Moving to a new build or planning a large extension on your home? Check out these ideas for adding character to your “blank canvas”
A brand-new house or extension is like having a lovely blank canvas on which to put your own design stamp. However, an empty room can be daunting, and it might be difficult to know where to start. Follow this guide for clever tips on how to get the most from your newly built space.
Pick a palette from a painting
If you plan to start from scratch, with new furniture and accessories, you’ll need a jumping-off point for your colour scheme and room design. A large piece of art can be a great starting point to pull a scheme together.
This evocative seascape is reflected by the sofa cushions and ikat rug to stunning effect. Find something you absolutely love, whether it’s a print or an investment piece, and create a mood board based on the key colours. Make sure you keep the scale of the artwork appropriate either to the size of the room or the piece of furniture above which it will be displayed.
Lay art beneath your feet
A beautiful rug can be almost like a painting on your floor. Whether you buy one off the peg or go down the bespoke route, it’s straightforward to then furnish and accessorise the room using the same colour scheme.
Don’t forget to add small doses of accent colours to avoid the space becoming too bland. The shots of dark wood in this room offset the blue, grey and white scheme.
Exploit space in your walls
It’s a good idea to think about storage at the planning stage of a building project; there are lots of built-in options your architect or builder can help you with. Here, the recessed shelving is a neat and attractive use of space, and looks even better with the integrated lighting.
Niches like this are popular in bathrooms, and can be fitted fairly easily into any non-load-bearing wall. It can be messy and inconvenient to retrofit them, so it’s much better to plan them in early on.
Get your bearings
In which direction does your home face? This will be a huge consideration for planning the inside and outside flow. The orientation of a room’s windows will affect how you arrange the layout and which paint colours will work best.
Where the sun falls late on a balmy summer’s evening should be a consideration with patio doors, but also take note of prevailing winds – you don’t want your home to become a wind tunnel every time you open the doors.
Scale it up
Play with the scale of your new space. With a vaulted roof light like this, the oversized pendants balance the space above the dining table and look stunning day and night.
If you’re working with an architect, you’ll most likely see a 3D visualisation of your project. Be bold and listen to professional advice, as you might be surprised by how you can change the look and feel of your room.
Love your light
Design your lighting as soon as you have a floor plan. Work out where you’d like your task, ambient and decorative lighting to go, and decide what types of fittings you’d like. Discuss this with an electrician, who can advise you on all the options.
This is a golden opportunity to avoid the messy jobs of chasing in and pulling up floorboards and carpets, which you’ll have to do if you fit wall lights and dimmer sockets down the line.
Breathe life into the garden
To give a new garden a kickstart, make sure you allocate a reasonable budget for mature planting and shrubbery. This will give a foundation of coverage early on. A professional landscaper should be able to advise on which plants will work best for your garden’s location and soil, and which varieties will really play to your home’s architectural strengths.
Factor in wiring for lighting, a hot tub, pond or water feature, which could add value to your home. These can be planned during the early stages, while the soft landscaping will need to be done after all the builders and tradespeople have left.
Gently break up the space
If your new space is open-plan, you might want to consider ways to break it up. An architect or designer will be able to create interesting room divisions and even offer flexible space with moving walls and room dividers.
Here, an open-plan space has been zoned by a row of long, narrow boards. The effect is simple yet stunning.
Big up a beautiful ceiling
A new build or renovation is a great opportunity to create a stunning ceiling. Instead of the usual plain option, you could go for a dropped ceiling, where a panel hangs below the original area. Alternatively, a coffered design features recessed areas.
Other choices include stepped ceilings, or ones featuring decorative plasterwork. An ornate ceiling can work just as well in an ultra-modern home as in a traditional one.
Future-proof your home
Both lighting and home automation technology have made huge advances in recent years, and are only going to get bigger and more exciting. You’ll be able to connect every electrical device in your home to a network and remotely control it from a central computer or tablet.
Research the options available and perhaps start with your TV and audio equipment, or look into how the technology can make your home more secure.