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What not to do to your home: 10 things to avoid

Before you start digging those foundations for that Scandi plunge pool, or whip out your tape measure to Insta-fy the whole house read these 10 essential tips on how not to devalue your home.

Becky Sage has seen a lot of houses in her 20 years as an estate agent, so who better to tell us what adds value (and more importantly what doesn’t!).

Brace yourself for a few surprises, as she reveals some of the home improvements you might want to think twice about …

Hello Becky, tell us a bit about you?

Fifteen years ago I stepped away from a demanding senior management role in Bristol to focus on starting a family and my passion – home interiors! I fell in love with the countryside in Uley and never looked back. I was working at an estate agents when COVID hit, my job was under threat so I took the leap and Sage Residential was born – quite literally out of lockdown!

I pride myself on knowing each property inside out, what some might call ‘a good old-fashioned service’ but with cutting edge technology.

OK, spill the beans .. where are the top 5 places to buy right now?

Cirencester, offers all of the amenities of a thriving town and surrounded by beautiful countryside, while the London commute takes just over 1 hour from nearby Kemble. Stow-on-the-Wold, again for its travel links, fabulous countryside and proximity to Daylesford Organic farm and Spa! My other tips are the less manicured but very attractive towns of Nailsworth and Stroud, both offer excellent indie shops and restaurants, schools and green spaces, plus Stroud has a station with a direct link to London. It’s an increasingly popular area, my insider tip is to also look at the ‘high up’ villages of Amberley and St Chloe, with their spectacular views.

In Worcs, Great Malvern at the foot of the Malvern Hills has a lot to offer socially and culturally This is a really popular area with commuters to Birmingham or to Bristol, or simply those wanting a beautiful landscape.

And the hot, up and coming area to watch?

Brimscombe is the hot tip

Brimscombe in Stroud is scheduled to undergo huge regeneration around the docks – it’s an exciting time to buy around there. And the villages of Cam and Coaley near Dursley are up and coming too. The train station at Cam offers an easy commute to Bristol or Cheltenham.

Where would we find you on a day off?

Stroud Farmer’s Market has a brilliant bohemian vibe, and I love the newly revamped Five Valleys Shopping Centre with its indoor artisan market. I’d then head for some shopping to Cheltenham – the Promenade is my favourites with shops like Toast, The White Company and Anthropologie.

I’d come home for lunch at the Vestry Café in Uley which serves the best milkshakes around according to my daughter! Then maybe a slab of cake at Thistledown Café, in Nympsfield. If there’s time I’d squeeze in some shopping in Nailsworth – I love Domestic Science with its artisan homewares, Truce, a Scandi design store and Junglist Atelier for a superb range of house plants.

Becky’s 10 Tips on what NOT to waste your money on when you’re doing up a home …

1. Don’t create a beautiful kitchen which isn’t large enough to use as a kitchen-diner. The investment won’t pay off as prospective buyers are likely to want to reconfigure. The trend for large kitchen-diners is here to stay, with dining in very much the new eating out. After a year of limited socialising we are long overdue some fantastic dinner parties.

When planning your kitchen, consider designing it so that it connects seamlessly with your garden, with socialising in mind you’ll ideally want a space that’s at least 30 meters square, it certainly needs to be a large and inviting space in comparison to the rest of your home. Integrated appliances create a clean line, and range cookers are always a popular choice. An Aga is a wonderfully aesthetic detail in a country kitchen, but not everyone enjoys cooking on them. If you choose an Aga consider adding a counter top induction hob.

2 Avoid top heavy homes. It’s rare people need vast numbers of bedrooms these days, generally flexible living space is in higher demand for office space and hobbies, so if extending consider how future buyers will want to use the space. There’s also an increasing demand for downstairs bathrooms, and a room with potential to be used as a bedroom for those downsizing or retiring and hoping to future-proof. Bottom-heavy homes definitely give a greater degree of flexibility.

3. Avoid cheap fittings in high-end homes. A discerning buyer seeking a luxury home will spot budget carpets or laminate flooring a mile off! Cotswold Wood Floors have a good reputation and offer reclaimed timber as well as new, a great choice for retaining the integrity of a character home. Winnens Flooring & Interiors with showrooms in Cheltenham and Cirencester have a range of flooring options including British wool carpets.

Knowing the provenance of your fixtures and fittings is a useful marketing tool whatever your budget, it’s appealing for buyers to hear the story behind items within your home whether they are reclaimed, original features, locally sourced or environmentally friendly.

4. Excessive spending in a low to mid range home is unlikely to be recouped. You can purchase some excellent yet inexpensive high street kitchens nowadays, which when coordinated with more luxurious work-surfaces, taps and tiling will have the same impact at a fraction of the cost. Keep the budget between £20,000 and £25,000 for a kitchen in a home with a market value below £500,000, companies like Wren and Howdens can offer excellent products for far less than this, while more artisan companies like Woodchester Cabinet Makers offer solid wooden ‘off the peg’ shaker style kitchens which are surprisingly good value.

5 Avoid decorating in bold colours, or with heavily personalised wallpapers. Yes, it’s tempting if you fall in love with a ‘look’ but keep things clean and simple – a blank canvas that will appeal to the masses might seem boring but is much safer. Keep statement colours to furnishings and accessories or choose small accent areas like a cooker splashback, downstairs loo or utility room to indulge your creative streak. If you are keen on colour, the trend for subtler countryside-inspired tones remain popular – in particular green tones. My favourites are Farrow and Ball’s French Gray (which looks different in every room), Lichen – which has a lovely depth and tone, if you are looking for a suits-all white you can’t go wrong with School House White.

Sage by Little Greene

Little Greene Paint & Paper have a lovely palette of colours and great eco-credentials. Two greens in this range I love for a pop of colour are ‘Olive Colour’ and of course ‘Sage Green’. Susie Watson Designs is a relative newcomer to the paint-scene but has an attractive and quite subtle range of popular colours, all designed to compliment her extensive range of fabrics.

6 Avoid bulky curtains and pelmets. Once fashionable but not any longer! Do not block out natural light at all costs, particularly in cottage style properties where windows tend to be smaller and set deep intowalls. Custom made shutters are a great option and have kerb-appeal in a character home, offering simplicity and clean lines. Equally, well fitted fabric blinds are a polished window dressing solution without compromising on light, allowing you the opportunity to be adventurous with your fabric choice. If you are dressing the vast windows of a Victorian or Georgian home however, go ahead and indulge your creativity with swathes of fabric!

7. Be choosy about your flowers during show-arounds. Strongly scented flowers such as lilies and hyacinths are marmite – and some people find them so intense it is distracting and can create a negative association. Instead opt for a good quality reed diffuser using essential oils rather than a synthetic fragrance, try The White Company, Skandinavisk or True Grace for a brilliant range of authentic smelling and effective diffusers. Another great alternative is an electronic diffuser which doubles up as a humidifier as well, combating the drying effects of central heating. The White Company has them as do John Lewis.

8 Don’t skimp on home tech. Live in an older property by all means, but consider installing smart home products like Hive to increase productivity and help with energy usage, and don’t forget USB ports if you are replacing sockets. An increasingly common request is an electrical vehicle charging point – worth considering if you are planning on updating your electrics. This will become an even hotter topic as we move towards the phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030.

9 Don’t put unnecessary furnishings in small spaces. If you have a small entrance or hallway keep it functional and as clear as possible to avoid buyers feeling claustrophobic, this is particularly important in the current climate when we are all so conscious of keeping our distance. Remove clutter and perhaps add a mirror instead – the reflected light will give an illusion of space. If coats and shoes need to live in your entrance space ensure you have good functional storage to minimise clutter. Scumble Goosie based in Stroud offer a good range of custom-built and off-the-peg storage options.

10 Don’t overlook what an asset a boiling water and filtered water tap is in your kitchen. An expense yes, but worth every penny – not least for the benefit of less clutter on your counter top. Quooker is a leading brand offering a range of varying solutions, I love my Perrin and Rowe combination tap which I was able to source in a finish to exactly match my aged brass kitchen fittings! A worthwhile investment, and a much admired addition to a beautiful kitchen.

Want to buy or sell your home?  Sage Residential is a truly local estate agent, serving Uley and surrounding villages. Bringing you more than 20 years of estate agency experience and a huge amount of local knowledge. Contact Becky at www.sageresidential.co.uk for friendly chat or call 01453 860980.

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