You’ve watched your new home being built from the ground up. You’ve seen the plans and chosen the fixtures. Maybe you’ve even watched the foundations being poured or the roof finished. And now the waiting is finally over – it’s time to move in.
We know, we know. You want to start putting your own personal stamp on your new home right away. But there are a few key decorating rules to keep in mind with new builds. We spoke to experts at the NHBC, and several home construction companies to pull together everything you need to know about new home decorations, and what you should – and shouldn’t do!
Your home needs time to settle
With all the beautiful patterned wallpapers out there, we totally understand why a feature wall may be calling your name – but builders recommend leaving 6-12 months between move-in and wallpapering.
But why? New building materials, such as the timber in the walls and fresh plaster need time to dry out – and it’s best if they dry out slowly. As your walls dry, you may notice small cracks forming. This is totally normal, but it may damage wallpaper, and if any additional work needs to be done by your building company, such as fixing any problems that may occur, that would also spell the end of that lovely new botanical printed wall.
There are ways you can minimise cracking and movement from the drying process though. Try to be sparing with the central heating during your first winter in the house to allow walls and joinery to naturally expand and contract with the seasons, and open the air vents in your windows to keep a gentle flow of fresh air.
And if you just can’t stand your white walls, you can always reach for the paint. As long as you use a breathable paint, like a matt emulsion, this will not affect the drying process. Just remember to keep some paint saved for touch-ups if required.
From the floor to the ceiling
Painting your skirting boards? Remember that new woodwork tends to absorb a lot of paint or stain, so don’t be alarmed if your first painting doesn’t give as good a finish as you were expecting. As your home settles, later decoration will have a more even and weathered surface to take the paint and stain better. But when you do paint it, make sure you have a clean and properly prepared surface that is totally dry to start with. This will help in keeping it looking its best!
And a top tip for ceilings; many new builds have an Artex or similar plastic compound finish which should never be sanded or washed. So if you want to embrace the painted ceilings trends, lightly brush the surface to remove any dust or cobwebs, and then you will be able to paint it gently with a few coats of emulsion to create a custom look.
Tackle the big jobs first
While it might be tempting to start with a simple job first, if you begin decorating your new home with the tougher, messier jobs – like a kitchen update – you could be saving yourself lots of hassle in the longer term. You wouldn’t want someone treading tile grout through your freshly decorated living room, or scratching a newly painted wall while bringing in a new fridge. Perhaps consider doing garden work before laying your carpets. Newly built gardens tend to have more dirt than grass, and bringing in the patio pavers now stops them from staining a beautiful new rug!
Tackle those messy and more difficult tasks first. Then, your lovely decorated rooms are more likely to stay that way for longer!
Expect the unexpected
Be diligent with your snag list, and remember, sometimes, even the professionals get it wrong. If there is something not right in your new home, and your building company needs to make a repair, they won’t redo any of the decorative work that you have done. Sometimes it’s best to wait a few months to try and uncover any hidden problems.
Additionally, before you drill into your new walls, make sure you know what’s behind them! You don’t want to puncture a cable or damage any electrical work that you can’t see. You can help to establish the exact position of cables that are inside walls and flooring with a cable detector to help safeguard you from hapless DIY disasters!
So what can you do to decorate a new build?
As it turns out, quite a lot! There’s no need to put up with a white empty box while you wait for your new build home to properly settle (unless that’s your personal style!). There are plenty of decorative tasks that you can tackle straight away to help your house feel like a home.
Window dressing is a big one. Blinds and curtains are not only a great way to regulate temperature and add privacy to your space, they’re also perfect for adding a bit of personality. There are lots of stunning styles available; velvet drapery could be a perfect match to our Sydney accent chairs, while a brightly patterned print can add a modern twist to a room. Throw rugs are another fantastic way to add colour and softness into a room, and have the added benefit of being easy to move if work needs to be done. Scatter cushions and blankets can all add that bit of wow factor to a room.
If you know you’re going to be painting or wallpapering a room in the future, or don’t want to put holes in the wall, but love art, Command hooks are a lifesaver. Sticking to walls with a gentle adhesive, they won’t damage plaster or paint work, and they allow art to be quickly rearranged to your changing tastes – perfect in teen rooms for example!
What other decorating tips have helped you in your new build home? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and share your home style photos with us by using #OakFurnitureLand or tagging us today!