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, decorate and furnish your home with some beautiful new furniture.

We know you want to start putting your own 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 (National House Building Council), and several home construction companies to pull together everything you need to know about decorating a new build and what you should and shouldn’t do!

Your home needs time to settle

Mint green panelled living room with grey Evie sofa and monochrome art on the wall.

Evie sofa | @new_build_forever_home

With all the beautiful patterned wallpapers out there, we understand why this might be on your decorating agenda, but builders recommend leaving 6-12 months between when you move in and wallpapering.

This is because 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 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 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

Oak Furnitureland Parquet chest of drawers in a living room with a cream accent chair and houseplants.

Parquet chest of drawers | @709_design

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 to keep it looking its best.

And a top tip for ceilings; many new builds have a 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

Neutral kitchen with Oak Furnitureland dining table and cream upholstered scroll back chairs.

Scroll back dining chairs | @amy.elizabeth.home

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

Oak Furnitureland Parquet desk in a peaceful home office with houseplants.

Parquet desk |

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 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.

What can you do to decorate a new build?

Sage green bedroom featuring the Oak Furnitureland Romsey wardrobe.

Romsey triple wardrobe | @insideours

As it turns out, quite a lot! There’s no need to put up with an empty white 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, but they’re also perfect for adding a bit of personality. There are lots of stunning styles available; velvet drapery adds a luxe feel, while a brightly patterned print can add a modern twist to a room.

Throw rugs are another fantastic way to add colour and softness to a room, and they 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 paintwork, and they allow art to be quickly rearranged to your changing tastes, making them perfect in teen rooms for example!

Once the decorating is done, now’s the time to pick your furniture. Oak Furnitureland has pieces for the whole home, designed with longevity in mind and made from quality hardwood and upholstery. Whether you’re looking for a sofa to complete your living room, a bed to finish your sleep sanctuary or a desk for your home office, we’ve got it all.

What other decorating tips have helped you in your new build home? Let us know on Instagram, and share your real home photos with us by using #OakFurnitureland.