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How to create a workstation anywhere in your home

Working from home, or ‘WFH’ as is now the trend, is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity and part of the new ‘normal’.

After a while, however, the novelty of working with your laptop on your knee while watching daytime TV, or being constantly distracted by household chores, wears off. As with the desire to have a garden or more outside space, a comfortable workstation is likely to become a must-have for home movers.

If you’re a vendor, it’s time to show how versatile your home is in accommodating a WFH area. And if you’re currently evaluating how to utilise the space in your own home, here are some ideas for creating a home office anywhere.

All you need is a desk space and some imagination to create the perfect and most productive environment to work from home.

The ‘other’ room
We say ‘other’ because no room in any house is ever spare for very long. Either you’ve already made it into an inviting guest bedroom or perhaps a walk-in wardrobe. Most probably, it’s become the junk room – a hoarding place for everything and anything.

Whatever the case, it’s time for a clear-out and rethink. This doesn’t mean that your guest bedroom can’t double up as your office or you can’t store an overflow of belongings in some well-placed furniture. It’s about being creative with the space you have so it becomes multifunctional.

If you have the room, it might be as simple as swapping the dressing table for a trendy desk. If space is a little tight and your budget allows, then consider swapping the double bed for a sofa bed. If there is barely room for anything other than a bed, then there are some innovative flip-down wall-mounted desk options.

For those lucky enough to be able to use an entire room as their office, the world really is your oyster. Have fun decorating and browsing for the right furniture and accessories (more on this later).

Communal living spaces
There’s absolutely no reason why the breakfast bar in your kitchen, table in your dining room or coffee table in your lounge can’t facilitate your laptop from time to time.

If, however, working from home is likely to become a more permanent fixture in your professional schedule, then you should think about creating a dedicated area – even if it’s temporary.

Fold-away desks, C-shaped and pop-up coffee tables (perfect for the living room) are great and can be pushed aside at the end of the working day. You can even get desks that slide out from under your breakfast bar and use kitchen cabinets and tall cupboards as secret office spaces.

If you have no choice but to work from the surfaces available and sit on the sofa with a lap desk (not recommended), think about getting an increasingly popular stand up desk. They are quite small and will give you that much-needed break from sitting down all day.

Unconventional cubby-holes
There are probably plenty of corners, cupboards and cubby-holes in your home that you could transform into a workstation.

Some are easily modified while others need full conversions but under the stairs, alcoves, landings, hallways and larders are just some areas you could make your dedicated office area. Here’s a great example of an office under the stairs. And if you have room for a sideboard, could you trade it in or adapt it to become a desk?

Corners are also highly under-utilised, used mostly for lamps and collecting cobwebs, so a corner desk could be a great investment. The same goes for under windows where slim desks would help create a workstation with a view.

Final tips & touches
So, you’ve now found the ideal location in your home for a workstation but is it productive and safe?

You will find you are more productive when you’re relaxed and have all the tools you need. This means not being distracted by the pile of dishes on your kitchen worktop or slowed down by your laptop’s touchpad.

Ensure your working environment is clear of clutter and distractions so you can focus on the task in hand. You could even invest in a decent lamp and maybe a house plant. Also try to mimic your usual working style when in the office – using two screens, a mouse and a keyboard, if that’s what you’re used to.

Mundane as it sounds, a workstation self-assessment will help you avoid any long-term physical strains from inadequate home working set-ups. Your physical health is important too. Slouching on the sofa or perching on a bar stool all day is not good for posture. Get yourself an ergonomic chair or sitting aids like wedges.

And let’s face it, the working-from home trend is unlikely to go away any time soon, so it’s time to get comfortable.

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Happy road. Happy prices!

Many of us have heard of the ‘Waitrose effect’ – the link between the value of a property and how close it is to a branch of the upscale supermarket – but did you know how happy your road name sounds can also impact how much your home is worth?

Positivity lifts prices
New research by Bankrate discovered a correlation between streets with upbeat names and a property’s potential selling price. In fact, its analysis of thousands of road names in the UK found that a positively-named road could add as much as £24,830.86 in value.

Some happy monikers add more value than others, with Chipper the top name – possibly adding as much as £56 £56,571 to a home’s selling price. This was followed by Pretty (+£44,918; Gay (+£40,293); Pleasure (+£39,029); Dancers (+£32,029); Beam (+£30,623), Heaven (+£29,273) and Merry (+£27,619).

Of all the different happy road names, Hope was the most popular, appearing in 216 road names in the UK. Taking second spot in the most-common list was Summer (127 different streets) and coming in third was Sunny (in the title of 126 separate UK roads).

Apply to change
With such value attached to road names, it may come as a surprise that Government guidelines state residents can actually apply to have their road name changed. A request needs to be made to the local council, who will also consult with Royal Mail before a decision is made.

The request must also have strong grounds – such as a large group of residents being unhappy with the street name – and it’s worth bearing mind the process can be lengthy, not always successful and with no guarantee a granted change will inflate your house price.

So, will we see a rise in applications for new road names that reflect an emblem that has become the symbol of hope and gratitude during the pandemic – the rainbow? The name already sits at number 9 in the 10 most popular happy road names, found in 48 different streets in the UK but we think Rainbow Walk and Rainbow Road just might become more common.

Other road names where money matters
Past research by Zoopla found some of the most valuable homes in the UK were along roads that featured the words Warren, Chase or Mount in their name, while addresses that had a royal connection – Queen, King, Prince, Princess and Elizabeth – also cost significantly more that the average UK property. At the other end of the scale, the roads with the lowest value homes were found to have Court, Terrace or Street in their address.

Add or change a house name
If your property is known by a name and not a number, you’re half way to adding value but a subtle tweak can make all the difference. If your property’s character lends itself to the name, ‘Cottage’ is reputed to be one house name that makes a property more desirable, along with Hall. No name? No worries. Although you can’t apply to remove your house number, your local council may permit you to add a name that can be used as the first line of your address.

If you have a property to sell or rent in a happy, royal or grand-sounding road, please get in touch and we’d be happy to supply a free, no-obligation valuation.

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Thinking outside the box: 3 key rules to maximise small spaces

Since the 1980s, houses across the UK have been getting smaller, with many incorporating that common design flaw known as the box room. Over the last ten years, the average number of bedrooms in new homes dropped below three for the first time ever and living room sizes are the smallest they’ve been in 50 years.
Thankfully, homeowners and tenants alike have become more innovative and interior design approaches more creative; even the most restricted of spaces can be easily transformed.

Whether you’re preparing to put your house on the market or want to make a small room feel bigger in a home you’ve just moved to, following these three key rules will help:

1. Less is more
While you may feel the urge to ‘stuff’ as much ‘stuff’ as you can into a room, this is a big mistake. Clutter, especially for home sellers, makes a room look messy and cramped. To open out the room, think about how you can store belongings out of sight.

When it comes to ornaments, select one or two large feature pieces that catch the eye rather than multiples of miniature nicknacks. The same goes for furniture. Choose larger statement pieces that make the room appear calm, not crammed.

Avoid dark colours, despite what interior trends dictate. Dark colours absorb light and can create a sense of oppression in small spaces, so choose light, soft shades from the same colour family for your walls, floors and ceilings. You may also consider striped wallpaper to elongate either the height or width of a room.

2. Create a room with a view

If your room has no windows – like many bathrooms in a mid-terrace – or there is barely room to swing a cat, expanding the view of a room to make it appear more spacious is crucial. It’s all about smoke and mirrors – well, kind of.

Mirrors certainly help give the illusion of space, as does glass, reflective surfaces or Perspex furnishings. Strategically placing a mirror opposite a window – or a doorway in a windowless room – can make a space feel twice its actual size, while transparent tabletops let light flow freely. Clear, as opposed to opaque shower doors, also have the same effect in small bathrooms.

Go easy on the window dressings to ensure you let in as much natural light as possible. You may want to think about leaving windows uncovered altogether, if appropriate, or use sheer fabrics for a less stuffy feel.

If you have limited natural light, consider adding a couple of table or wall lamps in addition to a central ceiling light, which results in a harsh pool of downlight in one area and leaves corners in gloom.

3. Super space-saving storage

The general rule of thumb is that the more floor you can see, the bigger the room will appear. With this in mind, look for spindle-leg furniture and choose open bed frames over divans so clear space is visible. Ottomans and footstools that double as storage will help keep clutter to a minimum, while folding or ‘pop up’ furniture will save space.

Diagonal lines are the longest in a room, so furniture placed on the angle – such as a coffee table – can work well. Consider vertical storage if your ceilings are low to give the illusion of height and you could install shelves just below the ceiling or above door frames, which makes use of otherwise wasted space and serves to draw the eye upwards.

In larger spaces that are small for their purpose, such as open-plan kitchens and living/dining rooms, use furniture to effectively break up the space without restricting its function. Folding dining tables, alcove seating and a kitchen island unit with a deep enough overhang to accommodate bar stools are good ideas.
With our living spaces getting smaller, we need to ensure our ideas are getting bigger. By following these three key rules, you’ll be able to turn any small room into a functional and stylish space to live, laugh and love.

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The great countryside escape

The coming months look set for a seismic shift in buying and selling habits, with early indications showing that urbanites are ready to swap the city for the countryside.

In fact, analysis of search activity on property portal Rightmove has shown home searches conducted by those in cities – including London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow and Bristol – are rising during lockdown as people reassess what ‘quality of life’ means to them.

Restrictions on movement have highlighted how an open space within walking distance and a private garden are real assets, and it appears lockdown is sending city dwellers running for the hills – quite literally. And who can blame them for feeling a pang of envy when social media is full of posts showing woodland walks and far-reaching field views?

The apparent success of home working is also another factor behind a rise in countryside home searches. A whole host of new locations and settings are possible if office professionals can agree flexible or permanent remote-working rights. This will undoubtedly be a catalyst for a change in commuting habits, with the need to be within striking distance of a business hub a thing of the past.

If you are contemplating an out-of-city move – or you live in a town and want to surround yourself with a more generous amount of greenery – there are some considerations, as we explore:

Keep a city connection
The rural way of life can present a refreshing change of pace but there may be times when you need to travel into a town or city centre – for work or pleasure. Think about rail and road connections in any new location: can you walk to a train station; is there a direct line to major hubs; is the road network reliable?

Research communications
It’s no secret that cities are usually the best connected in terms of broadband and mobile phone reception, when compared to more remote locations. If you’re planning to work from home or your family rely heavily on bandwidth and speeds, it’s worth looking into the cable, broadband and mobile phone signal capacity in any new countryside location.

Be ready to embrace ‘off grid’
You may not give some of your current home comforts a second thought but removing yourself from the rat race may come with caveats. Some properties in the countryside won’t be connected to the main gas board, drainage system or cabling network, so ask how happy you’d be with oil-fired central heating, an overhead electricity supply, a cesspit or satellite broadband.

If you’re ready to swap your city brogues for a set of wellington boots, the good news is the property market is back up and running. We would be pleased to provide a current valuation for your property, with a view of moving to the countryside – or just to a new home to suit your re-evaluated lifestyle needs. Please get in touch today and we can start the sales ball rolling.