Looking to add a little character and personality to your home? Here are some simple ideas to add architectural detail to your home on a budget.

When we moved to Texas and bought this house back it and its 110-year-old self came with many things.

(total aside: if you are visiting for the first time here’s the story of how we jumped and how we jumped back again.)

100-year-old wood flooring.

10-foot ceilings.

Vintage crystal chandeliers.

Built-in niches.

Parquet flooring.

And a staircase that doubles as a supermodel.

And all that is great. And historical. And vintage. But what if you don’t live in a 100-year-old home? What if you live in a new home or a builder-grade home or a home that you just bought that needs a few additions?

I get it.

I COMPLETELY understand.

I have spent YEARS trying to add character to all the homes I’ve lived in before and I am an expert at making a house look like it is full of character on a budget. All you really need is some molding and some paint and primer and caulk…

…and a little inspiration.

Here’s my crash course on how to add architectural details to a builder-grade home on a budget.

(spoiler alert: even 100-year-old homes need a little more architecture, too.)

Add architectural detail with a mini barn door

This is our laundry room.

It’s where I store all my dishes and extra candlesticks and dog treats.

It also hosts our trash can which I wanted to hide.

We installed this mini-barn door that slides from side to side to hide the trash.

You can see the entire project here.

window molding how to add architectural detail to your home on a budget

Add height to the space over the window

These are the windows from the farmhouse.  When we bought the house, all the windows were framed with 1″ x 6″ trim.

There was at least a 3-foot gap over the window.  No problem.  Just add a little molding.

Here we added a 1″ x 10″ at the top over the window and topped it off with crown molding and pieces of screen molding.

Next, we painted and caulked it in place like it’s always been there.

You can see all the details of the project here.


Add height to a kitchen cabinet

This is one of the EASIEST ways to make your kitchen cabinets look custom.


That space over the kitchen cabinets is so awkward. No one really knows what to do with it. I added baskets up there and fake ivy and a milk glass collection and topped it all off with all the dust in the world because it was too high to clean.


Add this DIY to your to-do list.

Create built-ins out of kitchen cabinets

One way to add architectural detail to your home is with built-ins. This built-in started with kitchen cabinets.

The drawers and doors on the bottom are actually inexpensive unpainted kitchen cabinets from the home improvement store.

Then, the cabinets were framed out on the top and bottom with boards and molding.

See the before and after and details of the project here.

add a faux fireplace surround

This fireplace mantel was upstairs in what used to be my parent’s bedroom.

When we remodeled the space we took it out and created a faux fireplace surround here in the family room in the back.

The key to making it work?

We added molding and built it in to look like it has always been there.

You can see the DIY on how we added this project to the room here.

transom window how to add architectural detail to your home on a budget

Add faux transoms over the window

Here’s another way we addressed the same issue in the kitchen at the farmhouse. We created faux transom windows over the bay windows overlooking the porch. Simply frame out the top of the window with 1″ x 6″ boards and add a piece of crown molding to the top.

Then miter simple molding pieces to create a faux frame and caulk and paint.

You can see the details and before and after of the project here.

plate rack how to add architectural detail to your home on a budget

Add a plate rack

This plate rack in the farmhouse started off as unused wall space between the dining room and the kitchen.

It was too narrow to put a traditional piece of furniture, so we created a plate rack with by adding a frame of 1″ x 2″ boards.

Next, we added two pieces of screen molding to each shelf.

Then I added a simple recipe to the back of the plate rack.

Just add platters and plates and you’re done.

You can see the entire project here.

When we moved into the new house, we used the same tutorial and built one on the wall in our kitchen.

I haven’t added the recipe yet, but I’m going to.

I just have to find the perfect one to add.

Reuse an old window

In the farmhouse, we created a transom above the space that goes between the living room and the kitchen from an old window.

The window originally had 48 panes.  We created a wall chalkboard from some of them and then added this transom from one of the rows of the window.

We added a piece of molding on the top and bottom to make the window fit.

And so much less expensive than if we ordered it new.

You can see the entire project here.

Paint the back of a bookcase

Okay, so I know this isn’t adding any architecture, but it’s the best way to make a feature of your house stand out.

I painted the back of this bookcase with SW Naval, a beautiful, amazing navy paint.

You can see the details of the how I painted it here.


The amazing thing about adding architectural detail to your home is that the sky is the LIMIT.


We are in the middle of another project right now that I can’t wait to show you. We are adding molding and brass lights to the front of the bookcases in the family room.


Each of these projects are so DOABLE.

All you really need is imagination and a little inspiration to turn a builder’s grade house into a home full of character and tons of architectural detail.

You got this friend.

Truly. 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    The sweetest love story ever is between you and your home. It always brings a smile to my face. Thanks for all the clever ideas.

  2. Image for Rizae Rizae

    I am using your kitchen cabinet hack for my kitchen. I cant wait to see them finished! Thank you for another gorgeous idea.

  3. Image for Marlene Marlene

    You are so sweet to share all these ideas and so glad you did, cause I have used some of them. Ha ve a blessed day.

  4. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Always great to revisit your fabulous design ideas - but holy mackeral that first pic of you and the blue striped shirt pic of you - WOW! Those are two of your prettiest pictures of yourself............and I have been a fan and reader of your blog since the beginning. You must be feeling great. So proud of your accomplishments, KA! WTG!!!

  5. Image for Nan, Odessa, DE Nan, Odessa, DE

    All great suggestions! How can I use an over head cabinets (as seating) tk make a baguette in my kitchen? Please help me.

  6. Image for Vicki B Vicki B

    Love all of these ideas but that plate rack with the recipe behind it ❤️❤️❤️. Ooooh love it so much. Looking around my house to see where i could do this

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