NEW BUILD PROPERTY DOESN,T HAVE TO MEAN LIVING WITH BLAND DECOR !
There are many benefits to buying a brand new home , but sometimes a box-fresh space can feel a little soulless.
HOW TO ADD CHARACTER TO YOUR NEW BUILD HOME –
That sense of history and life and character can be missing when you walk into a new build………but don’t let that worry you if you are investing in your first flat or perhaps a smart new build apartment to rent out in London , there are all sorts of ways to add some atmosphere……..Its surprisingly easy to add depth and personality with our suggested ideas…..
BOLD PAINT COLOURS – Personalize your walls
Perhaps the most obvious way and cost effective way to add instant character to a generic , white – painted new build home is to get the Decorators in and repaint ! but in some carefully curated strong colour tones . I’m the first to admit I love a good ‘ artisan grey ‘ wall but lets not dismiss the power of a punchy paint colour…….Bold walls immediately lend a distinctive personality to any space , not to mention its one of the quickest ways you can transform a room.
Establish first what you want to achieve with the colour ;- do you want to make the room feel cosier….? Or perhaps more airy..? Deep , rich colours will make a space feel cozy and inviting , so ideal perhaps for the living rooms and bedrooms….. Top Tip ; check to see if you can see any other rooms from the room you plan to paint . If so , you’ll want to make sure the colours of both rooms look good together . You dont have to paint the rooms the same colour , but they should be coordinated or tonally compatible.
NATURAL LIGHT & paint colour characteristics –
Take the amount of LIGHT the room has into consideration . Room colour appearance can change depending on how much light the room gets.Also the kind of light in the room is a factor in how the colour looks to the eye….
Natural light will change during the day so what may look pale / warmer in the morning can become entirely different by night.Do lots of paint colour samples on the wall and live with them for a few days , before committing to a final colour palette. Also decide what kind of mood you want your rooms to convey….? Colours can either help create a sense of calm OR rev-up your mood . Decide if you want to feel soothed when you spend time in the room.
Or , if you want to feel upbeat and energised ..!
BRIGHT COLOURS ENERGISE – DARK MUTED COLOURS SOOTHE
*Bright colours energise – dark and muted colours soothe ………..A great way to add some colour without over committing is to paint a ‘ feature wall ‘ in a dominant colour ….which can then have pictures hung on it for some great visual contrast .Also painting areas of colour behind bookshelves and even inside cupboards or open side boards ,even perhaps trims and mouldings ,will add some zing and colour-pop without dominating the entire Interior Decor scheme…….touches of colour when paired with an overall nuetral palette look clean and contemporary but still interesting .
MIX IN A FEW VINTAGE PIECES –
Vintage furniture is a short cut to a lived in look…Why ?? The reason a vintage item will add character is because it will be a totally unique piece – it will have an inherent patina or look ‘ gently aged ‘ perhaps with some surface texture and irregularities , it will feel comfortably warm , a bit like an ‘ old friend ‘ in the room I always say !
Its easy to purchase a few vintage furniture items to mix in with your existing furniture . Auction houses are a good place to browse what’s available , or if you are looking for a particular piece , like a wooden sideboard , or perhaps a vintage leather chair , there are specialist dealers – leather club chairs are always a good investment and often in high demand , particularly if the leather is wonderfully worn into a soft, rich , brown waxy patina..!
For the savvy Decorator , and somewhere I use myself with my clients is this online resource called ” Vinterior ” www.vinterior.com
Its a one – stop – shop for everything vintage and ‘pre-loved ‘ under one digital roof, showcasing and listing dealers from all over the UK . You can save so much time hunting for that particular piece by browsing through the whole site , and you can even put in a particular ‘search request’ if you cannot find what you are looking for.My Top-Tips for key investment pieces are ; vintage wooden sideboards, vintage or feature chairs , quirky floor lamps and old mirrors . These would add instant texture , originality and quirkiness. Talk to us about how we could suggest and blend in some items for your space , Styling is key , be bold , but avoid ‘ shabby-chic ‘ clutter if you want to retain a contemporary aesthetic ..!
FURNITURE PACKAGES -the easy way to get up & running for rental !
New builds often come with ‘ Furniture Packages’ , available to purchase , for a turn-key service.This can be a great time saver and budget friendly , especially if you are proposing to rent out your new build straight away . Many luxury development blocks will have this service available ‘ in house’ when you buy . But, what if you don’t like the furniture packages or there’s no joinery or storage included….?? Talk to us here at C and S Interiors ; we can show you a few effective options at different budget levels for furniture , flooring, window treatments, the lot ..! Remember new doesn,t need to equal bland ……inject your personality onto that space ….its a blank canvas with so much potential to make it your own .
ADD ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES –
Most new builds have plasterboard walls with little or no architectural details . Again, this is a great blank canvas for a buyer to ‘personalize ‘ their new space. Adding wood moldings, wall paneling or plaster-molded details can instantly add some architectural charm and ‘ visual texture ‘ if you like to break up all those blank walls….Plaster Coving ( also known as Cornice ) is a decorative molding that finishes off any room by being applied/attached to where the top of the wall meets/joins the ceiling.
I often describe a good,chunky cornice as the ‘ visual framing ‘ of the room, the ‘ full stop ‘ around the space , the ‘ punctuation ‘ ! There is a huge range of cornice styles from the Georgian , classic , Egg & Dart molding to modern, minimalist , contemporary styles. Something very linear , angular and maybe ‘stepped’ in its profile would work well in a new build .Hallways and dining rooms could benefit from having coving fitted , really denoting those rooms as the communal and entertaining spaces…Similarly with a deep skirting board ; by replacing a small, plain skirting which may come as standard in your new build apartment, with a taller skirting , perhaps with a routed top….you literally help to ‘ visually ground ‘ your space ……they can often look striking painted in a darker colour too ….acting as a frame around the room…..
BOOKSHELVES AND BUILT IN JOINERY / STORAGE –
Be bold with size and SCALE when designing and fitting built in joinery. Size DOES matter ; go floor to ceiling wherever possible…those annoying gaps just act as dust traps .Make sure you measure up fpr pieces accurately to avoid these undercuts and shortfalls.Try to line things up both horizontally and vertically around the room, with doors and shelves all running in an harmonious line . A case of literally ‘ mind the gap ‘ applies…..!
A wall of books is a sure fire way to to add warmth and personality .It immediately says ‘ Library ‘ which suggests a home lived in and loved . Books can evoke a sense of nostalgia cant they……the pre; i-pad era ! Even if you don’t have enough books to fill your bookcase , build it across a whole wall -even around and including arches and doorways …….then simply fill up the space with personal treasures and ornaments ……
that both describe and reflect your interests and personality…..typically those pieces you collect on your travels , or family- inherited pieces perhaps,and of course framed photographs dotted here and there reflect your personality too.
My Books ‘ Top Tip ‘ ;- if you are literally lacking any books in any quantity to fill those shelves , go to charity shops and buy in bulk…..you are looking for large books with aesthetic spines, hardback books, sets of books ( encyclopedias are great , Penguin classics look great spine on ) . History books , art reference books , all work well. You could also try local auctions for boxed ‘ house clearance ‘ books in bulk. And of course, ebay ! The prop-stylists heaven……Theme colours together when arranging them , spine on , for a cohesive , neat look .
ADD YOUR OWN BESPOKE JOINERY – our specialty at C and S Interiors !
New builds can often be lacking in any storage areas – they are deliberately left blank so the new owners can install their own . We specialize in this here at C&S Interiors .We have done bespoke joinery installations at the world famous development of apartments at the iconic Battersea Power Station site in South London . ‘ Battersea Reach ‘ consists of an entire , newly developed ‘ village ‘ complex all around the famous power station , and within the old facade of the famous building itself .Different zones of different style apartments are being converted in stages and then released for sale.
Contact ; batterseapowerstation.co.uk/residential-sales for details . We can work off-plan with you if you are considering a purchase here , looking at how best to maximize your new build prime London property square footage ..!
FEATURES & FOCAL POINTS- creating zones in your space
In period properties, often the inherent focal point would have been the fire place , or perhaps old double-doors or an architectural arch , but in a new build these generally aren,t there.
Reflecting our modern lifestyles today , people are looking to create fresh environments that invoke feelings of wellness , and the decorative aesthetic to be fresh and uncluttered.In contemporary Interior Design , ART and ‘ Picture Walls ‘ are a great way to add that missing
‘ focal point ‘ ….
Large painted canvasses in bright colours look amazing hung centrally on a wall ,perhaps above a large sofa or flanking a dining area like this one here…You dont need to invest in budget busting high – end art ; explore some of the Independent Art Galleries around London, such as www.luminairarts.co.uk , or all the galleries clustered around Shoreditch in London’s East end…
Etsy is also a great resource for affordable Art. This highly creative seller https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/canvasbrushesknives specializes in Modern, Painterly , textured canvases , ideal for brightening up new build apartments . You can see here how I am advocating the use of TEXTURE to add atmosphere and create an emotive response in an otherwise fairly neutral room…….
Large Black & White photographs and prints also look stunning , helping add some ‘ creative edge ‘ to a space. Large portraits , artistic nudes and cutting edge travel photography immediately invoke that feeling of a global , cultural lifestyle . Source independent photographers from places like Tumblr and Instagram if you are on a budget and want something both unique and bespoke to you . Many semi -professional photographers have their works for sale as prints to order via their social media links .
Top-Tip ; if you hang a very large scale architectural image or an image with a sharp angle perspective or strong depth of filed in the middle of your wall , you create a sense of a further three dimensional space ………it really engages your attention and helps the room feel even bigger !
WALLPAPER ADDS CHARACTER –
Wallpaper is another great way to add both depth and visual focal interest to a blank canvas room . Traditionally one would think to cover all walls in a matching pattern or texture , but a more contemporary way to use wallpaper as a focal point is to consider covering only half the wall ; by covering either the top or bottom of the wall ( can be divided with a dado rail or strip of molding ) its a great way to make an impact without overwhelming your space . Contemporary wallpapers that depict faux – paneling or vertical wooden planks are very popular and again add a 3-dimensional element .
If you want to use a very large scale print or even consider a full-scale mural wallpaper , its best to only cover one wall ,to avoid visual overkill . Perhaps pick the longest wall or the wall you look at as you enter the room , so the wall directly opposite your door , so the mural impacts you straight away as your eyes take in the full view . Forest scenes and woodland scenes can look amazing , especially some of the more Scandinavian -style looking wallpapers , in monochrome tones .
WALLPAPER MURALS DEPICTING A PERSPECTIVE VIEW – will add a feeling of perceived space
Rows of Silver Birch trees look particularly contemporary , as do landscapes and mountains …….anything depicting a perspective view . They can look really stunning along a hallway , or as a feature wall in a study or office , creating ‘ a room with a view ‘ even though you may not actually have a window in there !
I often use Wallpaper Direct www.wallpaperdirect.com to source for our clients as they have a huge range all under one digital roof . Also highly recommended are Murals Wallpaper
They carry a diverse contemporary range , and I particularly love this one below, from its ‘ Graphic Collections ‘ , developed to celebrate and mark 150 years since the birth of Matisse ( French abstract artist ) based on his Papieres Decoupes ( paper cut outs ) series of artworks from his later life , they depict the joy and simplicity inherent in Matisse’s works , here printed in earthy tones with pops of Cobalt Blue and Teal Blue ……………a graphic paper like this would add some originality and personality to any new build !
Lastly , for instant impact and to bring literal life – forms into your new build home , is to use HOUSE PLANTS !
Large scale leafy plants will oxygenate your space and add that all important feel-good energy.
Follow us for our August Blog , all about how to incorporate house plants and the different ways they can enhance your home.
The Wellness Zeitgeist and how to live mindfully and incorporate wellness into our everyday lives is a global phenomenon that continues to gather momentum year on year . We all need to continually asses how we can live better……….and how our homes can serve us more efficiently ….
Written by our Interior Design colleague and in-house Blogger , Bella Whiteley . www.bellawhiteleyinteriors.co.uk