How to Add Charm and Character to Your Home (The Cheap Way)

How to add charm and character to your home (the cheap way)

Have you been wanting to add charm and character to your home’s exterior, but holding off because you’re concerned about the cost?

I’ve been there, and I totally get it! But I’m here to tell you that adding charm and character to your home exterior is possible, no matter how small your budget is!

Like all low budget projects, patience and ingenuity goes a looong way. Today I’d like to show you how we added character to our home without spending a fortune. This is what our home looked like when we bought it in 2012:

Now I know what you might be thinking. “Your home ALREADY had character!” Yes! I know. The round door, the sloped roof line, the original shakes. We were definitely blessed with a charming, Tudor style home. That’s why I fell in love with this house! BUT there was so much more potential for character. Here’s a list of the features we’ve added since moving in 5 years ago:

  • Shutters
  • Window Boxes
  • Flower Beds
  • Stone Edging
  • Stained Porch
  • Fresh Paint (door and shutters)
  • New Light Fixture
  • Rockers
  • Stacked Stone (along porch base)
  • Fence

And this is what our home looks like today:

English Cottage influenced yard and gardens tour home exterior
Cottage Inspired Home Exterior

Huge difference, right?! Now obviously it took us 5 years to get to this point. But I’m here to encourage you today, because all of these improvements were so affordable and so doable even on the smallest of budgets.

So here’s my first tip if you’re looking to save some money on your home’s exterior.

Before Hiring Someone, Ask Around!

Do you know someone who has a beautiful garden? Someone that might have extra building materials on hand? Someone who has a whole lot of “do-it-yourself” knowledge?? Talk to them!! One of the BEST things I did when we bought our home was to involve family and friends.

I knew I wanted a flower bed in our front yard, but I had no idea where to start. Since my mother-in-law has a green thumb and beautiful gardens in her own backyard, I went to her for help. Guys, not only was she so excited to give me a hand, but on top of that she got all of the stone we used to border my flower beds for FREE from a friend! She had connections! And did I mention that a lot of my flowers and herbs came from her garden as well?!

Rustic Garden Charming Elements to Home
Charm and Character to exterior of home using gardens
Using beautiful gardens to add charm to home

I know it can be scary at times to ask people for help. They might say no, they might let you down. But what’s the harm in asking? You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Do As Much As You Can Yourself

I’m not gonna lie. I dislike the amount of time and work (and most of the time, tears) that DIY projects take vs. just buying new. But when you’re working with a low budget, you’ll save SO much if you just do it yourself.

If you’re looking to add charm to your home exterior, one of the fastest ways you can add character is with window boxes and shutters. They can add color and depth to a home that feels flat or lacks interest.

Our shutters and window boxes were both DIY projects, and while they may have been time consuming, we saved a lot by building them ourselves! Plus we were able to make them look exactly how we envisioned rather then settling on something pre-made.

Be Patient

This might be difficult when you have a vision but no money. Ha! Believe me when I say that I KNOW the frustration! It’s always worth it, however, to wait. Just wait. Shop around. Hold off until the end of the season. Look for sales. Check the clearance section. Go to thrift stores and garage sales. Take advantage of birthdays and anniversaries!

Some of the hydrangea bushes in my garden were birthday gifts! So were the rockers on our front porch. The planter and watering can were thrift store finds.

How to add charm and character to your home

Probably one of my best scores EVER was the stacked stone wrapped around the base of our porch.

Elements for a cottage style home exterior

I had always wanted stone somewhere on the outside of our home, but stone can be pricey. This past spring I went garage sale-ing with my sister, and we were having zero luck. Near the end of day we stopped at a sale and I happened to know the owners. I noticed 4 boxes of stone in their garage, and they wanted thirty bucks for all of it! But wait, it gets better! When I told them I was interested, they asked if they could just trade their stone for some plates they saw at my garage sale that same day.

Stone to use on cottage style home exterior porch

Since the plates they wanted were hand-me-downs, I essentially scored all of that stone for FREE. Like I said before, it’s hard to wait. But having a little patience can totally pay off!

Stone porch on cottage style home
charm and character of cottage style home exterior

I hope that some of these tips helped you guys. Believe me when I say I am no expert when it comes to gardening or curb appeal. However, my home is proof that cottage charm and character can be achieved on even the smallest of budgets. Here’s one last before picture of our home when we purchased it 5 years ago.

And here it is today!

English Cottage influenced yard and gardens tour home exterior

Charm and Character of Home Exterior
Cottage home exterior makeover adding charm and character

I hope these affordable ways to add charm and character to your home were a help to you friends! What ways have you used in your own home? I would love to hear in the comments! Thanks much for stopping by!


How to add charm and character to your home (the cheap way)


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  1. Love what y’all have done! Such encouragement in this when we are patient and not afraid to ask. Great job!

  2. Awesome job! Yes, this summer I have had to be disciplined with PATIENCE. May I ask what color you used for your door and did you buy special “door” paint or just exterior? Lastly, I would like to build flower boxes as well and did some Pinterest searching—any plans/layouts? Tips?
    Thanks so much! Kacie introduced me to you, so excited for you and your awesome opportunity, they all adore you! You should be very proud of your work girlfriend!

    1. Thank you Emily! How sweet that Kacie told you about my blog! 🙂 Yes, it’s an amazing opportunity and I’m having a lot of fun with their family! 🙂 The color of my front door is “Compelling” and it’s by True Value Hardware. I used exterior paint. Unfortunately I don’t have plans for our window boxes yet!! That’s something I really need to post about! 🙂 Thanks again for reading Emily!!

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    1. Oh thank you so much for referencing my blog and sharing such sweet and thoughtful words!! That means so much to me! 🙂 Your blog is beautiful and so inspiring! Have a wonderful Labor Day! 🙂

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  6. Hello! I just joined your blog today and I want to tell you how much I love your home! You and your husband have done a wonderful job! I am envious of that round entry door and sloping roof, as well! God bless you for your inspiring faith story and I am so looking forward to reading your past posts, as well as new ones! Keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Sandi! Oh my goodness, your comment just made me smile sooooo big!! You have NO idea how much that means to me! Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me that 🙂 And yes, the round door and sloped roof are just so special 🙂

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  12. Thanks for sharing your insight & photos! You have such a beautiful home! I just bought my home last month, and I am having a landscape designer redo my front yard. So I’m hoping to save some money on the extra decor and accents for my porch and patio. I love your idea to use birthdays, thrift stores, and garage sales to get items! I’m totally going to do that instead of spending a fortune at Hobby Lobby haha!

    1. I am so happy to read that! I hope you love your new home and everything comes together perfectly for you!

  13. Adorable adorable house. Nice job improving what was already a good base. Congratulations! I would like to see the inside!

  14. I was looking for inspo for our new home and came across this page. Love the changes! Im wondering what plants you added the hydrangea bed and what zone you are in 🙂 our new house has a mixture of hydrangeas, bird of paradise , palm trees and roses. An odd mix.

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