How to make your new-build feel like home

From organisation to budget to design, interior designer Alex Fulton dishes up some expert advice on how to make your new-build feel like home


Hi Alex,

We moved into our ‘off-the-plan’ spec home about three months ago. To put it plainly, we are stuck! We have all our old furniture, we are too scared to put anything on the walls and all the rooms feel unfinished. We seem to have hit an interior-design roadblock. Help please!

The Thom family, Auckland

Alex’s simple tips on how to make a new-build feel like home 

Organise: Moving homes is a super way to throw out the stuff you don’t use or you no longer need or like. Take this time to sort the good from the bad and note down what you are left with for each space. For example, in the lounge you keep the sofa, side table, favourite keepsakes, art, bookshelf and books, but the two chairs can go as they were secondhand 18 years ago, plus various vases and ornaments that have no meaning. This leaves you with a ‘to buy’ list that will be your guide.

Budget: The first question I ask a client is “What’s your budget?” as this will let us know where we are spending money and where we have to save, and will help prioritise purchases. List items in order of priority and work your way through this over time. It will keep you on track and organised!

Design: Once a budget is in place, make a design plan. This is as simple as writing down the final look. Use images from magazines to make this look come to life and start to get the feeling of each space and the style direction you want. Get buy-in from the family so each space works to truly reflect who is living here. For each room, work out a special plan that ‘feels right’. Think about things like walkways, flow and function. Making sure the space works will give you the foundation you need to start on the decoration and making the room cohesive.

Remember this is an organic process that will ebb and flow as you move through life so just start at the very start and make it a priority to design a house that feels like your home.

Words by Alex Fulton. Photography by: Maree Homer/

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