Buying a new home is up there as one of lifes most exciting experiences, and with a new build, you get that added jazz hands fanfare that freshly painted walls, new carpets throughout and sparkly chrome taps bring. But like any house move you have to start to think fast about how you can make this shiny new box feel like a home that reflects your style and is truly a home to feel proud of.
So no surprise my first tip is to start rolling out the colour on your walls, even if it is for a softer neutral (shudder!). Regular followers to this blog will know pure brilliant white is a complete design crime but you’ll find most new build properties are rolled out in white to offer you the blank canvas to work with. Bright white is a very hard colour to live with. It can appear harsh and stark in the bright sunshine and then dank and depressing in north facing rooms. So first up, it’s gotta go!
A softer colour will also look more forgiving against any existing furniture you bring in too as bright white can make old and vintage pieces just look tatty. I know it’s hard when some things have just been newly decorated but this is really crucial to making your new build feel like home.
But really, as with any new home, it’s really worth investing in discovering what your colour palette is. Those are the colours that really lift you up and give you joy. Having a new build gives a wonderful feeling of starting something from scratch, a fresh white canvas on which to print your own sense of style. So invest time exploring your own personal taste. When faced with designing a whole house, it can feel overwhelming, so I often suggest you can begin by looking in your wardrobe and taking inspiration there. What colours do you completely love, that make you feel your best? Look out for your favourite patterns and fabrics in there too. Are you an understated grey marl cashmere type or all big tassel earrings and gipsy dresses. Next hop on over to Pinterest to discover styles and colours you love, and you don’t even need to be that literal. Start to look for images that create the feel that you are trying to create and then you’ll start to see a colour palette emerging. Group your ideas into boards and then print some hero images off to make a mood board that can help you design any room in your home.
Mood board by Kimberley Plestead
Have a decorating Budget
A new build comes with the huge perk of piece of mind that everything is new, and comes with a lengthy guarantee. Unlike buying a renovation project, you aren’t going to be hit by any nasty surprises. But I strongly maintain that you still need a decoration budget. I’ve already established why you’ll need to paint out that stark white but next you may need to assess what furniture you bring into your new build. If you are downsizing, there is a big chance that the furniture from your past home is just too large in scale, or you simply have too much. Now it’s time to do some measured floor plans and work out if your existing furniture has a place in your new home.
If you are upscaling to a larger family home, the same might apply in reverse. For family homes, I’d urge you to have STORAGE on the top of your list! Nothing will stop your pristine new home looking less than fabulous than stuff all over the worktops, toys on the floor and paperwork on the dining table. This is especially challenging in open-plan spaces, so make sure you factor in a sideboard, toy storage and wall cupboards so everything can be tidied away out of sight.
Measured floor plan showing placement of furniture. Drawing by the Sketchuphub
Make your new house feel like home
One of the biggest challenges to designing a new build is adding character. While you may have been sucked in by the glossy show home, it’s now time to make your new home feel like yours. You can quickly make your new build feel like home in the way you style it. Once you have nailed your unique colour palette you can start adding interesting details in the soft furnishings, cushions, artwork and accessories. Our British supermarkets are a great place to look for on-trend homewares at affordable prices. Invest in sumptuous textures like wool, velvet and marble to make your home feel as good as it looks. Pick out paintings and artwork that celebrate the things you love and frame up family photos to make a collection that will be unique to you and tells your story. A large-scale rug in the living room and master bedroom will help to break up the neutral carpets. Switch up light fittings into pendant lights that really make a statement about your personal style. I always think pendant lights are like jewellery – they really add the finishing touch to a scheme and complete the look.
And it doesn’t have to be all new. Just because you have a new build doesn’t mean you have to fill it with shiny new furniture. A few well-chosen vintage pieces can help to soften the look and make the new space feel more authentically yours.
A new build provides the perfect blank canvas to inject your own sense of style
For more ideas and interior design inspiration, I’ve produced some more content and helpful videos over on the New Homes week website which you can enjoy here, as well as discovering about the benefits of buying a new build home.
This blog post is part of a paid partnership with New Homes week who invited me to share my expertise on how to decorate a new build home.
For more information on the interior design process, read more about my online course here.