New build estates are springing up everywhere all over Cornwall. These new houses can offer young families and couples affordable homes that are safe, well-insulated, and adhere to modern eco and green-initiative standards. Lots of these new developments look great too, and if you’re the owner of one, we really hope you’re enjoying your new home.
However, a lot of new-build owners might find that the interiors of these properties could do with a few more homely touches. Because these builds are new, it’s only natural that they haven’t had the time to develop the character and charm that comes with years out in the open, wild Cornish climate. As houses age- and as different owners make their mark- homes take on a unique personality. So if you’re sitting, reading this in a white, rectangle lounge in a new build, and you really want to make your house a home, then these tips will help you to truly create a space that represents who you are.
New builds can sometimes feel a little clinical. The interior textures are often smooth, angular and artificial. This might be exactly to your taste! In which case, ideal! However, you can add some warmth and a sense of ‘story’ to your home by adding some interesting textures. Natural textures like stone, granite, slate and wood can be used in furniture and decor, but also in flooring, walls, windows, light fittings, shelving, doorframes and staircases… the list goes on! How about replacing shiny ceramic bathroom wall tiles with beautiful, local slates? Timber from a felled tree (perhaps from the local area) can make a gorgeous mantlepiece above the fire. Even simple touches, like using smooth pebbles as door handles, can make a big difference. Or using a long, strong piece of driftwood as a stair rail? (Please read our advice on following building regulations at the bottom of this article.) Just make sure that if you ever use timber, you get the landowners’ permission, and remember that a lot of natural objects (such as rocks and plants) should not be removed from where you found them. Places like garden centres and DIY shops will often stock just what you need! Check this list to find out what you can take from beaches https://discovertheoutdoors.co.uk/beachcombing-uk-law/
And it’s not just natural textures that can give your new build a custom home feel. Exposed brick, concrete and metal can be used to give your house an industrial, chic, modern look. And why not combine natural and man-made textures for a soft, cool, Scandi- vibe.
Whilst some custom-made furniture and fittings (such as wardrobes, kitchens and bathrooms) should be installed by professionals, there are some custom structures that you can definitely manage at home! Shelves- for example- are a great way to begin, and you can use meaningful objects to create shelves that are reflective of your personality. This is also a great opportunity to use recycled materials that were perhaps once a part of your life. For example, can old bike parts become shelving brackets? Or an old cupboard door become a tabletop? Consider as well sending materials away to be remoulded (sending scrap metal away to be made into a sink or bathtub, for example).
So many of us dream of huge houses, with acres of rooms to spread out in. And whilst a lot of interior designers do advise their clients to always ‘make the space feel bigger’, there is a lot to be said for rooms that feel comfortable and cosy. Some of the affordable new builds might have one master bedroom, and then a smaller box room or guest room. Why not turn that space into a little reading nook or study room. Use cushy soft furnishings, natural textures, warm, dark, earthy paint colours and orange-tint lighting to make a room feel safe, relaxed and wholesome.
Additionally, finding ways to lower the ceiling- for example- can make a rather imposing bedroom feel safe and warm. And this doesn’t necessarily have to be a big structural change; you can ‘lower the ceiling’ and trick the eye by using fabric hangings and low-down lights that make high ceilings seem closer.
Cornwall has many materials that are indigenous and idiosyncratic to the county. For example, Delabole (or rag/ irregular) slate, white St Austell clay and granite are all building materials that immediately locate a house in its geographical context. Using local materials to customise your home is also better for the planet (fewer air miles) and supports local industry and workers.
Windows and what can see out of them affect a house’s character more than perhaps we realise! The view from your house will be entirely unique, so consider how you want to frame this, and also what kind of relationship you want to establish between the outside and the inside. What kind of shapes, colours, lines, textures, natural elements or light can be seen from your window, and how might you echo the outside inside your home. If you have a garden, or a view of the countryside from your window (as many homes in Cornwall do), then plants can be used around the house to bring the green space inside.
Although this is a bigger step to take, extending and expanding your home immediately makes your mark on the property. These kinds of structural customisations, such as adding an extra floor or mezzanine to a bungalow, converting a loft, or landscaping your outdoor space, are sometimes costly, but also massively boost the value of your home, and can give you the extra room you need without having to move!
We’ve tried to think of some tips that are budget-friendly and (hopefully) DIY-able. However, we know that sometimes you just don’t have the time or the tools to mount home-improvement projects. Building regulations often affect what homeowners can do to their homes so that these properties are still safe for future generations. At Hysmark, we’ve got many years of expertise and experience transforming a diverse range of properties, and always meet up-to-date building regs., giving you a guarantee on completion If you have an idea for a project for your home, do get in touch. And you never know… you might be surprised about what’s possible!