How to Create Character in a New Build | Design Insights with CAISLEY


In the world of interior design, creating character in a new build can pose a real challenge for many HM clients embarking on this unique experience. We recently worked on a project in Surrey where the clients had purchased a recently built house in an incredible location and while the bones of the house in terms of architecture and room size was spot on, the interior design was shiny, hard, and very contemporary. The clients commissioned CAISLEY to create a classical English interior design scheme for the house with the explicit purpose of making it feel like a home.

So, how do you infuse warmth, personality, and a sense of history into a space that lacks the patina of age? Lauren Caisley, founder and creative director of CAISLEY, shares her expert tips for transforming a new build into a home with soul.

1. Lighting: “One of the most important elements in any interior scheme is lighting,” says Lauren. “In a new build, where natural light may be abundant, it’s essential to complement this with carefully layered artificial lighting.” Lauren recommends incorporating multiple layers of lighting, including task lighting for specific activities, mid-level lighting for everyday use, and ambient lighting to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. “By mirroring the natural progression of sunlight throughout the day, you can enhance the feeling of spaciousness and connection to the outdoors,” she adds.

2. Look and Feel: When it comes to creating character in a new build, texture is key. “We’re not trying to imitate an old house,” explains Lauren. “Instead, we focus on using historical techniques and natural materials to add depth and interest.” Think beautiful architraves, textured wooden floors, and soft, muted finishes that evoke a sense of warmth and homeliness. “Texture is what gives a space its soul,” says Lauren. “We embrace natural materials like wood, stone, linen, wool, and marble to create a tactile and inviting environment.”

3. Balance: It’s always important to balance the space you have – this Surrey project was a recent new build and it didn’t make any sense to change the windows and doors for example. And for Lauren, the contemporary bi-folding doors at the Surrey Project are not just a functional element but an opportunity to balance the overall scheme so she cleverly incorporated layered linen curtains to soften the overall impact of the doors.

“Our design ethos blends classical English interiors with a modern sensibility,” she says. “I loved that the huge glass doors allow so much light to filter through into the kitchen and dining space – it’s an all seasons room to enjoy throughout the year – a celebration of the natural world inside and out.”

Lauren Caisley

4. Mixing Metals: When it comes to appliances, Lauren recommends embracing the trend of mixing metals. “We loved incorporating Gaggenau appliances with their sleek, modern design and high-quality craftsmanship and seeing that next to the Humphrey Munson cabinetry finished with brass hardware,” she says. “Mixing metals adds visual interest and depth to the kitchen, creating a sophisticated and dynamic look.”

5. Cabinetry Style: In keeping with CAISLEY’s aesthetic; traditional-style cabinetry is a cornerstone of their designs. “We often opt for in-frame cabinetry, which adds a sense of craftsmanship and authenticity to the space,” explains Lauren. “The juxtaposition of classic cabinetry with modern convenience creates a timeless and elegant look and with Humphrey Munson you’re guaranteed not just exceptional design but the quality of the manufacturing and the service ensures clients feel completely at ease throughout the process’.

6. Nostalgia: “Adding touches of nostalgia to a new build can instantly infuse it with character,” says Lauren. “Think old paintings, eclectic tablescapes, and mismatched china that tell a story and evoke a sense of nostalgia and charm.” This is the case for all rooms so you achieve a lovely thread of continuity through the whole house.

In conclusion, transforming a new build into a home with character requires attention to detail, a thoughtful approach to materials and finishes, and a touch of nostalgia. To see more of CAISLEY’s inspiring projects and design philosophy, visit their Instagram here.

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