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Adding character to a new build

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > Interior Design

Author: Kate Saunders, Posted: Friday, 24th May 2024, 09:00

When we decided to relocate to Gloucestershire in the winter of 2019, I had an ‘Instagram vs. Reality’ moment. In the thick of house hunting, we were plunged into lockdown, and the housing market ground to a halt.

When things started to jolt back to life and we began looking for a house again, we’d also had a new baby arrive and, after months of being at home considerably more often, the urge to get moving was kicking in.

I’d been wistfully imagining a cosy Cotswold cottage or the period features of a Victorian house, or perhaps something art deco-style, like our old house in Bristol. Instead, the property we ended up buying was a new build.

As much as I felt relieved and grateful to have been able to move at all, featureless rooms presented a bit of a challenge. New builds and contemporary homes have a reputation for lacking the charming quirks of older ones. But fear not – there are plenty of ways to add personality to your new build home.

Give your walls a splash of personality

The previous owners had very much kept the ‘cream and white walls’ theme going. I really wanted to give the walls some individuality, so off I went, poring over wallpaper samples. The living room walls became adorned with the ever-popular Farrow & Ball – we papered behind the bespoke shelves we had installed with the stunning Yukutori wallpaper, paired with Stiffkey Blue paint on the rest of the wall.

I was told that if I had to go rogue with any room, the downstairs WC was the one to go for. I took this instruction to heart and went for something from the incomparable Eleanor Bowmer for a feature wall. Their wallpapers are made in the UK and are bound to strike up a conversation when you have guests.

Speaking of bespoke shelves, these are a great way to add charm and depth to a new property. Ours are loaded with books, photo frames and other personal items to add interest. Not only did they add character, but when storage is typically at a premium in new build homes, it felt like a win-win.

Mix up your furniture

Adding lots of pieces of antique furniture to a small room with low ceilings can make it look cluttered, whilst filling your new build with contemporary furniture could risk it looking like a showroom. Consider a few antique accessories or smaller pieces of furniture to add character. GrosvenorHartley on Etsy have a gorgeous range of antiquities and curiosities, perfect for giving your home some distinctiveness.

Textiles to create a mood

We all know new build developers love a grey carpet! If you are able to replace the flooring, you could add texture with Sisal carpet or wooden flooring, layered with colourful rugs. La Redoute have some great options, and I love Ruggable, both for their designs and the practicality of being able to put them in the washing machine – ideal with two small kids!

Other textile accents are a great way to infuse patterns and colours, whilst also playing down any lack of architectural features in a room – think cushions, wall-hangings and blankets.

New builds can be bland, but they can also offer a great opportunity as a blank canvas. Even on a budget, there are many different ways to achieve a stunning living space and to give your new pad the charisma of an older home with a story to tell.

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