PANDEMIC EXTENSIONS, MOVE OR IMPROVE YOUR HOME?…

With property value going up throughout the UK and many people now working at least part time from home, the biggest decision to make is, ‘do your move or improve’ your home?

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant many of us have had time on our hands, including my son and his wife who moved close to us in January. They have both said after renting for so many years they want this to be their forever home so it is important they get it how they like.

They put a ‘to do’ list down and included in that list was either a loft extension or kitchen extension. Loft conversions are probably one of the most popular home improvement projects because they are cost affective and are a cheaper way of expanding the size of your home. An extension would be considerably more expensive than a Live in Lofts extension, but you are able to do a lot more with an extension than a loft conversion. Wiring and heating also costs more in an extension, so it’s worth thinking about all the extra costs before you decide how you want to create more space in your home. Kitchen extensions are renowned for going above your original budget so there is a lot to think about when deciding on any type of extension work.

It has been proven to help your mind body and soul that some of the smallest of corners in a quiet area of your home could easily be changed into a reading/relaxing area, so it doesn’t need to be a large extension to give you some yen in your life. This is where a good, local, experienced estate agent, AMS housing Group or chartered surveyor should be able to help. I am addicted to the BBC 2’s programme ‘Your Home Made Perfect’ which helps a couple decide how they want their home made perfect. The kitchen seems to be the big one they all do but some end up going right through the house.

A great book to buy is ‘Mad About The House Planner, Your Home, Your Story’ by Kate Watson-Smyth (Author).

Interiors expert Kate Watson-Smyth brings you the Mad About the House Planner for everything you need to know when renovating your home. With more and more of us working from home and spending more time in the house, it’s more important than ever that our homes are adaptable and welcoming. Packed with Kate’s knowledge and enthusiasm, this journal offers you ways to renovate your home room by room, with a focus on sustainability and money-saving tips. Also included in this handy planner are accounts pages to note down what you’re spending money on – and when – as you renovate, an address book for useful contacts and tradesmen, checklists for all the essentials in each room, grid pages to draw your own floorplans and space to jot down your favourite shops, inspiration and websites. Beautifully packaged with ribbon markers, this is a journal to treasure and keep a record of your home’s journey.

Chapters include:
First Things First
 – planning your home: who will be using the space, when, where and how? Plus tips for the big move-in day
The Entrance Hall – how to create the perfect hallway; stairs, carpets and storage solutions
The Kitchen – planning the space, kitchen appliance tips and how to upscale a cheap kitchen
The Bathroom – where to spend and where to save, carrying your style into the bathroom
The Living Room – making the best use of the space, tips for flooring and rugs; buying vintage and salvaging preloved furniture
The Main Bedroom – reflecting your sleeping habits in your colour scheme, ideal storage and lighting solutions
The Second Bedroom – how to create the perfect nursery or spare room, how to adapt the room as your family grows up
The Third Bedroom – how to create the ideal room for teenagers and guests
The Home Office – working from home is here to stay, so decorate to create the best working environment for you.
Your Home, Your Lists: packed with Kate’s tips for upscaling your home and go-to places, plus space to add your own favourites, make lists and budget sheets.

According to This Is Money a study by Nationwide found that adding an extra double bedroom and ensuite to a three-bedroom house via an extension or loft conversion increased its value by more than 20 per cent.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average house price in the UK is £245,000 – so a 20 per cent value uplift of £49,000 would more than cover the cost of the average extension. A loft conversion or extension may add 10 to 15 per cent to its value.

Design For Me reminds us that in recent years the government have relaxed planning rules in regards to extensions. The changes have given homeowners more flexibility to improve and increase the value of their homes. Previously, without planning permission, you could add a single-storey extension of up to 3 meters in depth for an attached property and 4m to a detached house, these distances have been doubled.

Design For Me say it is impossible to put an exact figure on this as it varies depending on the type of extension, the house, the location of the property and remember that most statistics are averages and can vary considerably from project to project.

BOOK REVIEWS OF THE MONTH ON IMAGES OF A HYGGE LIFESTYLE…

I have two brilliant book review for this month. Both books are great and would look amazing on your coffee table.

Inspire Your Home: Easy Affordable Ideas to Make Every Room Glamorous by Farah Merhi. This gorgeous book is full of inspiring ideas and images to set your mind on fire. Farah Merhi launched Inspire Me! Home Decor in 2012 as a creative outlet during a transitional time in her life. Farah was about to graduate college and planned to attend law school. Going through the motions and feeling unfulfilled in her career choice, she built up the courage to face her truth. Taking time off to figure herself out, Farah, through a remodel project in her home, had her “ah-ha” moment. The importance of taking care of your home, specifically in the way you clean, organize, and design, was instilled in her at a young age, but she didn’t realize how much of an impact her upbringing had until she owned her own home. Farah knew she had found her passion and calling, and was determined to inspire home owners to live their best lives in their homes.

Her design style is elegant and glamorous but infused with warmth and coziness, creating a welcoming feel with neutral color palletes, soft and inviting fabrics, and exquisite design details that can work in any room. Farah walks you through every room in the house from the mudroom to the kitchen and kids’ bedrooms. Woven throughout are Farah’s personal stories that will feel like you’re getting design advice from a close friend. Everyone deserves to walk into a beautifully decorated home every day—now you can, with the inspiration and practical tips in Inspire Your Home. Available from Amazon and other good book stores for around £23.99 (Hardcover).

My second choice this month is Home for the Soul: Sustainable and Thoughtful Decorating and Design by Sara Bird & Dan Duchars. Another lovely hardback book for your coffee table. A beautiful book with views of some amazing homes full of peace and tranquility. The photography and ideas will inspire and guide you on how to create the whole look.

Sara Bird and Dan Duchars show how to create a beautiful home that suits its inhabitants while causing minimum damage to our increasingly fragile environment including using non toxic, vegan paints and fabrics. The first section shares ideas for the elements of a stylish yet sustainable home, from lighting to linens, while in Part Two, Sara and Dan visit soulful homes and their owners to discover how they have created interiors that are beautiful yet responsible at the same time. Home for the Soul shows how a mindful, ethically sourced and eco-friendly ethos can be at the heart of modern homemaking. It looks at sustainable, renewable and reclaimed materials, using traditional skills and choosing organic and hand-produced homewares. No matter how new or old a building, or what your own particular style is, there are simple ways to add warmth, contentment and soul to our homes. Available from Amazon and other good book shops from £14.69

HYGGE MONTHLY BOOK REVIEWS…

Hygge : The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Søderberg 

At these times it is crucial for me to have hygge. Hygge time with family and friends, hygge moments with myself and a hyggelig home.

It’s small moments that money cannot buy you, finding the magic in the ordinary.’ Whether it’s listening to the rain with a cup of tea, or going on a long walk with a loved one, hygge can be harnessed all around us. We all know the feeling of hygge instinctively, but few of us ever manage to capture it for more than a moment.

Now Danish actress and hygge aficionado Marie Tourell Søderberg has travelled the length and breadth of her home country to create the perfect guide to cooking, decorating and enjoying yourself, inspired the hygge way.

It introduces you to Hygge with ideas, practices, steps and photographs and a guide to happy living which we could all do with a bit of that at the moment. It’s full of lovely photos and encouragement to introduce hygge into your life. Currently on offer on Amazon for £11.33 ( Hardback).

Hygge: Unlock the Danish Art of Coziness and Happiness by  Barbara Hayden 

Cravings for comfort, for coziness, for contentment: everyone experiences the desire for a happier, less stressful, and more serene life.

Hygge, the Danish-born philosophy, is one proven way to achieve such a life. From the Old Norse for “well-being,” hygge embodies a philosophy that is as much a mindset as it is a way of life.

Specific activities are designed to encourage you to cultivate togetherness and joy at the smallest and simplest things in everyday life.

This book provides an in-depth explanation of the hygge lifestyle, as well as numerous bits of practical advice on how to practice hygge every day.

As you read this book, you will find the following, and much, much more!

  • A thorough grounding in the Danish art of hygge, the lifestyle equivalent of embracing a hug from the inside out
  • The eight ways to incorporate practical aspects of hygge into every part of your daily life, from hearth and home to food and crafts
  • The four things you should know about nurturing happy and serene relationships with children, parents, partners, and friends
  • Why living your life in a constant rush and stress – even if it feels materially lucrative – is not the path to ultimate happiness. Instead, engage with the simple things in life with gratitude and pleasure.
  • How to achieve household harmony without sacrificing friends and self-care
  • How to foster a sense of cozy happiness throughout the year, with simple ideas for each season and holiday
  • How to do all the above, surrounded by family and friends – the hallmark of a happy life
  • Learning to embrace the homemade and the found, creating thoughtful gifts and meaningful interactions in every aspect of your life
  • How to do all the above in frugal, environmentally responsible – and undeniably entertaining – ways
  • The fundamental understanding of where true happiness comes from and how you can embark on your journey to joy today!
  • And much, much more!

Take a second to imagine how you’ll feel once you start practicing hygge, and how your family and friends will react when they start to experience the joys of a peaceful, cozy, happy life. Even if you feel that your life is too busy to slow down and enjoy all the benefits of hygge, you can certainly achieve a state of hyggelige with a little assistance from the tips and techniques offered throughout this book.

Beginning to practice hygge in your life simply requires a desire to create an atmosphere conducive to comfort and calm, a focus on togetherness and family rather than work and status, and a belief that material wealth and consumer products do not equal happiness. Rather, it is an intrinsic feeling that comes from leading a comforting life of self-care and well-being. Success, following hygge, is not defined via one material thing. Rather, success is about work-life balance, creativity, and productivity in your life, comfort, and happiness in your home.

It is an ideal introduction to the concept of hygge with added references to art of mindfulness which I have written lots about on my other blog. Available from Amazon for £10.85