A splash of colour
With her bright and beautiful home attracting over 20,000 followers on Instagram, it’s clear Mel Hamblett (aka @awholenewbuild) has a flair for decorating with colour. We spoke to Persimmon homeowner Mel about the inspiration behind her colourful home, the techniques she picked up along the way, and why she went for a Persimmon new build.
Hi Mel! A new build home provides the perfect blank canvas and you’ve transformed yours into a real work of art. What inspires you in terms of your interior design?
I think it’s really easy to be inspired these days, with so many creative platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok, literally in the palm of our hands. But something you can’t always gauge from pictures is how spaces *feel*.
That’s why I find myself most inspired when I visit somewhere in person. It could be a department store, a hotel or even a funky cafe; I’m forever snapping photos of decor or furniture and saving it to a Pinterest board so I don’t forget!
Our living room was heavily inspired by a stay in a Cotswold holiday let back in 2018, which was home to a gorgeous blue velvet sofa. The space felt incredibly calm, but combined natural textures with mid-century furniture and bright pops of teal - something I then tried to replicate in our home. I remember sitting on the blue sofa with my husband and saying “why doesn’t home feel like this?” That was when I knew our decor style needed a rethink, and started searching for colourful inspiration to bring into our new build.
It’s not just colour you’re a pro at – your house is also full of lots of gorgeous textures. What’s your thought process behind using textures?
I sometimes describe myself as a ‘medium maximalist’. Maximalist decor is all about mashing together different styles and patterns to create luxurious, boutique interiors, with lots of trinkets and accessories to entertain the eye.
While some of my rooms - such as my recently updated spare bedroom with its bold snake wallpaper and neon sign - definitely fit this description, I do try to keep spaces as clutter free as possible, ensuring everything has a home. By contrast, the spaces where I relax (like our master bedroom and living room) contain fewer patterns and more muted colours.
In these calmer spaces, I try to mix texture more than pattern - layering up throws and cushions, and introducing natural textures through wooden furniture or laminate flooring.
I am also a huge fan of gallery walls. I think art prints have the ability to transform a space on a budget, and without the need for any DIY skills. Using vintage frames can add a pop of texture, while framing wallpaper samples is a cheap way to introduce pattern to plain walls. Plus they’re easy to update to give your room a refresh or if your style changes.
As people become more conscious of being sustainable in terms of their homes, what would be your advice for those looking to upcycle items for their interior styling?
Upcycling was how my love for DIY began, and it’s a great way to update your home on a tight budget. My first project was transforming two black Ikea MALM drawer units (the ones that everyone owns at some point in their lives!) into a more contemporary grey and copper theme. It only took one afternoon and a tin of paint and then I was hooked!
My tips are to always wash down your furniture with sugar soap first, give it a light sand (so the surface has a ‘key’ - something to stick to). If you’re upcycling flatpack furniture, it’s best to use a primer to really help the paint stick, although as upcycling has grown in popularity, many furniture paints now contain a built-in primer. If the item is going to be used often - like a table - I would advise to finish with a varnish for protection from chips.
Most recently, I upcycled our original Persimmon kitchen by painting the cabinet doors from cream to champagne pink and petrol blue. We added tiles and new flooring but the cupboards and layout are still the same, yet it looks like a different room. Paint really is magic!
I have also used vinyl to update a bedside table in our spare bedroom, a bathroom cabinet and even along the side of our staircase. It’s so diverse and comes in so many patterns and colours, there’s something for everyone.
When designing a room, what is the most important factor for you?
For me, the feel of the space is the most important thing. It has to make you feel the way you want it to - whether that’s happy, calm, serene…If you don’t feel that way when you’re in there - something isn’t quite right.
I have made many mistakes as I’ve started to find my home style. One of the most memorable mistakes was when I painted our bathroom a gorgeous sunny yellow colour, because I’d seen someone use the same colour in their living room and thought it looked wonderful.
But, when it was in my much smaller bathroom, it felt claustrophobic and not at all relaxing - the opposite of what you want when you’re in the tub! So, while I still love the colour and it got many compliments from followers online, in reality it didn’t feel right for me. So it’s important to listen to your gut, and remember if you make a mistake, it’s only paint!
Very true! Now that you’ve really found what works, what is your favourite room in the house and why?
My favourite room is probably our kitchen - a makeover we only completed just before Christmas, so I’m still in the honeymoon phase with it! Previously the space had dark grey walls and a brickwork effect wallpaper, which sucked all the light from the room - resulting in us spending very little time there.
It’s now a bright blend of champagne pink and petrol blue, featuring pink hexagon tiles and a bold tropical wallpaper to zone the dining space. We have a pink neon sign which reads ‘But first, coffee’ as a nod to my morning ritual, and have a floor-to-ceiling cupboard, which was built to hide our boiler and bin. This makes the space look sleek and clutter free.
While there was nothing wrong with the bones of our kitchen, the beige cabinets needed an injection of colour, so I painted them one-by-one over a few evenings, using kitchen cabinet paint. We hired an electrician to install spotlights and purchased a new herringbone style vinyl floor to finish the look.
I think it’s my favourite space because we now use it much more for family mealtimes, or for chatting with a glass of wine whilst cooking. Before, we didn’t enjoy being in this space, but now I can’t wait to sit down for dinner.
What led you to buying a Persimmon new-build?
We looked at a number of showhomes from various developers and found many master bedrooms were too small to fit both a wardrobe and a bed. So, knowing we hoped to start a family, we were reluctant to give up a valuable bedroom to store clothes.
Eventually when we walked into the Persimmon Leicester showhome, I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe the amount of space on offer across three floors. The master bedroom, which takes up the whole of the top floor along with an ensuite, just felt like extreme luxury - it was like walking into a hotel suite.
For a long time, we referred to the house as the ‘dreamhouse’. As a young couple in a rental home, we never thought we’d be able to afford this property. But, thanks to a combination of good timing, the Government’s Help-to-Buy scheme and a range of incentives on our development, the dreamhouse became a reality.
We’ve been here seven years now, and I still pinch myself when I walk upstairs to our master bedroom.
And finally, what’s the best thing about your new-build home?
As first time buyers, being responsible for all aspects of a home was a nerve-wracking prospect, but we found moving into our new build was a relatively stress free experience.
We had no major problems, but I knew that if anything were to go wrong it would be covered by our warranty - so there would be no nasty financial surprises. That was a huge weight off our minds, and allowed us to concentrate on the exciting parts of buying a home.
You can read about Mel's trend predictions for 2022 and thoughts on the new colour of the year in her previous article here.
And be sure to follow @awholenewbuild to see more of her beautiful home.
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