How to create character in your new-build home
If you’ve ever watched any UK property shows, you’ll know what’s on the top of most house hunters’ wish lists; character!
When we talk about character in a home, we’re referring to the features that are interesting and provide a break the monotony of stark clinical surfaces.
Of course, very modern homes have their own ‘character’, but in this context it means features that are often associated with more traditional cottages and homes.
A home full of character isn’t for everyone, but if it’s to your taste, you’ll be eager to know how to create that personality and warmth in a brand-new house (and if you’re building custom, you have every opportunity to add character to your heart’s desire!).
We teamed up with Casey from Casey Dorling Design to put together some suggestions to get you thinking.
Your big opportunity to add character to the outside of your home is with texture. Stonework never fails to deliver on a luxe feel, and recycled bricks give ‘standard’ bricks a huge personality boost without blowing the budget.
Cladding is almost compulsory for a character-full house with period charm, especially in coastal settings. We recommend Scyon products for reliability, fire safety, longevity and for an unbeatable aesthetic.
Timber used on the exterior of a home is a sure-fire way to add warmth and interest. Timbers can age nicely if left to their own devices, but if you’d prefer your timber to retain it’s gorgeous ‘just installed’ look for years to come (and you don’t fancy climbing up to stain it regularly), consider the option we’ve used at our own Design Studio, Knotwood, it’s a (very!) realistic timber-look aluminium product and is flexible for lots of applications including fencing.
When it comes to external colours, try to avoid clinical whites and colours that don’t create mood or atmosphere (to your taste), perhaps look to the surroundings of the house for inspiration on more interesting colour options.
Ceilings and Walls
If you’d like to deliver a dose of character in a subtle way, just look up to your ceilings for inspiration. Panelling on the ceiling might make you think of a Swiss chalet, but contemporary panelling in your choice of texture and colour can be a wonderful way to add interest to what can otherwise be a little too smooth and seek for your taste.
Another option for panelling is on interior walls. A panelled wall in a rich, deep colour completely transforms a room, and it’s all about adding visual interest. Look around for opportunities!
You can even take panelling into the bathroom, or opt for a stand-out feature tiled wall.
Fireplaces add tonnes of character and provide a room with a clear focal feature. They’re also a lovely gathering point for the family. If wood-burning fireplaces are a little too smoky for you (and you’re not really the axe-wielding type), consider a modern gas-burning fireplace. You’ll be surprised at the lovely natural elements now available in gas fireplaces, and of course, zero smell, zero clean up and zero chopping.
If an internal fireplace isn’t your vibe, consider an outdoor fire pit or even full fireplace for a cracking social space to entertain.
Before you get your heart set on a wood-burning fireplace, different councils and suburbs have different rules for fireplaces, so check in with your local authorities.
Shaker-profile kitchen cabinet doors are full of character and despite popular opinion, they certainly aren’t restricted to a Hamptons-style home. Installed without door hardware and in a dark colour, they become more contemporary but still retain bucket loads of character. This gorgeous kitchen is our Gipps home is by Leisure Coast Kitchens.
Real timber, exposed polished concrete and loop pile carpets are all full of texture, but be careful not to have too many different floor coverings throughout your home. One wet area flooring and one main flooring is ideal, plus carpet in the bedrooms if you like.
Whether it’s pendants over the kitchen island or wall lighting in a living area, lighting can be very effective in creating a mood in your house, plus can often be switched out on a whim when you feel like a change.
Even in a modern room, the rugs, throws and cushions can add a great deal of character, and allow you to incorporate texture, pattern and colour in a non-permanent way. Consider working with an interior decorator or stylist early on in your house design journey, to create a mood board with paint samples and fabric swatches so you can keep on track.
Although window furnishings can take your home to a whole new level of style and character, unfortunately, they’re often the very last thing installed in a build and therefore not give much thought until the budget is very low (or empty!).
This is a missed opportunity, as the right plantation shutters, soft flowing curtains, sheers or textured blinds can make a huge difference to the feel of a room.
Although you may feel that there is no part of your knock-down worth keeping, you might be surprised if you have another look around with fresh eyes! In our Gipps Street, Wollongong home, the owners took the door handles of the dilapidated apartments that were previously on the block, polished them up and they become stunning feature handles on their master bedroom double doors.
In the same home, the owners bought a tri-fold antique mirror from a local charity shop and installed it in their otherwise very modern bathroom. The contrast of the old and the new is stunning.
If you’re interested in talking to us about building your own custom home that fits like a glove (with bucketloads of character thrown in!), we’d love to hear from you.