31 Ways to Kick Up the Character In Your Home

HGTV Magazine takes you through a designer's home packed with ideas that can take any space from ordinary to totally personalized.

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October 30, 2018

Gutting the outdated Nashville, TN, house Laura Thurman bought with her husband, Josh, didn’t intimidate her at all. The real challenge was infusing the new interior with personality.

“We wanted to make sure our home didn’t feel too new and cold,” Laura says. She got to work amping up the charm in the 2,300-square-foot space with moves big and small, from a wood-clad beam that spans the living areas (spoiler: it’s actually a structural fix) to mini hexagon tiles in the guest bathroom. She quirked it up with furniture and accessories that have a global vibe, like the Moroccan pendants and patterned tile in the kitchen. She also mixed vintage finds with new buys (the dining room table is one of her faves).

The resulting character-filled blend is one you’d never expect to see judging by its traditional exterior. “We’re in a totally suburban area,” says Laura, “but when people come in, I hope they feel transported by the modern Bohemian energy. We do!”


Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

1. A wall of prints and assorted treasures looks interesting and inviting.

2. To breathe new life into beat-up stairs, homeowner Laura Thurman had them carpeted with flat-weave herringbone NuLoom rugs she found on sale.

Eating Area

The couple's beagle, Mr. Bingely, loves to hang out in this spot.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

The couple's beagle, Mr. Bingely, loves to hang out in this spot.

3. A support beam replaced the wall between the kitchen and the living room. The couple made it look design-y by covering it with leftover light French oak flooring.

4. The curvy shape and silvery finish of the pendants are totally eye-catching.

5. Carved details (such as those seen in the cabinet on the left) always seem special. This cabinet is from HomeGoods.

6. Tile with a star design (seen on the kitchen island) from SomerTile and gold-dipped stools by Safavieh take the island to a whole other level.


Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

7. Brackets (back left corner) don't have to be basic: The circle design on these from Rejuvenation makes them special.

8. "We chose brick-like white ceramic tile (see backsplash area) to give the space an older feel—but cool older," says Laura. They vetoed upper cabinets which would have covered it.

9. Laura painted the cabinets black (Caviar by Sherwin-Williams) and put in butcher-block counters in a dark walnut shade for a touch of history.

10. A faded vintage rug (from the Etsy shop Pink Vintage Rugs) gives the brand-new kitchen a charming timeworn vibe.

Dining Room

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

11. Laura created an even more intriguing tray ceiling by painting the inset black (the same color as the kitchen cabinets) and installing a white medallion for contrast.

12. An angular light fixture spanning almost the length of the table gives the room extra drama. It’s by Stilnovo.

13. A table with a concrete look (this one’s by Four Hands) is edgy, especially paired with black wishbone chairs by Baxton Studio.

14. Arranged on the wall, a bunch of woven baskets morphs into art.

Living Room

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

15. When Laura bought the (above left) West Elm swivel chairs, she chose a distressed blue pattern that gives them statement-piece status.

16. A juju hat from Old World Shoppe (above mantel) turns the fireplace into a twice-as-fab focal point.

17. Why store pretty throws when you can show them off? The black bamboo ladder (above right corner) is from Houzz.

18. Mixed patterns jazz up any neutral rug/sofa combo. Stripes are easy to work with (see couch pillows).

Master Bedroom

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

19. Sconces bring coziness to the master bedroom; plug-in kinds make it so easy (above headboard).

20. It’s refreshing to combine styles not normally seen together, like a headboard with a Moroccan vibe (by Universal Furniture) and mid-century-style chests (from West Elm).

21. Placing a settee or bench at the foot of a bed gives a room instant lived-in cred. Laura got the plush one (above) at West Elm.

22. Rattan tables from Serena & Lily (in front of love seat) introduce an unexpected material and shape.


Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

23. Instead of a standard vanity in the guest bathroom, Laura had a sink installed on top of a dresser from Nadeau.

24. Out went the linen closet; in came a weathered wood piece from Nadeau (far right).

Guest Bedroom

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

25. To get floor-to-ceiling style in the guest room (without customizing), Laura hung patterned drapes from Urban Outfitters.

26. A blanket with different textures, like the one above from Anthropologie, ups the bedding game.

27. For drama, she bought an extra-tall (64 inches) forest green headboard at World Market.

28. One way to add a distinct touch and avoid ripping up existing carpet: lay a graphic rug (this one's by Dear Keaton) over it.


Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

29. Open shelves behind the desk display the accessories Laura’s loving at the moment.

30. Clear acrylic chairs from Wayfair are way more exciting than office chairs, plus they don’t visually clutter the space.

31. Complementary colors can make a plain room look curated—like the hues in this rug (also from Wayfair), which play off the ones in the striped art.

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