When we made the decision to get onto the property ladder, a new build home wasn’t the first place we looked. Like many, we imagined a period property with characterful alcoves and decorative moldings. And yes, that would still be a dream but when it came to considering our budget and ideal location, a new build was the only option, especially as we went for the Shared Ownership scheme. What’s more, we actually purchased off-plan meaning we never even laid eyes on our flat until around a week before the move-in date! But a new build was the right option for us, especially as we used the Shared Ownership scheme.
So before we knew it, we had a blank canvas on our hands. Yes, we’ve accumulated lots of pieces throughout the years. Mark’s vinyl collection met David’s books. Colorful cushions clashed with chintzy framed prints. And there was plenty of yes, no, and veto-ing which we imagine every couple has to go through when living together? We’ve stashed away artwork and we’ve boxed up vases, so when it came to moving in we had plenty of things to inject personality. Fast forward a year and a half since we moved in and we feel like the flat has only just become a home. But how did we do it?
As we said above, new builds are generally handed overpainted all white. And it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to painting. But you know what – paint can be covered, so go for it! It’s also a cost-effective way to completely transform a space, so even if you opt for one statement wall, it will make a huge difference.
We started with our guest bedroom so we could flex our painting muscles, followed by our dark hallway makeover, and now we’re ready and raring to go with the other rooms.
One of the traps that’s easy to fall into when it comes to new builds is sticking with the modern feel of the property. Of course, if you like that look then don’t let us tell you otherwise, but we like flairs of period interiors so we wanted to bring that into the space too. That’s why in the bedroom we installed shutters. Usually seen on bay windows of terraced houses, shutters aren’t the usual choice for new builds but they’re a great alternative to the usual Venetian blinds.
We also see many flats opt for the same window treatments throughout all the rooms but it’s important to consider what the purpose of each room is and adapt accordingly. Fun polka dot roller blinds in the guest bedroom work a charm as we can get away with adding that element of whimsy. And then Venetian blinds in the open plan living room mean we can pull them right up when we want heaps of light in the day and close them over for privacy in the evening.
Our tip is to not be scared of mixing up the window treatments for each room or to feel like you have to keep it “modern” because you’re in a new build. Have fun with it!
We rattle on about artwork all the time – we’re OBSESSED – but it honestly is the easiest update you can make and will completely transform a room. Trust us.
In the living room, we updated the space with a gallery wall which not only adds impact and personality but also camouflages the telly (also thanks to the handy Samsung Frame). In other rooms, we’ve hung just a couple of pieces or grouped them in colorways.
And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Arty birthday cards, magazine covers, or even beautifully designed tea towels are great for framing and you can pick up frames for hardly anything at places such as Ikea, Wilko, or Amazon. Click here for our guide on hanging a gallery wall.
As we said, we love a bit of period injection into a property. And who says that a new build flat can’t have this? Paneling would completely transform a room and is cost-effective and pretty easy to DIY (we’re rubbish so for us to say that it MUST be easy!). We went for Shaker-style paneling for our hallway makeover and this, paired with the moody, dark green walls and creepy portraits, take the space from looking like a new build home to what could be an older property.
When it comes to new builds and modern flats, we see the same interiors time and time again. Such as grey and yellow interior schemes (sorry Pantone, not having it) or minimalist grey and white palettes. If that’s your bag, don’t let us sway you but for us, it’s all about showing off your character in the space. Introduce greenery through plants, add texture by layering soft furnishings and revamp shelves with books, frames, candles, vases, and knick-knacks collected over the years. Dust off heirlooms and let vintage memorabilia shine. We want to see personality, people!
It was definitely through having a place of our own that our style has flourished. In previously rented properties we’ve never been fully able to express our interior tastes. Yes, there has been the much-anticipated butting of heads when it came to decorating but by mixing our love of old and new, period and contemporary and retro and modern, we’ve been able to create a flat that’s us all over.
If, as we had, you’re getting itchy feet and you’re looking at starting your own first-time buyer journey, then why not check out Catalyst? Catalyst is here to help you find a place of your own, whether that’s a boutique apartment in West London or a family house in Oxfordshire. Their huge range of properties, many of which are available through Help to Buy or Shared Ownership, could bring buying your dream home that much closer. What’s more, Catalyst’s developments offer a mix of styles, layouts, and finishes to suit all tastes.
We’d love to hear about your first-time buying journey! Or perhaps you have some amazing creative ideas for revamping a new build property that you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below or get involved in the conversation over on Instagram.
This article was written by David & Mark from Forward Features
London-based duo blogging about interior, trends, design & industry news. Winners of the Best Design Inspiration blog in the Amara Interior Blog Awards '16, Forward Features is the journey of David & Mark, interior geeks searching for domestic bliss in the city.
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