How to inject character into a new-build home

Interior designer Alex Fulton dishes up some expert advice on how to inject character in your home during the building stage


Hi Alex, 

My husband and I are building our first home which is very exciting. But after living in old houses, we are a little scared by the prospect of ‘new’. Old means full of character and we don’t want to lose that with a new house, so we were wondering if you could give us some advice about injecting character into a new-build home?

Mick and Ali, Christchurch

Alex’s advice on how to inject character into a new-build home 

Old does mean character but new is also a chance to stamp your personality and designs on a project. People renovate old homes all the time and replicate or keep features to complement the characteristics of the period of the house.

You can do this for your new home by taking features you love from older houses and adding them into the design mix.

You have a clean slate to build your own character-filled home and the ability to bring in features that will add your own personality.

Think about details that will add texture and pattern, such as architraves and skirting detail, different wall coverings such as tongue-and-groove ply, or floor features such as tiling and wooden floorboards.

Anyone can build a white box – you are in a unique position to do more than that. Details such as bulkheads, beams and built-in furniture are a chance to add dimensions to your new space that will be different and interesting.

Research your heart out and decide together what your final look will be. New doesn’t have to be soulless. It’s an opportunity to create something special that truly reflects how you want to live and what that space will look and feel like.

Words by Alex Fulton. Photography by: Maree Homer/

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