Buying a new build home comes with a lot of advantages, their excellent insulation means you don’t have to worry about being cold in the winter and will keep your utility bills low. You also (hopefully!) won’t have to worry about damp, leaky roofs, or ominous cracks appearing in the walls, or any of the problems that are almost de rigueur of Victorian homes today.
On the downside, these homes can be a bit…bland. Property developers design these homes to appeal to the broadest demographic possible, eschewing interesting design elements or innovation for more refined and conservative aesthetics. However, many feel that these please-all design choices, don’t really actually please anyone and result in characterless, boring interiors.
But if this feels a bit like your new build home then there's no need to despair. There are loads of improvements both large and small you can make to a new build to breath a bit of life into it and transform it from merely being your house, to being your home.
Start with the kitchen
For many of us, the kitchen represents the heart of the home, it’s no longer just the space where we cook. It’s where we unwind at the end of the day, where we entertain and where we do homework and pay the bills.
It’s perhaps no wonder then that statistically, when buying any house, it’s the kitchen most homeowners turn to first with the sledge hammer when thinking about decorating their home more to their personal tastes. Depending on the agreement when you purchased your new build it may have come with a fitted kitchen including appliances.
If this was the case you may unfortunately find that developers cut-costs slightly on these appliances, so if you’re a bit of a gourmet chef you may decide to upgrade, for instance changing a standard electric hob to induction or gas.
When it comes to the actual style of the room, the kitchen is one of the most customisable areas in the home, everything from the cupboard handles to the counter materials and backsplash tiling can be tailored completely to your own taste, so it’s worth taking a little bit of time to think about exactly what you would like from your kitchen. Modern or traditional looking, shabby-chic or minimalist etc. If you’re unsure, then speak to a kitchen expert who can help you achieve exactly what you want.
Don’t neglect your halls and entrance
The main entrance and hallways of a house are sometimes referred to as ‘transition spaces’ as we only really use these areas when travelling from one room to another. They can be easy to ignore when decorating as homeowners wish to focus on the areas that you actually do spend ‘living time’ in.
However, consider the fact that the entrance hall is the space that welcomes you home each evening after work, it’s also the first part of your home that guests will see when they pay you a visit, this surely merits it some TLC.
Hallways in new-builds can often feel a bit plain and soulless, consisting of nothing but some magnolia paint, laminate flooring and recessed lighting. But paying even a small amount of attention to these confluent areas will dramatically increase the character of your new build home. Simply painting or wallpapering the walls, throwing down some rugs and maybe replacing dull recessed lights with pendants could make all the difference.
Remember, that these areas are also great places to display artwork and family photos.
With the bathroom (very much like with the kitchen) fixtures and fittings come in an almost infinite range of shapes, styles and materials. So whether you love art-deco or fancy a Nordic-spa theme anything is relatively easily achievable.
Throwing in some funky traditional or retro looking features is a great way to give a little charm to your WC, but If you’re happy with your bathroom’s aesthetic as-is, then the one change you might want to consider is upgrading the shower to a more powerful model, as this might again have been an area where the developers may have cut corners.
Rip up the floors
It’s surprising just how much of any room’s charisma is contained within the flooring, new-builds tend to offer one of two options in each room, either glossy pine laminate or cream carpeting, so ripping it up and going for something else is a relatively easy way to put down a bit of your own personality.
Whether you go for tiles, flagging, carpet, wood or laminate largely comes down to personal preference (though there are some practical considerations.) However, an inexpensive way to give a room some authenticity is to go for reclaimed flooring.
There’s something about the charms of vintage furniture, whether it’s a old Chesterfield sofa, mid-century coffee table or perhaps an antique rug, that adds a sense of homeliness to a room. Don’t worry, if you’re a massive proponent of chic-modern or minimalist design, you can still fit in a few vintage pieces, you’ll find that the juxtaposition actually accentuates the modern feel of your home rather than detract from it.
You can pick up vintage furniture from auction houses, markets or online. If you want to save a bit of cash scour your local charity shops and relatives’ attics, it’s likely you’ll be rewarded with a few hidden gems.
Fix up the stairs
Lastly, like the halls and entrances the stairs are an artery of the home connecting one part of it to the other. They are also however, a fantastically easy place to add a few personal touches that make a real difference. A lick of paint, a few pieces of art could be all it takes to add some character to both your communal upstairs and downstairs space.
An easy modern look is to go for exposed wooden stairs, washed in a light or pastel colour to achieve that airy shabby chic look to combat that new-build feel that can sometimes feel a just a bit too prim.