spaces, but maybe where storage would be or perhaps, like my Grandmother’s centennial farmhouse, where her wash tub and such would be. I do like the look though that I am seeing in older homes that have been restored and homes such as yours where you’re adding them in for character. Beautiful pictures you’ve found of restored older homes with wood ceilings.
    I enjoy seeing your renovations! Have fun!

    1. I have a question for you… i have noticed old homes sometimes have a step up from the hallway to enter the bedrooms then a step down on the other side into the room. do you know why the old homes were built this way…

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! I love older homes too, but not all the maintenance that goes with them! Our 1960’s ranch isn’t super old, but we are experiencing many of the fun things that go alongnwith an older home. Can’t wait to see the rest this week!

  3. YES to this. I like this series. I have that stippled textured ceiling in EVERY room of my house. I was looking at the floor plan of my house and thinking about how we live and we are really low-key people. Nothing too fancy, nothing that needs to be molly-coddled. :-) So a cottage look is really perfect for us.

    I think I will add some beadboard ceilings (maybe paneling) to our powder room as a test drive. Next would be my office. These are the small do-able rooms.


  4. Really lie what you have done in your home. We own a home that was built in 1905 since all walls and ceilings are plaster this would be a great solution to covering the imperfections. Plus it maintains the charactor of the home.

  5. I was so excited to see this post and know you are doing a series. I would love to add bead board. We built a new home…I wanted an old fixer-upper with land. I am doing my best to bring the look of an old home in. First, the 8-inch baseboards were standard with David Weekley Homes. I already knew from the beginning of construction, we would have carpet laid throughout and I would be replacing it with hardwood flooring as soon as we closed. We could not afford to have the builder do it. The best surprise was Larry agreeing to the hand-scrapped, distressed, dark flooring!! The standard doors looked old, so THAT was a check on my list!!

    I can hardly wait for your second installment. Hugs, Jan

  6. I think all things we add to our home gives it character that makes our thoughts of homes that bring back memories that stir our heart is what we all desire.
    I grew up in the same house, didn’t have any grandparents alive, but there are imagines in my heart that stirs a wonderful feeling.
    And some of those things is a wooden ceiling, (that I do plan on adding to my kitchen this year), an old cast sink w/ built in drain board and wooden counter tops. Not to mention, an old chandelier of my kitchen table, plank/bead board bath room walls, pieces of furniture being used as sink bases in both of our bathrooms, and wood floors are the things I desire to do this year.
    I have no memory of such a thing in my childhood, but it sure does envolk a stirring in my heart that is warm and good. Things that seem to hold a story of the past are what warms my heart and I want to share w/ others those same feelings as they spend time with us in our home. Something usually contrary to this world, and our call to be in the world but not of the world.
    Thanks for sharing, and Inspriing.
    Deb CLaytor
    Eclectic Treasures by Two Funky Women

  7. Hi Traci,

    I completely agree, old homes have great character and I love them! Unfortunately, my husband is not a fan of them, he doesn’t like the maintaince and it’s just not his style. We’ve only bought one home, it was new and I hated it! I didn’t care for the lack of trees in a new subdivision, getting permission to make landscape changes, etc. I preferred homes with big shady trees which meant they were older more established homes. Right now we’re renting (a newer home) due to his job move, we might move again soon due to another promotion. I’m fine renting because I’m dreading buying a new home and the differences in our tastes. My husband is not handy so we’ll have to find a happy medium….if one exists.

    Have a great Monday!

    1. One thought on couples with differing view points and finding a happy medium…

      The first house my hubby and I bought was his style, but I HATED it. I mean H.A.T.E.D. it. When we chose to buy again, our realtor gave us a homework assignment before we ever went looking at houses. We were to each, separately, right a list of the items that we wanted in a house. Then priorities them and write them out again in the prioritized order. After that we done, we were to bring our two list together and see what we had in common and what was most important to the other person.

      It helped so much! He was able to see that I really did want a house with some character. I was able to see that he really wanted low maintenance. We were able to find a happy medium by looking for a house older, but still in REALLY good shape.

      Our home was built in the 1940s, but it is NOT a tract house. But it also passed all the inspections and we have had to do little repairs on it in 3 years. The changes we have made have been mostly upgrades like a new, wider carport, moving the furnace from a closet into the attic, etc.

      The down side to this is that we also ended up with a smaller home than if we had been willing to do repairs, but I am wiling to make the sacrifice for a happy hubby and a happy me!

  8. I love your ideas! We had removed all our horrible popcorn ceilings but didn’t do my walk in closet. After seeing your wood plank ceiling it gave me an idea, we covered my ceiling with cedar planks. I LOVE it, looks great, covers the popcorn, smells soooo good and will keep the silverfish away. My husband liked to so much he did his closet too.

  9. I love old homes with character. Our home was built in 1901, so character abounds. Along with crooked walls, floors, door ways and windows! Unfortunately a lot of modern updates such as sheet rock and popcorn ceilings have been added over the years. Underneath lays old hardwood tongue & groove walls and ceilings! We had a main beam crack under the house last year which caused some ceiling and sheet rock damage, yipee for me. I know crazy women on the loose. Hubby has now agreed to strip all the sheet rock and allow me to refinish the ceilings. I can’t wait!! Looking forward to the rest of the week and your series!

  10. So excited about this series! My (new) home was built in 1955, and as I work on renovating it piece by piece, I am definitely looking for ways to add character. The wood ceilings are a great idea – I’ll have to see where that might work in my house!

  11. What a great series! I love old homes too! We looked at some older homes here before we bought our house – unfortunately the school district thing kept us from buying in a couple of the areas we were looking at. Looking forward to your next post!

  12. Ahh the best of both worlds..newer home with old feel. The older homes rock for sure but they sure do come with tons of problems..those lovely windows with the wavy glass that everyone loves so much- well that glass is very cold and scares you everytime you touch it. It leaks so much air in and out that it is always high to maintain the temperature and bills are higher. I love our old home but we are ready to move and are planning on buying something newer with good bones so we can do the same thing- make it old feeling. Can’t wait to enjoy the rest of this series.

  13. I live in a Craftsman that was built in 1920. Oddly enough, the only room in the house that has a wood ceiling is in our basement. It’s a large room with beautiful wood floors and a large built in bar. There’s also a strange wood paneling (large 18″ wooden squares with beveled edges) on the wall. All of the wood is brown and cave-like. We use this room as our TV/workout room, so in a way it works. I would love to paint the ceiling and remove the strange wood paneling on the walls, but I haven’t come up with the right plan yet. Any ideas?

  14. I was raised in Alabama and loved all the old houses in the town I grew up in. I would love an old home feel like lthose of my childhood so I am looking forward to these tips to transform my 1970’s home. My question about the wood ceiling is … would it look odd in a home that does not have taller ceilings? Our ceilings are only about 7.5 feet tall. Do you think it would make the room look smaller? I love the look ….it is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing all your know how!!!

  15. I was thrilled when I saw the topic of this post! One reason I love your kitchen redo so much is because you successfully brought in that old house aesthetic. The ceiling is aMAZing. I will do this at some point to some room in my house. Thank you for sharing these inspiring pictures. One day I will live in an old home but until then I will keep turning my newer home into a place of character and warmth. Looking forward to your next post on this topic!

  16. I love this idea for a series, because architectural pieces and details can add such character and charm to a home! I would love to add wood plank ceilings, but don’t know where to begin. Can you just nail it up to the sheetrock? I’ve considered putting the paintable ceiling tin wallpaper on the ceiling of my powderroom since there would not be any steam problems in there. Have you seen the Van Dyke website or catalog? It is full of wonderful vintage hardware, trim, molding, doorknobs and reproduction hardware. I plan to replace all my interior doors with solid wood doors and would love to have antique knobs and backplates on them! Looking forward to your series, Traci! Will you have tutorials?

  17. Oh, I love wooden and plank ceilings! I think my husband (not and old house fan) would say it’s too weird though. I pick my battles ;-) Your kitchen’s ceiling looks amazing, and I can’t wait to see the beams you make!

  18. I am really enjoying this series! Especially since most modern home builders use cheap builder grade materials that usually need replacing! Did you ever post a tutorial of how you installed your wooden plank ceilings? Would love to learn how to do this…tutorials please!!

  19. I love the idea of adding old touches to new homes! There are so wonderful advantages to new homes, but the memories and nostalgia that come from old homes is magical!

    Great series!!!

  20. Hi Traci,

    I am loving all the touches you are adding to your home. The kitchen turned out so pretty and I absolutely think I must have a ceiling like that in my kitchen! It would mean a new ceiling in our kitchen and family room because they’ re connected. I have a question for you, does the ceiling sag at all? I know you used those thin planks like Layla and am wondering, since, at places, the length would be long….I’m not explaining it very well……if the planks are 12 ft long, 3 or more might have to be used span the entire kitchen and family room. I wouldn’t want to be able to see small sags if the thin planks sag.

    Thanks, sorry for rambling on.

  21. I would love to tear out my llittle kitchen and start over but my husband is not that talented. Of course I have sculptured finish. I don’t know what we were thinking when we built our house. Thanks for your blog to show me what a great house should look like.
    Thanks, Shirley

  22. I LOOOOOVE your wood ceiling!! You are sooo right, it really does add charm & character to a room, especially the kitchen.

  23. I also love wood ceilings. I put new tongue and groove ceilings in both my sunroom, which I use for a breakfast room and the adjoining kitcen. I painted them white. I live in a 1936 white brick cape cod in the mountains of western Virgina. It is very cottagey but small. The ceilings added such warmth to the space. Also, my living room had dark wood beams and dark pink walls with dark wood trim. I painted the beams and trim white, the ceilings pale blue and the walls a butter cream. The room has a river rock fireplae and dark wood floors. I must say everyone who comes to my home just smiles and loves it. It is so inviting with no pretense….a true Cottage. Love old homes!!!!

  24. What is the height of ceilings in your home? I find that to be the hardest part. We are looking at a 60’s home and the ceilings feel so low. They are 8 ft. We have a 40’s home and it has such character. Ceiling height makes such a difference. What are you working with?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *