Photo credit: All photos with permission from Kat via her Instagram. Find her at @projecthomedesign
Whether you love them or hate them, there are so many benefits to living in a new build home. Not only are they squeaky clean owing to the fact that no-one's lived in them before you, but they're also generally well-insulated, covered with a builder's guarantee of sorts, and available to buy with various government Help to Buy schemes.
But, one problem that generally plagues new build homes is that they tend to be a bit, well... boring. Magnolia walls, cream carpets and the odd twinkly photo frame seems to be de rigueur, making a new build home appear to be soulless and lacking in personality.
But it's that very fact that makes Kat's home so interesting. Kat describes herself as a "maximalist, a lover of colour, a serial faffer, and someone who's on a mission to put character into her new build home".
And her home? Well, it's full of character, that's for sure. Kat was kind enough to talk about her new build home with me explaining her vision and showing me around every colourful nook and cranny of it...
Hi, Kat! You say you're on a mission to put character into your new build home. What do you mean by that?
Hi! I wanted to buy a new build because the layouts always work really well for modern living and they offer great flexibility. However, with buying a new build what you gain in layout you lose in character and charm. I think it's really tempting with new builds to play safe, and because you are influenced by the “show home”, it can be difficult to see how you can add old fashioned charm to the property.
I feel really passionately that the space you live in should reflect you; I don’t have a particular style or taste, but I stick to the rule of only buying things that I love; whether they’re in trend or not.
I find that by sticking to that rule things with intrinsically work together in terms of your aesthetic. My only second rule when pulling together styling for the house is that the only person who has to love it are the people that live in it! In the past I have decorated or chosen items based more on other people's taste rather than my own and this never works and I always end up changing it!
I couldn't agree more. It often feels crazy that we spend so much money to live in our homes yet decorate it with the next buyer in mind... it's a bit sad actually! So, how do you think you achieve such a character-filled look? Is it by being so into colour? Pattern? Maximalism?
All of the above! I like things that clash and colours that are a bit “off”. My background is in makeup artistry, so through this I am lucky to have an understanding of colour theory. I think perhaps because my profession is about art you can “wash off” it has made me braver about just seeing what a colour or wallpaper is like because I can always repaint it if it ends up tragic!
We have lived in this house 10 months, and I have already repainted two rooms. Funnily enough that is because I started out using neutral colours because I was so worried about light and space. The creams had to go as making the room look “bigger” or “lighter” is less important to me than having the room feel comfortable, cosy and inspiring.
I love your en suite - where's you wallpaper from?
Thank you! Me too! It’s from Mini Moderns; I LOVE all their stuff and could decorate the house exclusively with their bold patterns! The wallpaper in the bathroom is actually a townscape built into a paisley pattern so it has tree lined streets and bicycles on it; super cute! It reminded me of the holidays we used to go in Holland when I was a child, so therefore orange was the natural colour choice! Just in typing this I’m inspired to get a pair of clogs to go on the wall…
I like that your home is filled with personal references to your life in that way. That's what makes it feel like home most of all, I think. So, what's your favourite room in your house and why?
Blimey! That’s a toughie! I do love the lounge as it is probably the room the changes the most as I add new bits and bobs to it. It’s also where we spend the most time. I also love our bedroom. Without meaning to sound too 'first world problems' I didn’t like how big the bedroom was when we moved in; it didn’t feel cosy or comfy so I painted the ceiling to try and make it feel smaller and more snug and I LOVE it! (it's dark all day in there now so perfect for 4pm napping!!).
Great idea! Likewise - my boyfriend and I painted our bedroom dark this year and it's remarkable how cosy and cocoon-like it feels... perfect for indulgent afternoon naps. How do you find it decorating with your other half? Are your decisions joint, or are they happy for you do what you want for the most part?
HA!!! He thinks they are joint decisions!!! Luckily we both like quite bold looks (I’d be in trouble if he was a minimalist!) and both don’t like the idea of being predictable in our choices, so I guess that makes it easier. I will research a lot of home project ideas and then whittle them down to show him so he can “veto” anything he dislikes. He refers to me as the “Creative Director” :).
We rarely disagree though, I think after a lot time together (9 years) your tastes merge and you become influenced by what the other person likes too as you take joy in seeing them also love the space you inhabit. I wouldn’t like to put anything in the house he didn’t like because it is important to both of us that this is our house, not mine.
Finally, having had a good look through your home, it appears you have a knack for choosing beautiful wallpaper... where do you shop? And are you good at visualising how a room will come together or do you have any tricks?
I get my wallpaper from wallpaperdirect.com and I'm forever ordering samples so that I have a catalogue of anything new or something that inspires me. I like to use the samples to upcycle furniture, so they always get used.
I am totally rubbish at visualising how a room will come together, because to me it's never done. I like to move things around, try prints in different rooms, swap out rugs; all sorts so that the house is always a bit different. Because of my theory that “if I like it, it will somehow work” I tend to find items can be interchangeable between different rooms. I think that a room is never “done” because you're never “done” living in a space; it should be constantly changing and edited to suit your mood and direction.
Kat - thank you for your generous and thoughtful responses to all my questions, and for showing us all around your beautiful home! It is not your standard new build home, that's for sure.
What about you guys? What do you think of Kat's home, and do you feel like you're injecting enough personality into your home? Are you living in a new build home?