How to add character to a new build home

There are so many great advantages to buying or renting a new build house, but they can often lack character and personality that older homes might naturally have.

It can be challenging to know where to start when it comes to putting your own stamp on such a blank canvas. That’s why we’ve put together easy ways that you can bring character, as well as some tips from some of our favourite new build customers.

How to transform your new build

Try panelling

Panelling is so in right now, and for a good reason. Adding wood panelling is a relatively easy DIY project but can absolutely transform your space, and add so much character. Interiors  blogger, The Velvet Home, has some great advice on panelling in a new build:

‘This is a feature of many period properties which instantly adds character to your home. We live in a new build and doing this in a few rooms of our home has given the space a new lease of life!’

Different panelling styles can create different looks. If you’re focusing on character, choose panelling styles that emulate older homes and add texture to the space. When it comes to choosing which style you want, there are so many options:

‘For a modern take on panelling, you can go for a shaker style design, or for a more classic, elegant feel, try adding some Parisian style panels to the room. If you’re not feeling brave enough to panel a large space, try adding a dado rail or some ceiling coving to get a similar effect.’ – @the_velvet_home

Shay bedside table (@athome_withwinston)

Paint the walls

Often new build developers will leave the walls white to make the house appeal to anyone and everyone. Painting is such an easy way to bring life and colour to a space. Just remember to wait until the drying-out process has completed, which is often nine months to a year after the house was built. If painting the walls seems like too much of a task, @the_velvet_home has some great advice to add character – quickly.

‘White skirting boards come as standard in homes – but I’ve always wondered why. A lick of paint on your skirting boards or woodwork can completely transform the feel of a room and adds some character to your home at a low cost. For extra impact you could even paint your internal doors!’

Be bold with a deep warm shade on every wall to add a homely feel, or go retro and consider painting large shapes on the walls. Especially if done in neutral colours, these shapes can offset a very square white room beautifully.

Brooklyn TV unit (@stylingourabode)

Commit to a colour scheme

Another way to add character to a new build is to create an overarching theme that really makes the space feel like your own.

‘Pick your colour scheme and have it running throughout the house. I have chosen black, white, green and gold along with natural woods/rattan. I have hints of it in each room which makes the house feel as though it flows.’ – @mypetitenewbuild

A stunning example of this is @biancawildinghome’s gorgeous living room which is a monochrome dream. By leaning into the monochrome colour scheme the room gains its own identity and unique style.

Jensen sofa (@biancawildinghome)

Invest in characterful furniture

Missing old wooden beams? No problem – just get your fix with characterful wooden furniture instead, which can be great for creating a cosy space. As @athomewithsamantha suggests, ‘a neutral colour scheme that’s enhanced with wooden furniture and your fabric choices help to give a new build a modern country feel.’

Go for pieces with a lot of visual interest or texture, like our Parquet range. When choosing your furniture, err on the side of warmer wood tones to bring the cosy vibes. If you want to use painted furniture, choose something with a traditional country home style, like the Shay or Kemble ranges, to balance out your modern home.

Most of all, just fill the space with furniture that you love. The more things that surround you that have character and give you joy, the cosier and more homely the house will feel.

Parquet double wardrobe (@mypetitenewbuild)

Use plants, flowers and grasses

There’s nothing like bringing the outside in to make a house feel like a home. Get some leafy houseplants and use them to bring life to your space. When choosing your flowers and plants, think about levels – hang some from the ceiling and put others on plant stands on the floor to break up the space and create character. @mypetitenewbuild suggests ‘trailing plants up high is a great way of adding interest and colour to white walls.’

Don’t think you’ll be able to keep house plants alive? Just stick to dried grasses. They’re super on trend and perfect for adding texture and life to a neutral space.

Accessorise

Often a characterful home is all in the details. Don’t forget to accessorise your space with furniture and items that have lots of texture, like woven rugs or baskets, large wall art, and dried grasses or house plants – all of these will add personality to your space. As @no.60x says, ‘my top tip is having the right balance, make it your own, don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone!’

Dorset dining set (@no.60x)

As @athomewithsamantha told us, ‘the finishing touches are so important for giving a new build home character as they are what make your home reflect who you are. I love using wicker baskets, ceramic jugs and artificial flowers!’

Shay Dining Set (@athomewithsamantha)

Fill your home with your favourite accessories – trinkets you’ve collected over the years, pieces that have been passed down or gifted, and don’t forget about texture. This goes a long way to making your home more lived in, as well as unique to you.

You don’t have to spend a lot on accessories to make an impact. Think affordable glass tealights, candle holders and large vases are great for adding depth to your decor. If you want to emphasise the cosy, make sure to look for things that are colourful, warm-toned or full of texture.

‘Make small changes so that your house doesn’t feel like every other new build out there. It doesn’t have to cost the earth’ – @mypetitenewbuild

Parquet sideboard (@the_velvet_home)

Add a fake fireplace

This isn’t the quickest or easiest DIY, but can completely transform a space. If you’re desperate to add a lot of character to your home, then consider adding a fake fireplace. It will add so much character, meaning you get all of the benefits of a new build but the aesthetic of original features that make older houses so great. This is something @athome_withwinston swears by, ‘a newer house is just easy, but sometimes hard to make your own. Having a fireplace was key for us’.

There’s lots of ways to style your fireplace that aren’t traditional too – even just a long beam of wood can create a super modern looking fireplace while still adding character.

Kemble large sideboard (@greigehareinteriors_)

Create cosiness with lighting

Lighting makes such a difference to a space and is a really easy way to up the character and cosiness of your home. Consider dotting floor and side table lamps around the room to create different light sources at varying levels. If you’re feeling handy, you could even add some wall sconces behind your sofa as reading lights, as this can make your living room super snug!

Shay bookcase (@athome_withwinston)

Show off your personality with art

One of the best ways to personalise a new build is by putting up some art. If you’ve got art that you already like, great – just buy some frames and pop it up.

If you’ve got kids, you could even get them to do some cute drawings and frame them – just make sure to only give them paints that match your colour scheme.

Adding personality is something that @biancawildinghome emphasises the importance of: ‘Always remember how much a personal touch can make your new build stand out from the rest. Make use of personal photos as a gallery on the wall, or display family heirlooms as a focal point to make your house a home.’

Even if you just put up some photos of you and your family, having something hanging on the walls will help break up all that empty space and add personality to your home.

Hopefully, these tips will fully equip you to create a new build full of character and your individual personality. If you try any of these out we’d love to see your style! Tag us in your photos on Instagram use #OakFurnitureland so we can see your new characterful home.