Experts warn against this new build decorating mistake that could cost you £1000s

There's a reason why most new builds sport that similar 'minimalist' look in the first year

White painted kitchen with exposed brick feature wall, tall countertop, oven, and kitchen shelving
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Experts warn against this often overlooked, yet immensely costly, mistake you might not know you're making when looking to decorate walls in a new build home.

The concept of moving house is one that'll always bring excitement, even more so if you've managed to score the new build home of your dreams. What's especially exciting about a new build is that it's a blank canvas and an opportunity to put your own stamp on it.

However, what many people don't know is that although new builds are undoubtedly beautiful and modern, they come with some decorating limitations upon arrival that surprisingly, not enough people know about.

Kitchen with grey tiled concrete floor, large marbled kitchen island, floor to ceiling glass doors to the patio and garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/Davide Lovatti)

The new build decorating mistake to avoid

'If you've just moved into a new-build home, your walls are most likely to be decorated with emulsion paint in a neutral or white tone. Many new homeowners leap at the chance to decorate over these default tones immediately but in reality, builders highly recommend leaving 12 months between moving in and decorating the walls,' explains Mike Norton, trade and projects director at Magnet Trade.

Gold and white kitchen countertop, armchair, hanging wall art

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mary Wadsworth)

'This is because new building materials, such as wood frames, concrete and plaster, need time to dry out slowly and 'settle'. These new materials can also shrink or expand as they adjust to the space and temperature, hence why you may notice gaps in joinery and white deposits on the wall.'

'Particularly in the UK, where the climate is colder and prone to fluctuation, this drying process can take longer.'

Modern white living room with concrete floors and feature wall, grey sofa and wood burner

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

Mike Norton at Magnet Trade adds, 'If you don't wait it out, the cracks and damage are likely to be a lot worse and builders may not repair any damage as you have gone against their advice.'

'Instead, you'll be left with the added time, expense and waste of having to strip down and re-do the wallpaper and paint jobs yourself or from a tradesperson. Or, you may even have to re-plaster.' And mind you, this could cost you up to £1000s, unless you're willing to get your hands dirty and do the DIY projects yourself.

White painted living room with large windows, blinds, L shaped cream sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

We're certain many of us may have this stigma that new-builds tend to always lean more 'minimalist' in the spectrum of home decor trends, and almost borderline 'bland' with the paint trends and living room colour schemes they seemingly choose to follow, but in reality, the walls are probably white and bare because they can't decorate them.

White and grey kitchen countertops and storage units with appliances, door leading to another room

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

How to add your personal touch to a new-build home during the waiting process

'The great thing about a new build is that you do have a blank canvas, so once you can begin painting you have so many options,' says Sarah Lloyd, interiors and paint specialist at Valspar Paint.

However, in the meantime, here are some workarounds so you can still inject your personality into a new-build home and add a splash of colour if you're not crazy about sticking with the Vanilla Girl aesthetic for up to a year.

Wooden sideboard with white lamp, glass vases and art on wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

1. Artwork

While you might not be able to take out a paintbrush and revel in your wallpaper ideas just yet, it doesn't mean your walls have to stay bare. Just opt for renter-friendly decorating methods.

'Alternatively, adding pieces of statement artwork to the walls can help to bring a room to life, and can always be hung using command strips to minimise any damage to the fresh plaster,' advises Sarah Lloyd at Valspar Paint.

White painted room, green ceiling, hanging artwork, boucle chair, houseplant

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

2. Soft furnishings

'You can include colour and personality with soft furnishings. Slowly implement your colour schemes in each room with curtains, cushions, throws, rugs, or other upholstery,' suggests Sarah Lloyd at Valspar Paint.

Green sofa with cushions in dark wood living room and kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark C. O'Flaherty)

3. Lighting

'Lighting is also a great way to add personality to the room. ​​It might sound obvious but taking the time to actually look at your empty rooms and consider where your furniture will go is a good place to begin,' says Sarah Lloyd at Valspar Paint. Interior designer Kelly Hoppen even touched on this lack of consideration of your room's design and furniture scale as a room-wrecking mistake.

'Take into consideration the natural lighting of the room and how you can implement other lights to really brighten up the space – this will not only add personality but also makes smaller rooms feel bigger and more welcoming too.'

White painted kitchen with exposed brick feature wall, tall countertop, oven, and kitchen shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

4. If you really can't wait, use breathable paint

This is more so a last resort, but Mike Norton at Magnet Trade says, 'If you really can't wait to decorate the walls in a new build, choose a breathable paint that’s water-based instead of a plastic-based one so that the drying process isn't as severely affected.'

Dark wood dining table and chairs with decorative console table and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mary Wadsworth)

So, if you've ever made a throwaway comment about a new build home looking bland, there's a chance you may owe them an apology seeing as it's more than likely out of their control.

Would you be able to move into a new build home knowing you couldn't decorate for up to a year?

Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments.