10 Ways to Add Character to a New Build House

There are many advantages to new build properties. Most are fitted with convenient modern appliances such as induction hobs and efficient boilers. They are likely to have been constructed using the latest green building practices as well, such as cavity walls which provide better insulation. 

However, there is no denying that certain new build properties lack character as function is the primary focus. While this can be off-putting at first, having a blank canvas allows you to properly put your stamp on your new home.

10 ways to add character to a new build property Pinterest pin

Those looking at new build homes in the local area can prepare for their move with this guide on how to personalise a new build property. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to do!

How to add character to a new build

4 new build properties on a street with green grass in front and a road
Help your house stand out – add character to a new build

If you want your house to stand out from the repetitive new build crowd, there are plenty of things you can do. Adding character to a new build property is important because it helps to create a sense of individuality and uniqueness, making the property feel more like a home.

New build properties can often lack character and personality, as they are designed to be functional and appeal to a wide range of buyers. However, there are many new build decorating ideas you can implement to make it your own. 

Can you add character to a new build?

The short answer, yes!

By adding character, homeowners can make their property stand out and reflect their own personal style and taste. This can also increase the property’s value and appeal to potential buyers in the future.

Here are 10 ways to add character to a new build:

  1. Find your interior style
  2. It’s all about the entrance
  3. Use bold colours
  4. Update the walls
  5. Contrast textiles
  6. Install unique light fixtures
  7. Change the hardware
  8. Look down
  9. Create a focal point
  10. Tend to the garden

Here are some decorating ideas for new builds to get you started.

1. Find your style

Green kitchen cabinets with an island, green and oak bar stools, oversized pendant lighting and plants in the kitchen
Green and wood materials work fabulously together. The easiest way to find your interior style is, to begin by working out what your favourite colours are!

You can’t start decorating until you find your style. Any interior designer worth their salt will tell you that a cohesive theme is the foundation of great home style. Whether you prefer classic, contemporary, minimalist, or rustic, pick a style and try to stick to it.

Even the best artists and architects need inspiration for their creations. Before you start decorating, do some research to get inspiration for your room designs. Magazines based on home interiors or websites such as Pinterest are a great place to start.

a colourful wardrobe with lots of red, pinks, greens and brown jackets, shirts and dresses

Another good way to find your home decor style is to look at your wardrobe.

What colours jump out? Do you prefer a laid-back look with lots of loungewear and comfy clothing, or are you more classic with lots of elegant cuts, natural fabrics and matching accessories such as leather shoes and handbags?

2. It’s all about the entrance

a pink door on a new build house with light brown brickwork and a path leading up to the front door
Ellie paint – Graham and Brown

Most new build properties will often come with a white UPVC front door. These are popular choices for many reasons. They are cost-effective, low maintenance and durable. 

However, if you want your door to stand out from the rest, it is quite simple to do.

Your front door is the first thing people see from outside and can set an impression of what is to come indoors and is one of the easiest ways to add character to a new build. Choosing unique designs and finishes can help homeowners to express their personal style and create a sense of individuality.

anthracite grey contemporary door on a contemporary house
Contemporary front door – Thames Valley Windows

How to add character to a new build by updating your front door – 

  • Replace the current door with a unique style. Think about adding doors with differently shaped windows, or adding stained glass windows. 
  • Go contemporary. Add a door with floor-to-ceiling glass panels and an oversized door handle. 
  • Paint your existing door. It is quite easy to paint your UPVC front door and there is no need to prime it first. There are plenty of weatherproof-friendly paints in many different colours to choose from.
  • Choose a different material. If you want to give your front door a complete upgrade, go for a timber or composite door. Composite is better if you live in a particularly wet or windy area!
  • Finally, think about the front door hardware. Replace your door handles, knockers and letterboxes with brass fittings to give them a wonderfully classic look.

3. Use bold colours

a dark mustard painted wall with panelling, a grey velvet occasional chair and a fringed light shade in the living room
Turmeric paint – Graham & Brown

The reason that new build homes can seem so lacking in character is that they tend to be painted white throughout. Incorporating colour into your property, such as painting the walls or fitting vibrant carpets, is a quick way to add personality that is nevertheless impactful.

Bold colours can add visual interest and depth to a space. They can be used to highlight architectural features or create a focal point in a room, making the space feel more dynamic and engaging. They can also be extremely warm and inviting and help to create a cosy and intimate space or make a room feel more lively and energetic.

Painting a room a bold colour is one of the easiest ways to add character to a new build. 

a dusky pink and orange kitchen with brass fittings and a white worktop
Robens Honour – Paint and paper library

There are many bold colours that can be used to add character to a new build including – 

  • Deep blue – adds a sense of sophistication and drama to a space. It can be used to create a cosy and intimate atmosphere or to make a room feel more luxurious and stylish. Pair it with gold to give it the ultimate luxury look
  • Rich green – creates a natural and earthy look, and is a great choice for properties with a focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness. It can be used to create a calming and serene atmosphere or to add a pop of colour to a neutral space.
  • Velvety reds and browns – think hot chocolate or lattes and throw in a deep burgundy red! These colours are perfect with neutral tones and can help add a focal point to a room.
  • Vibrant yellow – hear me out! Vibrant yellow can add a sense of optimism and happiness to a space and make a room feel more bright and more cheerful. It has a huge impact on a room so go for mustard or brown tones so it doesn’t become overwhelming.
dark green in the bathroom with panelled walls, a white roll top bath with gold feet and a gold sunburst mirror
Eva Paint – Graham & Brown

4. Update the walls 

panelled frames are added to the wall in this bedroom and painted a sage green. There is a chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a gold framed bed
Venetian sage duvet cover – Graham & Brown

As well as painting the walls, which is one of the most cost-effective decorating ideas for new builds, there are other ways you can add character to your new build property to make your home feel unique. 


Panelled walls have been around since the 13th century and have seen a huge surge in popularity in the last couple of years. You can now buy panelling packs from all major DIY stores so they are nearly as easy as painting to installing! 


sage, pink and yellow floral wallpaper in a living room with pink velvet chair
Wildflower Sage Floral Wallpaper – Amazon

Wallpaper is still a bit marmite, you either love it or hate it. A lot of people still associate floral wallpaper with their grandparent’s houses, outdated and fussy!

However, I love floral and nature-inspired wallpaper as it can add texture, colour and pattern to a room and help break up the monotonousness of a painted wall. 

Accent walls

a wood-panelled wall with white metro tiles, pattern tiles on the floor and a crittall shower screen in the bathroom. There is a huge round mirror on the wall
Image credit: @seasideterrace_

Accent or feature walls are often frowned upon in the interior design world, but I think they are perfect if you are not sure you want to go full colour in a room. Feature walls can help break up the white paint in a room without committing to going completely bold. 

An accent wall doesn’t have to be painted or wallpaper either. You can create a brick wall with brick slips or use a material like reclaimed wood to create a feature wall in the bathroom. 

Gallery walls

floral and nature-inspired gallery wall next to a mid-century sideboard and blue velvet chair.
Adding a gallery wall is one of the easiest decorating ideas for new builds

I absolutely love gallery walls and have a few in my home. Creating a gallery wall can add a personal touch to a room by choosing your favourite artwork, photos or prints and displaying them in a cohesive and well-composed way. 

5. Contrast textiles

light sage green walls around a large sash window, and large pink lampshades are on the tables next to the button-back sofa which has floral throws and striped cushions. There is a coffee table with a vintage vase and books in the foreground
The beautiful home of @hillhousevintage shows us how cottage-core is done right!

In addition to incorporating colour, featuring contrasting textiles is a great way to bring life and character to a new build home. Pair wood and metal furnishings with flat woven rugs and cushions for an appealing blend of contemporary style and homely comfort.

One of the biggest trends in recent years – cottage-core, is all about mixing patterns and bringing depth into a room. Cottagecore is a cultural aesthetic that celebrates a romanticised ideal of rural life. It is often associated with traditional crafts, vintage fashion, and a love of nature.

If you are not looking for decorating ideas for new builds, follow these simple ideas to add character to a new build. 

  • Pairing a floral-printed cushion with a striped throw or a plaid rug can add contrast and interest to a room.
  • Using different textures can create a tactile and inviting space. For example, pairing a velvet sofa with a woven rug or a knit throw can create a cosy and inviting atmosphere.
  • Layering textiles can add depth and dimension to a space. Start with your base layer like a sofa or bed linen, then choose a different texture to layer over the top. For example, if you have a leather sofa, layer it with a soft and fluffy throw or woven blanket. Finally, add some patterned textiles like curtains or cushions. 

6. Install unique light fixtures

glass chandelier with blue floral wallpaper in the background
Laura Ashley Enid Cut Glass 5 Light Chandelier – Next

As well as the white-washed walls, bright overhead lights can make new build homes feel stark. Intense lighting can also have a negative effect on your mood.

Bringing in lamps for softer lighting options allows you to match rooms to your mood, such as creating a relaxed atmosphere for evenings in the living room. You can also use lights to illuminate key pieces of furniture or artwork.

Unique lighting fixtures can add character to a new build in several ways and help with the ambience of the room. Chandeliers are classic and elegant lighting fixtures that help add a touch of luxury to a room. They come in a variety of styles from traditional crystal chandeliers to modern and minimalist designs. 

Pendant lights are a versatile and stylish lighting option that can be used in a variety of spaces, from kitchens to living rooms.

They come in a range of sizes, shapes, and materials, allowing homeowners to choose a design that complements the overall style of the property.

two fluted wall lights either side of a mirror in a bathroom with light teal painted walls and a marble sink
Roddy wall light – Pooky

Wall lights or sconces can add a touch of sophistication and elegance to a room, creating a warm and inviting ambience. They are a great choice for spaces such as hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms or dining rooms.

Table lamps can add a cosy and intimate atmosphere to a room, while also providing task lighting for reading or working. They come in a range of designs, from vintage-inspired styles to modern and minimalist designs.

7. Change the hardware

black long handle on an oak door
Door handle – Corston.com

In new-build properties, standard hardware is often used throughout the property to maintain a consistent and cohesive look.

Door handles are typically made of a standard metal finish, such as brushed nickel or chrome and light switches are often a simple and standard design, with a plastic cover plate and a simple switch or dimmer. 

Changing the hardware, such as door handles, cabinet pulls or light switches, can help create a cohesive look throughout and instantly add character to a new build. If you choose hardware with the same finish, such as matte black or brushed gold, it can tie together the overall design and create a unified look.

Choosing hardware with a vintage or rustic style can create a traditional or cottage-style look, while modern hardware can create a sleek and contemporary feel to your home.

a dark green kitchen with marble backsplash and parquet flooring. There is statement lighting above the island and cane webbing barstools
Changing the hardware on your doors, cupboards and light switches can make all the difference in your new build home. Image credit: Magnet

Upgrading the hardware to high-quality and durable materials can also make the property more attractive to potential buyers or renters, and add long-term value to the property.

8. Look down

Changing the flooring is a great way to add character to a new build. Image credit: Paint and Paper Library

Changing the flooring in a new build property can be a great way to give it a fresh new look. Most new builds will come with laminate or grey carpets, but if you are looking to stand out from the crowd, look at changing your flooring. 

If you want a modern and contemporary look, choose a material such as hardwood, laminate, or luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) that has a sleek finish. For those in search of residential or commercial flooring options, consider researching various types, installation methods, and maintenance options related to floor materials and designs.

Opt for a light colour palette, such as light grey or natural wood tones which can help to create a sense of spaciousness and brightness, making the room feel larger and more open.

Charnwood Oak Parquet Block Wood Flooring – Ambience Hardwood Flooring. Arched windows are optional!

Parquet flooring is hugely popular and the perfect choice if you’re looking for a more traditional look for your new build property.

Parquet flooring is made from hardwood which is a highly durable material and can withstand heavy foot traffic and wear and tear. It has a distinctive and elegant look that helps add warmth and character to any space and can instantly add character to a new build. 

Adding tiled flooring to a new build property can be a great way to add durability, beauty and value. There are many types of tile available, including ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, and glass.

Choose the type of tile that fits the overall style of the property and meets your needs in terms of durability, maintenance, and budget.

9. Create a focal point

Arada Farringdon Catalyst in Mist grey

Most new build properties come without chimney breasts. Why? Mainly because chimneys were originally designed to provide a safe and efficient way to remove smoke and other byproducts of burning fuel from indoor spaces. 

These days modern heating systems, such as central heating or underfloor heating, do not require a chimney breast. This means that builders can eliminate the chimney breast without compromising the heating system’s efficiency or effectiveness.

Unfortunately, this means a lot of new builds lack a focal point in the living room and can be bland and resemble a white box. 

However, you can still add a fireplace to add character to a new build home. There are several types of fireplaces, including traditional wood-burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces, biofuel fireplaces and electric fireplaces.

Choose the type of fireplace that fits the overall style of the property and meets your needs in terms of maintenance, budget, and environmental impact.

biofuel burner with a brick surround and green cabinets on either side. There is a peony print above the fireplace and a boucle chair in the foreground
We used an Imagin biofuel fireplace when we remodelled our living room as we no longer had access to a chimney. This is perfect to add character to a new build!

Choose the location for the fireplace, taking into account ventilation, safety, and aesthetics. A fireplace should be placed in a location where it can be enjoyed and appreciated, and where it can be safely vented to the outside.

Finish the surround or mantle of the fireplace to complement the overall design of the property. This may involve adding tiles, brick, or other materials to create a distinctive and personalized look.

10. Tend to the garden

a new build garden with grass, lots of plants, raised planters and a decking area with chairs and a table.
Don’t forget your garden when you are looking to add character to a new build. Image credit: gardenersworld.com

Last but not least – don’t forget the garden!

This may be outside of the walls of your new build, but it is still a part of your property. Tending the garden can be as intensive or relaxed as you like: why not kick off with some simple bedding plants in the borders or turn a corner into an untamed wildlife area? 

Assess the current state of the garden and identify areas that need improvement or enhancement. Consider the size of the garden, the soil quality, the amount of sunlight, and any existing features such as trees or shrubs.

A new build garden can be a barren place, so adding lots of plants, hardscaping like paths and patios and some garden lighting can automatically update your outdoor space. 

By incorporating unique front doors, interesting lighting fixtures, bold colours, and natural elements, you can add character to a new build and create a space that is uniquely yours.

Choosing unique hardware, installing a fireplace, or adding parquet flooring are great ways to add both style and functionality to your property.

The most important thing is to make your new build property feel like home. Use these ideas as inspiration to add your own personal touch and create a space that reflects your style, personality, and needs.

With a little creativity and effort, you can transform and add character to a new build property and turn it into a warm and welcoming home.

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10 ways to add character to a new build Pinterest pin
10 ways to add character to a new build



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