24 February, 2015
The property market is an ever-changing entity; homeowners' wants and needs yo-yo up and down almost as much as property prices. Understanding what buyers desire is therefore important if you're trying to sell your home this year. So for anyone eyeing up the listings with intent, read on to find out what trends are in and what are out.
Dining kitchens, not dining rooms
Dining rooms are fast becoming extinct in the world of property. Families instead prefer to sit round the kitchen table, not only to eat but also to socialise or help the kids do their homework. Neal Mackenzie, director of Michael Hardy estate agents, says that kitchens have become an entertainment space too, so larger ones are sought-after by buyers.
"Nowadays, there's not really such a thing as the dining room," he notes. "They are increasingly becoming family rooms - using the space in a different way."
If you have a sizeable dining room, it might also be worth considering changing it into another bedroom. This could significantly bolster the value of your home, but this entirely depends on where your old dining room is located. Not many buyers want an extra bedroom on the ground floor if all others are located upstairs - unless, that is, it will be used as a guest room only.
Storage space is shrinking
Garages are becoming less popular with developers of new properties, as those holding the purse strings seek ways to get the best value for money. This means, however, that buyers are losing out in terms of storage space. To combat this, homeowners will be creating innovative storage solutions around the rest of the home. This trend is in part inspired by America's 'tiny homes' movement, where owners are opting to move out of their huge, spacious homes to much smaller, economic alternatives.
However, the storage space trend is not exclusive to small properties; larger homes will adopt it too, as designers use the same innovative storage techniques to make rooms appear bigger than they actually are.
The home office
More than eight out of ten of Britain's smallest businesses (firms that employee fewer than ten people) now operate at home, according to research from Lloyds Bank Insurance. In order to turn their home into a workplace environment, more than three quarters have made significant changes to their property, with 42 per cent choosing to turn one of their rooms into a permanent office.
If you have a spare room (maybe your old dining room!), you could showcase its suitability as a home office. Such spaces will only rise in demand over the course of 2015, especially since employers now have to offer their staff members flexible working where possible. There is a good chance that more people will get the opportunity to work from home as a result, so homeowners will require a quiet area where they can work outside of the office.
Go back a few years and ensuite bathrooms were the most coveted home luxury. Now, we stressed and overworked Brits have gone one step further, preferring a bathroom that doubles up as an entire spa. Jacuzzis, giant bathtubs, walk-in showers and even saunas will become much more popular this year, especially in properties at the higher end of the market.
You don't need a huge renovation budget to create a bathroom with a luxury spa feel, though. Some soft towels, heated bath rails and a spacious new shower can go a long way. Focus on creating a space that homeowners can truly relax and escape in, so they forget about those office stresses.
Less is more
When it comes to interior design trends, programs like BBC2's 'Great Interior Design Challenge' have a lot to answer for. Homeowners are embracing their creative side and 'upcycling' old items to give them a new use. For example, baskets can be made into lampshades and an old suitcase can become a side table. In addition, homeowners are updating rooms on the cheap by doing something as simple as repainting the kitchen cupboards.
Neal went on to note that the minimalist look is growing in popularity, not just because of changing tastes but also as a way of making rooms look larger.
"The cottage style is less popular, with people going for fewer pictures that are larger, instead of small frames and trinkets everywhere," he commented.
Most estate agents will tell you to get rid of the clutter if you're planning to sell your home, so by reducing the number of possessions you have on show means you won't have to go through a big upheaval when you put your property on the market.
Whether you're one of those people who simply must keep up with the Joneses, or you're thinking of selling up this year, it's important to pay attention to all these trends. There's no point having a stunning dining room if it's going unused - utilise the space you have! Plus, these trends give you the perfect excuse to transform that tired bathroom into the luxury spa you've always wanted.