By Robyn Bardgett
Home renovations are in demand. If you’re considering changes to your home think carefully about what is important to incorporate and what might be a waste of money down the road
Those days and months stuck at home during the pandemic have given us the opportunity to recognise what rooms and spaces no longer worked for our needs, or, that the space had the potential to be exactly what we needed it to be but with a little bit of work.
Although people are starting to make their way back into the office or head further ashore to travel again, there has still been interest in giving our space an update.
While there’s never a better time to give our homes a refresh, it’s still important to look forward and think how the space can continue to work for us or have the potential to add value if we plan to sell in the future.
It can be tempting to want to go into full renovation mode, but even if a full renovation isn’t in the budget there are ways to update our space.
Some of the key areas to consider are outdoor space. Refreshing the outside of the property makes a difference, even if it’s just a newly painted roof.
“Having good kerb appeal will certainly increase desirability of a property,” said Suzanne Stones, a chartered valuation surveyor. “Similarly, a clean and freshly painted roof may entice more buyers to look at a property and make a bid.”
Even if selling your home is not necessarily in the current plans, there are important areas to consider, such as creating multipurpose spaces, rooms with flexibility and not wasting space on “formal” rooms, explained interior designer Beth MacDonald.
She added that a “pleasing and super comfortable indoor and outdoor space, as well as a beautiful and interesting garden – another room just outdoors” can add value and a fresh update to a home.
Ms Stones, who runs Bermuda Valuers & Appraisers with Steve Bowie, added, “we are finding that there is an increased demand for quality outdoor spaces, whether for outdoor entertaining, such as built-in kitchens and barbecue areas, or more space for children to play.”
Another important element in our homes that has changed due to the pandemic is the need for home offices and study areas or multipurpose spaces and rooms with flexibility.
“The major design trend of the last decade or so was the open plan house,” said Ms MacDonald. “With Covid and people home and working, living and attending online school, the open plan home just doesn’t work. It’s good to be sure your home has a balance of a central space for multipurpose use but to also have defined secondary spaces that can multifunction for work, play, life and everything in between.”
Ben Rego, real estate advisor for Rego Sotheby’s, believes remote working environments will continue to be vital.
“The attractiveness of working from home will likely become more of a long-term reality in the future. I have seen people transform areas such as their garage, pool house, dining or living room, and even a walk-in closet transformed into a home office retreat.
“Of course, creating a home office, even if in a little corner of an existing room is the biggest trend; establishing neat and efficient playroom spaces to keep children occupied and engaged are key over the pandemic period.”
Another area that many buyers and homeowners put a lot of value into are kitchens and bathrooms, said Mr Rego. These are a great area to consider updating if a home is in need of a refresh.
“One way to get more bang for your buck is renovations in the key areas of a home, such as the kitchen or bathroom,” he said. “These areas are the most highly scrutinised and simple replacements such as hardware and handles can be replaced throughout. Doing this with more contemporary, high-end pieces, as well as simply repainting or staining cabinets will give the new popular look seen in magazines without needing to replace everything.”
Mr Rego also strongly advised people to declutter, particularly if the plan is to sell in the near future.
“I think all the extra time at home has caused many of us to look around our property and over analyse everything and throw unneeded items out. Making your space as clean, bright and airy as possible is not only satisfying but gives a far better impression.”
He also agreed that an outdoor space can be a major area to invest in.
“Homes with their own producing garden with fruit and vegetables are definitely more attractive now, as we all aim to be as self-sufficient and ‘green’ as we possibly can,” said Mr Rego.
But whether we’re making changes to our home with the intention to sell or to make a space more comfortable, it’s still important to make the changes for ourselves and not to “do what Joe down the road thinks is cool,” according to Ms MacDonald.
She added, “do what you think will improve your home for you and your household and what suits your budget. Keep it simple. Overcomplicated things rarely last, so the pool that flashes colours in tune to music may not be a great investment. After a year of being at home surely we have learnt what we really like and are far less influenced by our peers.”
She said that the trend of “blingy” homes has been pushed aside to allow for “comfortable, highly functional, easy, friendly and practical.”
“Boasting to your peers has taken the back burner to enjoyment of your space yourself. Just as high fashion has ditched the six-inch heels, over the top dressing and heavily incorporated the loungewear concept, so too have luxury homes.”
When considering budget, Ms Stones advised that “careful consideration should be given to the cost of a project and if the property is located in an area that will support higher values.
“And if it is about quality of life then the cost is not as relevant, as long as the debt from the project can be serviced,” she advised.
While it is important to weigh up how an overly personalised space might play into a potential sale of the property, as some choices may not always attract a wide pool of buyers, there are still ways to make a space your own.
“If keen to sell one day, perhaps best to make the most drastic and creative changes in smaller niche spaces that do not take over the entire feel and overall flow of the home,” said Mr Rego.
“Home truly is where the heart is and it really needs to be a safe place where people can express themselves and gain daily inspiration from living there.”
Ms MacDonald concluded: “Be true to yourself, what your household likes to do and how you like to do it. Ease, simplicity, comfort, practicality – those always add great value to any home.”