Real home: this new build's colourful makeover adds character

Sara Colclough brought unique touches to a new home with dark walls, classic panelling and colourful artwork

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover
Cupboards painted in Basalt and feature wall painted in Hicks’ Blue, both Little Greene. Angel wings, Rockett St George
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Living in a four-bedroom terraced house in one of central Durham’s student neighbourhoods suited Sara Colclough and David Brass just fine, until their two sons came along. ‘The house was only 10 years old but it was designed to look Georgian with high ceilings and sash windows,’ says Sara. ‘However, it was on a main road and didn’t have a garden.’

After they relocated to a new-build house that met all their needs, they didn't want a home that was filled with the developer's choice of décor rather than their own. So Sara transformed it with a striking colour palette and personal style touches that have made it feel uniquely theirs. Keep reading to find out more.

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Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

The new-build home had space inside and out

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

When Sara heard of the plans for a new development on a former golf course, just a 20-minute walk from the city centre, she thought it could answer their need for space inside and out. ‘As the housing stock in Durham is pretty limited, moving further out to a new build seemed like the only option that ticked all our boxes,’ she says.

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The owners Sara Colclough, a GP and hospice physician, her partner, David Brass, a consultant dermatologist, and their children, Zachary and Luca
The property A new-build six-bedroom detached house in Durham
Project cost £27,000

Over the next year, Sara kept returning as more phases were released for sale off-plan. Although the bigger plot they coveted had been snapped up, in a lucky twist of fate, the sale fell through on the day Sara and David sold their house. The couple rented a flat in the grounds of Durham Cathedral for a year while they waited for it to be built. ‘I was so excited about the house, I’d created a Pinterest board for each room and gathered about 70 paint samples,’ Sara says.

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

The living room wall was meant to be flat, but when Sara visited the site and saw an opening she asked the builders to keep it. ‘I decorated the back with bookcase wallpaper but it still needed something extra, so I added the wooden mantle to make it more of a feature.’ Black bookshelf wallpaper and Madame Blush artwork, both Mineheart (opens in new tab). Allium throw, Lucy Tiffney (opens in new tab). Magazine rack, Rockett St George (opens in new tab). Walls painted in Railings, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Sofa, Barker & Stonehouse (opens in new tab). Rug, Snowdrops Copenhagen (opens in new tab). Shrewsbury parquet flooring, Atkinson & Kirby (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The house was supposed to be ready by June 2017, but they didn’t get the keys until 10 days before Christmas. ‘Luckily the developer allowed us to bring in our own trades to fit the parquet flooring and carpets before completion,’ says Sara. ‘This meant we got them VAT free, and with around 100 square metres of floor space, we saved about £2,000.’

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

‘I didn’t have the courage to go dark on the ceiling, too,’ says Sara. ‘So the metallic border makes it more interesting.’ Stripe painted in gold Tikkurila paint (opens in new tab). Apple Blossom cushion, Vanilla Fly (opens in new tab). Side table, Barker & Stonehouse (opens in new tab). Star light, Rockett St George (opens in new tab). Da Funk poster, Turtle Dust (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Although it’s not advisable to paint a new home straight away to let the building settle, Sara wanted to cram as much as possible into the first week while they still had their rental property. ‘We hired decorators to paint the ivory kitchen cabinets in a deep blue (Basalt by Little Greene (opens in new tab)), as well as painting the living room, master bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and hallway.’

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

Sara created the blue and gold stripes herself. ‘It was a nightmare with lots of measuring and frog tape, but well worth it,’ she says. Balustrade painted in Railings, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Kancona mirror, La Redoute (opens in new tab), is similar. My Vinyl A-Z print, The Baltic Shop (opens in new tab). Walls painted in Timeless (opens in new tab)and Denim Drift (opens in new tab), both Dulux; Hague Blue, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab); and gold furniture paint

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Additional creative touches have helped each room evolve since then, such as chevron panelling in the master bedroom and a geometric mural for the family bathroom. In the living room, Sara’s created a metallic border to mimic a picture rail and has cleverly used bookcase wallpaper instead of a fire. ‘I’ve tried to inject some interest relatively cheaply and easily with paint,’ she says. ‘You can always paint over it again, which I’ve done many times!’

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

The idea to add chevron panelling came from an Instagram account called @mrs_macs_home (opens in new tab). It was made by Sara’s neighbour, a retired fabricator. Panelling painted in Scree, Little Greene (opens in new tab). Allium throw, Lucy Tiffney (opens in new tab). For a bedside cabinet, try John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). Pink velvet curtains, JD Williams (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Most rooms have been decorated more than once and Sara admits there have been a few mistakes. ‘I picked Denim Drift by Dulux for the hall, stairs and landing, but it didn’t work as it looked neither grey nor blue,’ she says. ‘I lived with it for six months then bought a tin of cream paint to wipe it out before painting my own stripe design.’

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

As Sara bought her home off-plan, she couldn’t change the suite but could choose the tiles. ‘I wanted something that would flow with the master bedroom, so I picked simple black and white metro tiles.’ Wall painted in Lamp Black, Little Greene (opens in new tab). The Ohio buffalo skull, Maisons du Monde (opens in new tab), is similar. Bath mat, Society6 (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

As a serial decorator, Sara says her style is ever-changing according to the property she lives in. ‘I can’t pigeon-hole myself but I struggle with all-white rooms so I do love dark interiors and quirky accessories,’ she says. ‘I’m drawn to blues, greys and blacks as a neutral base, then I add colour pops through artwork, cushions and accessories to liven it up.’

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

Having previously been a dumping ground with plain white walls, Sara was keen to create a sumptuous guest bedroom in here. ‘I really wanted to experiment with a black ceiling and it’s completely transformed the room,’ she says. Cara palm leaf ceiling light, Debenhams (opens in new tab). Ceiling painted in Obsidian Green, Little Greene (opens in new tab). Black cushions, Bedeck (opens in new tab). Lime cushions, Marks & Spencer (opens in new tab). Jungle cushions, HK Living (opens in new tab). Bedlinen, Scion (opens in new tab). Boho feather wall juju, Design Vintage (opens in new tab), is similar

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Websites like Trouva, Design Vintage, The Forest & Co and Love Frankie have helped shape Sara’s look, but her favourite destination is The Lillian Daph Store (opens in new tab) in Saltburn. ‘I discovered it when I picked up some artwork from Light Up North (opens in new tab), which shares the space. It’s a beautiful shop and I like supporting local businesses.’

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

Sara used up leftover paint pots for the boys’ bathroom. ‘I wanted something a bit fun and random,’ she says. ‘My youngest loves it because, as he told me, it’s the colours of Batman.’ Floor tiles, Tile Giant (opens in new tab). Walls painted in Lamp Black (opens in new tab), Mister David (opens in new tab) and Inox (opens in new tab), all Little Greene. Bamboo baskets, The Forest & Co (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The next task is turning the additional top floor bedroom from a dumping ground into a dressing room. ‘Because of the ceiling angles, it’ll need bespoke carpentry,’ says Sara. ‘But it’ll make a great top floor suite.’ She also intends to go even darker in the master bedroom. ‘It’ll be the same colour as the living room but on the ceiling, skirting boards, doors and radiators, too. I’ve even bought black plug sockets.’

Sara Colclough and David Brass have added character to their new build home with a colourful makeover

The top floor bedroom gets used mostly by Sara’s dad, who stays over once a week to look after his grandchildren, but it’ll eventually become the master bedroom. ‘The wallpaper was the starting point,’ says Sara. ‘It has the feel of a fairytale garden at night.’ Still Life with Shadows blue wallpaper and cushion, Ellie Cashman Design (opens in new tab). Oslo bed, Oak Furniture Land (opens in new tab), is similar. Silvia ceiling light, Umage (opens in new tab). Glam gold floor lamp, Audenza (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

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