By sourcing fireplaces from reclaim yards, eBay or auction houses you can add an instant sense of history, like it has always been there. Architectural mouldings and antique glass all help to produce a statement.
-Josephine Maydon, Ashbrook
There are no architectural details and charming quirks to work with in a new build, but that doesn't mean that you have to live in a characterless space. With a little careful planning it is possible to turn your new build into a home with a lived in feel.
Add something old
A house has to tell the story of the people who live there. It's a big mistake to think that you have to buy everything new simply because the house is brand new - a house filled with only brand new furniture could too easily look like a showroom. Rather plan your design around the things that mean something to you; these pieces tell your story and it will give your new house a bit of history.
A few pieces of old vintage furniture or accessories will add much needed character to a newly built house and make your house feel like a home.
Add Interest with Lighting
Even though lighting can sometimes be very flat and disappointing in a new build, it is easy to use lamps, pendants or other lights to add character and interest to your home. Low level lighting in the form of wall sconces, table and floor lamps will make the room seem warm and cosy. Add a very large pendant over your coffee or dining table to create a statement.
Try finding vintage or antique lights with which you can add a little quirkiness.
I asked Josephine Maydon of @ashbrooklocationhouse how she added character to her new build house and she sent me these beautiful images with some tips on how she did it.
Where architectural moulding up the stairs isn’t an option, a contrasting colour below dado rail level adds a layer of character. An old shelved alcove, found in an antique shop, gives an otherwise plain wall added interest.
The large opening in this open plan room at Ashbrook House has been framed with non structural reclaimed beams to add interest. It’s a wonderful way to detract from the low ceiling of the kitchen.
A great trick to ‘borrow’ light in rooms where there are no direct windows is to incorporate old doors with glazed panels rather than solid ones.
This kitchen is the heart of the house so a reclaimed internal window, glazed doors and fanlights help to bring light in from neighbouring rooms. The imposing chimney breast is made of wood with a lime render to look like stone. It, along with the round window, form the central focus for the kitchen.
Think about your floors, walls and ceilings
Period homes are naturally full of character but you'll be surprised how easy it is to copy some of this in a new build.
Adding a stone or wood floor will go a long way towards adding a lived in feel to a new home. The same goes for panelling and a beautiful wallpaper.
Use soft furnishings to add texture and pattern. Use layers of texture - throws, cushions and rugs. This will create warmth and make a new build feel warm and inviting. Antique or vintage pieces can be given a new lease of life when upholstered in a beautiful fabric. Upholstery is a great way to introduce colour and pattern.
Add Bespoke Built In Furniture
Bespoke built in joinery is a quick way to create depth and add character to a new house. Old houses normally have some built in furniture and this is part of what make older properties full of charm and personality.
A wall of bookshelves is an easy way to add interest and character to a new build. Even if you don't have that many books, you can fill the shelves with photographs or other personal items.
There are no ingredients more important than lots of books, lots of rugs, lots of pictures and lots of dogs to make a house feel instantly old'
- Ben Pentreath
Create a Statement with Shelves
I asked Katie Haynes from River Bespoke how they use their beautiful bespoke shelving to add character to new homes. This is what she said:
The downside of new builds are the very bland, featureless walls often tweaked with the addition of one or two pictures, photos or an artwork. The huge upside is they offer the home owner a chance to create a truly sensational focal point, fortunately there are so many ways of achieving gorgeous results even on a budget with the huge array of shelving and lighting available to us today.
One way to create interest is through shelving; something that’s transformed over the last two decades from predominantly functional to purely decorative. A set of shelves can tell a story of past adventures, create seasonal atmospheres or simply be a place to show off collected items.
I hope this post has provided you with some inspiration and that you'll enjoy trying different ways of adding character to your new home.
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