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Best Advice for Decorating Your New Build or Period Property

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Are you decorating a new build or period property? With the added benefits of higher energy efficiency and a sleek, modern look, new builds are an attractive option for property investors. However, when compared with the stunning character of traditional period homes,  new builds are more of a ‘blank canvas’, waiting for the inscription of your own personal style. Our property management team at Flex Living refurbish properties every day, both old and new. So, in this article, we’ll tell you our favourite new build decorating ideas to bring your new property to life.

Difference Between New Build and Period Properties

The textbook definition of a new build home is something that was built in the last two years. However, most new built properties built from the 2000s onwards share similar characteristics in their layout and interior features – for example, modern fittings with seamless walls, evenly angled rooms and less protruding features. Kitchens and bathrooms of new builds also tend to have a ‘glossier’ finish. From the 1960s onwards, there are many properties that are technically not considered ‘new builds’ but, stylistically, can be grouped in with more recent developments due to their absence of ‘period’ features like old fireplaces and ceiling cornices or coving.


In contrast, a period property is one that was built during a specific epoch and is typified by a distinct architectural style. For example, in the UK, period properties would include those from the Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian Eras. Whilst they are often stunningly charismatic with spacious rooms and scope to add value, these properties tend to have more abstract stylistic properties such as oddly shaped rooms (i.e., without 90 degree angled corners and walls), so there are more considerations required when furnishing with things like built-in wardrobes. Period properties often house elaborate textiles and patterns, using environmentally friendly materials like timber and stone. 

How to Decorate a New Build

One of the main advantages with furnishing a new build is the personalisation options it offers – you get more say in your new home’s interior design because the space is more like a ‘blank canvas’. Instead of inheriting someone else’s taste (as with period properties), you get to create your own from scratch.


Decorating a new build can seem like a mammoth task. That’s why our property management experts at Flex Living have compiled some advice to help inspire your new build interior design journey.

How to Add Character to A New Build Home (UK)

Period properties are much more likely to contain elements that effortlessly add character to the space. However, you may have to work a little harder to instil character into the blank canvas of new build homes. Here are our top new build decorating ideas to add character to a new build:

1. Pick your personal style:

Whether it’s a minimalist style with neutral colours or a grey-toned monochrome theme, choose your desired theme to carry out across all rooms in the property. Emerging interior design styles in 2023 include the following:

a. Japandi: a distinctive blend of Japanese and Scandinavian design that balances minimalism with textual diversity to create a soothing, modern atmosphere.

Japandi living room interior design

b. Australian brightness: a more relaxed and casual approach to interior design incorporating wide open spaces, uncomplicated furnishings and a bright, mellow style.

c. Eco-friendly and sustainable living: using environmentally friendly supplies like limewash, low VOC paints, recyclable materials, and sustainable fabrics. Additionally, sourcing second-hand furniture and incorporating greenery.

Eco-friendly and sustainable living living room interior design

d. Monochrome: a balanced mixture of matte blacks, soft greys and whites to create a timeless elegance (particularly in bathrooms and kitchens).

monochrome interior design of a kitchen

2. Pick your colours:

Below is a table to help you decide on a colour scheme based on the ‘mood’ or ‘theme you’re going for.

color schemes according to mood

Can you paint a new build? Yes, of course! However, if your property has only recently been build, you should wait 6-12 months before applying any paint to allow new building materials in the walls, like timber and fresh plaster, to dry out slowly. With newly built homes, it is usually best to use a high-quality, breathable paint (such as matt emulsion) that is unlikely to hinder the drying process.

3. Furnishing Selection

a. Statement lighting: oversized statement lighting that is bold and unique is a great way to add character to a new build. For example, a branching, organically shaped chandelier hanging from the room’s centre draws attention to the middle of the room.

statement lighting design in the kitchen

b. Shelving: use shelves to bring life and texture to walls whilst doubling as storage space.

c. Ironmongery: change those modern, inexpensive door handles of your new build to more traditional styles with a brass finish to add some vintage magnetism.

d. Textured features: use a blend of textiles throughout the room, from chunky knit blankets and threaded rugs to wicker baskets and wooden chairs.

chunky knit blankets on a sofa and threaded rugs below a wooden chair

4. Play around with the layout

You can use apps to help visualise how furniture will look in a room, including IKEA Place, Target app and Wayfair app. If you’re stuck on new build living room ideas, for example, you can see what different furniture looks like in your living room space before actually buying the furniture.

5. Add texture

Textures can add a flowing essence to the room and bring it to life when used sparingly. From adding wooden panelling or tiles on wall surfaces to incorporating textured fabrics into soft furnishings like pillows, it’s easy to add a little texture!


Our favourite way to add texture is through wall panelling. Wall panels provide a creative element to bring otherwise plain walls to life. Different types of wall panelling include the following:

  • Solid: panels of wood fixed to the wall in one piece (the rustic look makes it a great option for kitchens)
  • Veneer: a thin wood layer attached to a plywood core provide a sleek, modern look (also good for insulation and soundproofing)
veneer or a thin wood layer attached to a plywood core
  • Engineered: several layers of MDF or HDF wood give a modernised industrial look
double bed with a massive clock above and black lamps on the sides
  • Panel: panels of MDF or HDF wood with plywood backing
light blue walls near a unique table with miniature objects
  • Oversized mounted headboards: large slates of wood, metal, upholstery, natural fibres, or leather fixed onto the wall behind the bed to add a textured elegance.
Oversized mounted headboards with lamps and side table

How to Decorate a Period Property

  • If you want to revamp and redecorate your period property, consider what style you want to achieve. Do you want a modern, rustic or vintage look?

For a modern look, try:

  • Paint the walls with a light, neutral colour
  • Choose a bright colour scheme for furnishings
  • Replace older, antique furniture with modern, minimalist furniture
  • Add large mirrors to create the illusion of space and light
  • Create a statement feature wall
  • Use a statement rug to add a contemporary touch to the floorboards
  • Dress windows with wooden shutters for a clean look
  • Use bold lighting fixtures
modern living room design with large windows and curtains

For a rustic look, try:

  • Add panelling or coving to walls for texture or a rustic look
  • Textured, organic textiles and furnishings (e.g., wicker baskets and hemp rugs)
  • Use warm, earthy colours 
  • Emphasise the natural – keep wooden floorboards exposed
  • Handmade, simple furniture made from natural materials like wood and stone.

For a vintage look, try:

  • Consider different styles such as art deco, gothic and baroque
  • Install Victorian style coving or a centred ceiling cornice
  • Use vintage floral patterns on cushions or furniture
  • Embrace darker colour palettes
  • Expose hidden features that could add character (for example, accentuate the wooden floorboards or fireplaces). 
  • A point to consider for all styles: When renovating a period property for a contemporary look, try and preserve the charismatic features. For example, don’t just get rid of that cast-iron fireplace or those expansive windows and doors. Instead, try and work with them. In some cases, these older, periodic components can be the perfect canvas for a statement piece.

What Works in Both New Builds and Periodic Properties?

When renovating a property, certain style tips may work for both new builds and periodic properties. These include:


  • Using statement pieces and bold lighting fixtures
  • Opting for neutral colour schemes (e.g., light greys, creams, sage green, beiges)
  • Adding texture via panelling and furnishing selection
  • Use materials like brass, iron, natural stone, pine and oak to add character and texture

Flex Living’s Free Property Refurbishment Service

Landlords who rent out their property through Flex Living’s property management services are entitled to a free redecoration and refurbishment of their property (worth up to £5,000) into a bespoke, aesthetic living space. Get in touch with one of our team members today, and get a valuation to get started.


Read next:

  • Property Refurbishment (How to Decorate Your Property and Where to Find Furnishings)
  • Guaranteed Rent (How Do I Let Out My Property for Guaranteed Rent?)
  • Managing Your Rental Property (Is it Worth Self-Managing a Rental Property?)
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