Stone walls, colorful shutters, easy-going gravel, and plants that are allowed to grow into their natural forms make for a pretty and cozy setting. This approach is also low-maintenance and ages well. When people, especially in the US, try to recreate this look they often create an unnaturally pristine version and miss out on the perfectly imperfect charm.
^ Even fully-paved narrow alleys can be charming with colorful stucco, shutters, and wild and free potted plants.
I fully agree with Thomas Jefferson's quote below. I used only the essential parts of it on the image, highlighting a simple life with friends and books being preferable to power and luxury. Here is the full quote; "I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give."
Background image is from here and I added the quote to it.
I love succulents and cacti. Besides using low water, low maintenance, and looking beautiful, they also create very little or no litter which make them excellent choices by pools and ponds. And, as the pictures below show, you can create very lush landscapes using various cactus plants and succulents.
There are many types of garden paths and many ways to build them but the simplest to make using the most natural materials are the ones that are usually the most attractive. Gravel, flagstone, river rocks, or some combination of those closely laid together over sand create long lasting garden paths that make simple DIY projects. The resulting organic appearance creates a great compliment to the landscape around it and has a lot character.
Such paths are also very cozy and zen looking and add to the relaxing charm that a yard and garden should provide. These paths are also very forgiving and flexible. Maintenance is easier. If one of the pieces start rocking and need to be changed or reset, it is much easier to do. If you later decide that you want to make your path wider/narrower, or add/remove a section, these changes are much easier to make. And if one day you decide to completely remove it, most of the stones can be reused in another project.
^ Found materials such as bottles, or stamped bricks, or other mementos can be added for more personalization and character.
Sources: Image 1. I can't find a reliable source for any of the other images. I found them on pinterest but the source websites are either not up anymore or they link to malicious sites. If any of them are yours or if you know their sources, please let me know so I can link/reference them.
Shiny and gritty surfaces, old and new, copper and stainless steel, solid and patterned tiles, light and dark colors, can not only be used together, but it actually creates more interesting rooms when they are.
As with any other room/space, a mix of different textures, materials, and colors add a lot of visual interest and help create kitchens with character. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
Mixing various styles, colors, textures, patterns, and materials creates visual interest and is a vital part of creating rooms with character. The opposite starts happening when you keep all those factors similar; you get a less lively, bland, and less satisfying look.
There are other benefits (that sometimes get overlooked in decorating) to this approach as well. It accommodates life and self expression better. Be it artwork, furniture, or something else, most of us like (and may acquire) a variety of items over the years and they would more easily fit in settings like these and even add charm. Also, things get broken, or worn out over time. It is easier to find suitable replacements and you will have more options to choose from when you already have a variety of styles, a more honest to life decor. A restricted color palette/theme/style will not accommodate those situations as well.
Fixes and repairs can add useful life to things we love and appreciate. When highlighted, instead of hidden, they can also add character and beautiful flair. Visible repairs also make these objects uniquely ours and allow us to appreciate all the times they've served us.
^ Butterlfy joints hold splitting pieces together and look great.
^ Crushed turquoise or other colorful resins can fix knot holes and deep cracks in wood while adding character and style.
^ Fixing damaged and worn clothing can be an opportunity to add style to an obviously much loved item we want to keep. Elbow patches, which add casual and cozy style, are great examples of good-looking visible mending.
^ Custom cover-ups are also a practical way to add personalization and color to otherwise in-good-shape pieces that just have certain spots that tend to get destroyed. If you are not a fan of this look and style, the same can be done with other fabrics/colors, etc, of course.
^ Kintsugi is the art of fixing broken ceramics with gold. Japanese consider these pieces more beautiful for having been broken. I agree. A similar method can be used to fix cracks in other surfaces, like concrete floors, as they have done in the image below.
^ beautifully and interestingly fixed wooden floor