It can be a bit daunting knowing what to do with a new build when it comes to colour. You’re handed a house that’s blindingly white or magnolia and it inevitably stays like that, at least for a bit, while you have more pressing things to do. And before long, maybe you fail to see it any more or perhaps it seems like too huge a task because once you start, isn’t that you committed to painting every surface in the entire house? How do you see the potential past those blank walls?
This isn’t our first time buying a new house, and last time it was two years before we started painting. We did put a lot of personality into it in other ways, but this time, we’ve spent a lot of time choosing colour schemes before we even get in – we move at the end of next month and we already know what colour each room will be.
Getting colour inspiration
You’ll know yourself whether you enjoy colour or not. Some people like to stick to neutrals, some people have bright furniture, window dressing and accessories rather than painting, some feel like a new house isn’t finished until every wall’s been painted. We fall somewhere in the middle, I think. There are a few ways of getting inspiration if you can’t get your imagination revved up.
What do you want from the space?
Consider what you want to achieve with the space. Should it be calming? Inspirational? Fun? Practical? Bright colours in kids’ rooms is great… until you find it gets their brains going at bedtime. An all-white scheme may look fabulous, until your dog wanders in from outside. Without wanting to set limits from the outset, this may help refine your requirements.
Touring the showhomes
If you’ve bought a new build, chances are, you’ve visited a showhome, maybe a few. Whether it’s the style of house you went for or not, take photos of rooms and features you like.
We took photos and some video of the showhome of the house we’ve bought, and I contacted the sales office for information on paint colours for a couple of rooms, which they provided straight away. The kitchen in particular, was a lovely shade of green, which we knew we wanted to incorporate straight away… although not in the kitchen, as it turns out.
You might find, like we did, that you don’t want a neutral kitchen or flooring. Because we chose a navy and white kitchen, that does fairly dictate the colour scheme for that whole room. If you decide to keep the big things neutral, you’ll have far more flexibility in changing colours later on.
Having said this, we knew we wanted a similar green to the showhome kitchen in the living room. I had a green paint in mind, was looking at ways of bringing it down a level so it wasn’t overwhelming, by using panelling (I still want this everywhere!). After a lot of browsing, I happened upon this gorgeous green velour carpet on an Australian site which has become the bane of my life as they don’t seem to have anything similar in the UK (Supertuft Escape Velour carpet in Joni). If I can find one anywhere similar, it’s going in.
Like the kitchen, this is a hell of a commitment to a colour scheme, it depends how bold you feel and you’ll know yourself whether you’re prone to changing your mind. If you are crystal clear on your taste, go for it.
Doing interiors research
What colours are in fashion? Not the be all and end all, but if you have a look round some interiors inspiration either in magazines or online, you’ll see repetition of themes, like deep green or classic blue at the moment. Can you see those working for you?
If you see a shade you like, don’t be afraid to ask what colour it is. I’ve done this in showhomes, restaurants, houses, on people’s Instagram posts… Even if you know the person, it’s bound to look different in a different environment so what’s the harm in asking?
Pinterest is your friend. I set up a board for the new house a while ago, as I always do, with separate sections for each room. When you start it, you may find it’s a total mixed bag as you throw all the images you like in, but then you can start refining these by comparing them side-by-side and deleting the ones that no longer hold up.
Try before you buy
How many times have I heard, “this paint dried much darker/brighter than I thought it would”? Please don’t just pick up a tin of paint and slap it on, it rarely looks like the sticker on the tin.
We tried eight to ten shades of blue before we chose this Folk Blue from Valspar for our living room, and I love it so much I intend to include it in the new house. However… I know that I won’t use it if it doesn’t work there. You need to take light into account, testing it in areas of both direct sunlight and shadow. Let the patch dry, and give it another coat for full coverage. This blue might not match the kitchen, I have no idea until we get in, but I will be buying a fresh tester pot when we move.
A note about wallpaper
There is a bit of a rule about wallpapering new builds, which is why I’m harping on about paint. You should really leave your walls 6-12 months to dry out before applying wallpaper, otherwise you could hide cracks or wreck your pretty new wallpaper. I’ve been pinning some lovely art deco patterned wallpaper for my study, but I know it’s a low priority so it won’t be done quickly.
It is only paint
If you’ve painted it and you hate it… just paint it again. It’s just paint. Yes, it would be a huge pain in the arse to do it again, but you either do that or live with it. Choose a room and crack on!