When I put a call out on instagram to help me find some great interior instagram accounts that belonged to new build home owners, I was staggered at the diversity of the response and how different everyone’s homes looked. One of the homes that caught my eye the most was that of Sam Dukes, @divinespace I had been following Sam for a while and always admired her flawless collection of artwork set against her mid century furniture. I had never realised that Sam was living in a new build home; I wouldn’t even have thought she had a home as new as a 1980s build because she has created the most wonderful cottage feel with such a unique charm.

In chatting to Sam it is clear that she has an instinct for how to pick out pieces that compliment her beautiful collection of artwork. Team that with her incredible flooring and characterful touches like her wood burner and its no wonder her home can easily be mistaken for a much more period property.

Sam Dukes_living room 2
Sam’s gorgeous living room featuring Millie the cat


Hi Sam! Your home has such charm and personality; I adore the blend of vintage in such a new space. I’m intrigued though… what attracted you to buying your new build?

Sam Dukes_quoteTo be honest, we weren’t really looking for a new build. We moved from London to Kent and had been renting a very small cottage to make sure we liked the area we had chosen. When we came to buy, there was absolutely nothing available in our price range. We suddenly found ourselves in a situation where the owners of the property we were renting were returning from overseas and we needed to get out within a few months. We saw that two new build properties were being built in the area and decided to visit the site. Although on paper, they ticked a lot of boxes, we had always lived in older properties and were very nervous of the prospect of a new build. However, we really didn’t want to rent any longer and took the plunge and bought one of the properties off-plan.

Sam Dukes_sideboard
This Sideboard is one of my personal favourites from Sam’s glorious collection of antique furniture


That certainly sounds stressful! Looks like it was circumstance more than anything else, so as someone that previously lived in period properties, what has been your biggest challenge with decorating your home?

Adding character! As the house was still being built there was still time to influence some things like the flooring and so we paid a bit extra and installed beautiful aged oak floorboards in a wide plank to put some character into the property. We also wanted a fireplace but the developers were in such a hurry for a decision we decided to leave it until we had lived there for a bit which worked out really well in the end as we installed a log burner in a corner that we wouldn’t have thought of until we knew how we were going to use the space.

Sam Dukes_wood burner
The floorboards and wood burner add character beyond the age of the house and give a modern cottage feel


I can’t believe you had such a fab option for your flooring! We were actually quite limited in choice; your floors are fantastic and definitely add personality. Your home also pulls together so much character with the gorgeous pieces of furniture and art that you have. How would you describe your style?

I love mid-century furniture and art and definitely have quite eclectic tastes and so like to mix old and new pieces. We were lucky to already own quite a bit of original art which always gets people talking when they visit. We also had a pretty limited budget and so most of our furniture has been bought from auction sites, markets and vintage shops and I think this adds interest to the property and avoids the “show home” effect that can be quite easy to slip into with a new build.

Sam Dukes_art
Another piece from Sam’s enviable collection of Artwork


It’s definitely more of a challenge to add your personality to a property when you haven’t got high ceilings, ornate cornices and original fireplaces but it’s not impossible. We’ve been here for eight years now and the place is constantly evolving and I’m now trying to add more colour to the space.

Sam Dukes_sons bedroom
This characterful and unique bedroom belongs to Sam’s 16 year old son. I adore the colour blocking in here!


8 years! Wow! We’ve been in our home for a year and a half and I feel like the constant evolution is essential if you truly embrace your own tastes; also if you’re a serial faffer / rearranger like we are!  As a self confessed colour lover, I really enjoying seeing how you are adding different hues to your walls; both yours and your sons rooms are looking fantastic!

Sam Dukes_bedroom revamp
Sam’s recently revamped bedroom where she has painted the wall in a deep navy. I love the unusual furniture choices; those little chairs are so sweet!


I also couldn’t agree more about the “show home effect” and I certainly share your longing for cornices and fireplaces, but as you say these “features” don’t look quite right in a clearly new build home. So what advice would you give a new build home owner to avoid the “show home effect”?

Having been a new-build avoider for years, I would definitely do it again. If you’re lucky enough to buy off-plan, negotiate with the developer to make more changes to suit your lifestyle – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If the place is already finished, then I would say don’t be afraid to get interior inspiration from older properties featured on instagram, like Kate Watson-Smyth, Kristine HallLisa Dawson, and Dee Campling.  Also look  at pinterest and in magazines and use them as inspiration in your own home; although be careful not to make your home a pastiche of an older property. There really are no rules, just be true to your own tastes and make sure your home reflects your own style.

Sam Dukes_dining room

I couldn’t have said that any better than Sam, we are clearly aligned in our thinking that your home is for you and no one else. I am so drawn to Sam’s home because you can feel the attention to detail and curating of much loved artwork and vintage furniture juxtaposed with neutral walls. Sam has done a fantastic job of creating a cottage feel; the key word there being feel. Sam’s home is not a theme, its not a recreation, its not an imitation. Its a home, and what a gorgeous home it is!

PHD LOGO CIRCLEIf you live in a characterful new build home or would like to nominate someone with a new build to take part in a future Blog Posts, please reach out via the contact page. I look forward to hearing from you!

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