How to add character to a new build.

I’ve always been drawn to older houses,  I was lucky enough to grow up in a Victorian  house and now occupy a 1930’s semi. Both houses had/have a number of interesting period features, think fireplaces, ceiling roses, stained glass, original doors, storm porches and staircases. These much sought after features not only score highly on the character scale, but unfortunately they also bump up the asking price.

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More character than you can shake a stick at. Photo from Pexels



Vintage 1930’s fireplace and traditional dedo rail in our current lounge.

In the current climate, finding a house with the ever elusive character which isn’t buried under 2 inches of shag pile carpet, cat wee and wood chip wallpaper and quaintly labelled a ‘doer upper’ can be a hard task. Many people, particularly first time buyers are priced out of the market and so a new build can be an affordable alternative.

For others a new build offers a blank slate and also peace of mind or less hassle in terms of DIY. I totally get the appeal of moving in somewhere that ‘doesn’t need anything doing’. Although I’m pretty sure I could generate a DIY to do list as long as my arm almost straight away (much to my husband’s dismay), even in the most polished of homes. My youngest sister and her boyfriend are currently in the process of buying a new build in Oxfordshire and asked me for some interiors advice. That got me thinking about styling a new build which is something I’ve not done before (although I have hypothetically styled quite a few rightmove properties in my time). So for anyone who wants to turn their new home blank canvas into a work of art, I’ve put together a list of 6 top tips:


Make an entrance!

More often than not newer properties are on an estate with other houses built by the same developer, in a very similar if not identical style. Make your property stand out by changing up the front door, so it’s different from the others. You could go for a completely different style or simply give the existing door a lick of paint (perhaps in a bright colour if you like to make a statement).

Bright doors

  If you’re a fan of pink, check out the front door of Pink House blog founder Emily Murray ( You’ve guessed it her door is in a delicious shade of pink – Nancy’s blushes by Farrow and Ball to be precise. It’s fun and stylish and makes your home unique. If you’ve not got the funds to replace a door, paint is a great way to add character and FYI it is possible to paint upvc!

New hardware (think door bling not computer geek) is another way of adding character & your own style.  There are some great vintage knockers (snigger) and handles out there that you can salvage and also an extensive range online. I particularly love the brass bee door knocker by Period Features as shown below (click picture for link). The front door is the first impression people will get of your home – make it count!

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Period Features brass bee door knocker


Create a focal point in every room.

 Each room should have a focus, or centrepiece if you will. Usually in older properties this would be created by highlighting those sought after architectural features such as fireplaces, beams or high ceilings. But a new build offers an exciting  blank canvas in which you can create your own. Wallpaper is a fabulous way of achieving this and you can often get away with bolder, more modern prints in newer homes than period properties. Although I like to mix it up by putting these in older houses too.*

*Note: Depending on building methods, you may need to wait a year before wallpapering or painting the walls in a new build to allow for shrinkage.

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Loving this on trend tropical print & note the wooden wall cladding.

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Our fabulous rhubarb wallpaper creating a feature in the dining room extension. Instagram: @decor.junkie

  Also, why not wallpaper the whole room to create a real wow factor rather than just the one wall? Or how about wallpapering the ceiling for a more dramatic, but cost effective statement? If you’re on a tight budget try ebay where you can often pick up excess rolls of designer wallpaper for a lower price or even some vintage prints.

  Another option, is to add in some of the missing architectural features such as fire surrounds, ceiling roses and cornices. This can add interest and make rooms less of a blank box, although less is probably more if you don’t want your place to look gaudy. Try the reproduction plaster company for a variety of different options (

  The focal point doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent fixture, it could be a statement piece of furniture or accessory. For example a velvet sofa in a bold bright, a glamourous headboard, a dramatic mirror or a glass/metal chandelier.

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Instant glamour; Mobile pendant from West Elm.

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Loving this bold print on the Anthropologie Moresque chair.











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Add wow factor with bold brights,  Tivoli sofa from Swoon Editions.

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How about a rainbow runner? This colourful Ourika rug is from La Redoute. Instagram: @decor.junkie


Add a splash of colour. 

Paint is the easiest and quickest way to add some personality to your home. Not being shy of a paintbrush or a bold colour palette myself, I can often be found adding a lick of paint to walls or furniture around our house. Although I usually end up with more paint on me than the actual walls, so it’s usually best to get the professionals in. Plus you don’t want to have to redo the painting in a hurry.

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The accessories & white sofa really pop against this dramatic blue background.

If you’re colour shy, test out colours on a large piece of lining paper first and move it round the room in different light to see what it would look like. There are a number of different types of colour schemes, which I will be going into in more detail in another post. But for a starting point I always think it’s best to find a print or a pattern or an image that you really love and use that as the basis for your colour scheme. Perhaps a cushion or a rug, or have a snoop around Pinterest for some ‘Pinspiration’.

If you’re still waiting for the walls to dry out before decorating, probably the biggest colour impact you can make is with a large rug. Although it’s worth considering your overall colour scheme and whether the rug will fit in with that later on if you decide to paint the walls.


Let your Artwork do the talking

A brilliant way of putting your stamp on a property of any era is through your choice of artwork. If you have a blank wall – fill it!

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Create impact with art, whatever your style. Photo by Mike Marquez on Unsplash

 You can choose pieces that are personal to you and your family or just quirky pieces you like. If you’re on a tight budget you could even frame postcards, book covers, album covers or find free prints online. If you’re creating a gallery wall, either keep all the frames the same colour or link the pictures together through a similar colour scheme. Scandinavian style posters are bang on trend at the moment and there are a number of websites that have a great choice of prints and pictures (try Desenio or King & McGaw).

 Another fantastic way of curating unique, contemporary artwork is by purchasing Instagram pictures through Post Collective. They’ve made exclusive works of art affordable by turning photographer’s and influencer’s photos into art prints, which I think is such a great idea. Go and take a look …

 When fixing heavier frames or mirrors to plasterboard walls, try to find the timber studs to screw into to ensure that they don’t fall off! For full length mirrors, you could consider leaning them against the wall instead of hanging (ensuring that they are fixed at the top and there’s no danger of falling on little people).

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Modern gallery wall; similar frames and a coordinated colour scheme. Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash


Fixtures & Fittings

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Chances are if you’ve bought a new build, the fixtures & fittings may already be in or you may not have thought about changing them. But this is one simple way of upping the style stakes in your home. For a high end luxe feel Buster and Punch have a fantastic range of metallic toggle switches ( Admittedly they’re a bit pricey, but they practically scream style. I’m also partial to an industrial socket or two ( which can be picked up at a much lower price tag. Although it might not seem like these additions have much of an impact, they can really complete a look & change the feel of a room.


Instant greens.

flower decor

Although not always a permanent fixture, this is a very affordable, quick and easy way of brightening up your home. Try charity shops for a selection of vintage, ceramic and different coloured glass vases, they are usually a treasure trove for this sort of thing.

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A selection of plants and planters.

So there you have it my 6 top tips for styling up your new home. If you or anyone you know is wanting to banish the beige, try out some of the above and your home will be bursting with character before you know it.