How to fall back in love with the unloved (or at least ‘like’, again!)

I hate my bed!  It is a large lump of dark brown leather ruining the effect of the light and elegant dream room I have pictured in my head.  It may have had its day 15 or so years ago when brown leather was all the rage and I jumped on the bandwagon (resulting in severe investment being made in dark woods and leathers and dark brown accessories – ugh now!!!).  I seem to have found myself the proud owner of a plethora of brown leather – sofas and dining chairs… and that bed – all are cold, uncosy, slidey (try watching telly or hosting a dinner party without someone sliding off their chair!).  Here I am now feeling a bit hard done by when all things hygge, scandie, vintage – basically anything other than brown leather – give me oh such a warm and fuzzy feeling (envy??!!!) from the pages of Instagram and Pinterest!

My problem is that when something was such an investment piece, I find it down right and near impossilbe to just bin it to make room for the new love of the moment.  I’d like to think that its because of my incredibly loyal personality not even letting me get rid of old pieces of furniture – but its probaly just another dose of good old Catholic guilt!  I wish I could be one of those people who could purge their living/sleeping spaces of anything unloved and uncomfortable without a second thought and in doing so invite the Universe to fill it with pieces from the dream room in my mind’s eye.

Plus being married to an estate agent, who sees absolutely no value in investing in furniture when a reconfigure or an extension will bring far more value to the place, maybe a bit of truth, but so unsatisfying!!

So, after giving myself a talking to about how I should just get on with the business of creating the dream bedroom, that bloody bed aside,  the decision is to work with the bed and build layers of elegance and cosiness around it!!!  Even if I never intend to fall back in love with the bed itself, to fall in love with my bedroom and at least like the bed, is the aim.

Stay tuned for future posts and stories on Instagram and Twitter, room by room and piece by piece of furniture!




To Reconfigure or Not Reconfigure that is the question?

When you come to sell and you think your property should sell quite quickly and after weeks of marketing and little positive feedback from the buyers, what do you do? Well we think we have the answer-

Background Facts

  • Most Buyers cant see the actual potential in a property
  • On buying a property most initial work a buyer does is usually reconfigured further down the line
  • Most agents don’t know the correct configuration
  • Most agents don’t understand ‘Permitted Development rights
  • Most vendors don’t make the most of there property and it’s full potential

Most vendors aren’t motivated to make changes to help the sale If you think that any of the above has or does apply to you then you might want to consider contacting reconfiguremyhome and get a verbal appraisal and quote. The report we can provide may sway you to make changes or provide your agent with a fresh way to market the property with visual 2d and 3d plans and/or the report

Key Elements for a Great Living Room Layout

A step-by-step guide to choosing furniture and accessories to max space, style and practicality in your living room.


Start with your sofa
Your main sofa will probably be the largest single outlay in your living room and you may well need to get it made to order, so there’s little scope for error in your selection. For a regular sofa, you can choose between a two-seater (typically 150cm long), a 2.5-seater (180cm long) and a three-seater (210cm long).

Think of the room as a whole when making your choice. A three-seater sofa may seem irresistibly indulgent, but an extremely large sofa can overwhelm the average living room and limit the scope for adding other seating.

A 2.5-seater fits three people, so this is a reliable choice as your primary sofa, unless you happen to have an exceptionally small – or large – room. Bear in mind, though, that in reality only two people are probably comfortable sharing a sofa at one time.

An L-shaped sofa will work well in a large, open-plan room, where it can help define the seating area. Choose the length of your main arm first, then the secondary arm, bearing in mind the need for movement and access around the sofa.

Add chairs
Having chosen the perfect sofa, you can now add additional sofas or individual chairs to create a welcoming seating arrangement.

There are no standard sizes for individual chairs, so you’ll need to work with your overall room size and configuration to find what works best. There are an infinite variety of shapes and styles to choose from, including tub chairs, arm-less chairs, swivel chairs and rocking chairs. One zany chair can provide a great focal point.

Be generous with your rug
A large rug will add a powerful focal point to your living room. Pick a rug size that allows everybody to have their feet on the rug when seated. There is really no maximum size for a rug, as a large rug can just extend under furniture.

Choose the right coffee table
A coffee table will reinforce the rug as a focal point and provide a useful surface for books, drinks and nibbles.

As a rule of thumb, it should be the same height as the seat cushions of your main sofa, or a little lower. The overall dimensions of the coffee table will depend on your room, but allow for a space of 30cm to 45cm between the coffee table and any seating around it.

Size up a side table
Having pinned down your essential and largest items, you can now add those small pieces that complete the look and feel of your room.

Low side tables are handy for lamps and that cup of tea while you read the papers. Choose side tables of a height that are easy to reach from your sofa or chair.

Tackle the TV…
You’ll have to decide whether your living room is more a place for gathering or somewhere to relax and watch television.

If a large television isn’t your priority, locate it with this in mind. A low bench, say 45cm high, will place the TV at a height that is comfortable for viewing but which will not allow the screen to dominate the room.

This bench could be placed alongside the fireplace, thereby resolving the battle between these two competing focal points.

Add some art
Art is a great way to create an engaging, complete living space. And how you hang art is just as important as what you hang. You will want to position pieces at average eye level.

A useful rule of thumb is to hang art with the centre of the artwork at standard eye level, which is 150cm above the floor.


How much is living near a supermarket worth?

Research from Lloyds Bank has found that homes within easy reach of a local supermarket are, on average, £21,512 higher than in nearby areas.

Properties in areas with a Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s or Iceland are most likely to command a higher house price premium when compared to the wider town average. And prices near upmarket supermarket brands can be particularly high. For example, the average price for properties within easy reach of a Waitrose is typically £36,480 higher than the wider town average (£429,118 versus £392,939).

Those living close to a Marks and Spencer have the second highest premium, with properties worth an average of £29,992 more than homes further away, followed by Sainsbury’s (£26,081) and even discount chains like Iceland (£22,767) command a strong premium. Homes within easy reach of all four supermarket chains are trading at an average premium of 9%.

Areas close to budget supermarkets have seen biggest house price rises, with growth of 11% in 3 years

House prices close to an Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons or Asda have grown by an average of 11%, or £21,400, since 2014. This is a faster increase than for all supermarkets (9%) and marginally higher than for all areas in England and Wales (10%). In postal districts with an Aldi, the average house price has grown from £178,809 in 2014 to £198,810 in 2017 – an increase of £20,000. In addition, areas with a Lidl have seen average price grow of £23,722 (from £216,258 to £239,981). However, in cash terms the largest price increases remain in postal districts with a Waitrose – £33,015 (from £396,104 to £429,118) or 8%.

The average house price in an area with a Waitrose store is £429,118 – the most expensive of all the chains – and more than double compared to areas with an Aldi store (£198,810), which is the least expensive. The next most expensive are areas with a Marks and Spencer (£350,263) and Sainsbury’s (£314,154).

The ‘Waitrose Effect’ is clear; having a premium brand on your doorstep means buyers typically need to pay top prices. But the research also shows that areas with ‘budget’ stores have, on average, seen the most rapid house price growth in recent years.

There has been some suggestion that the likes of Lidl and Aldi are increasingly locating in more affluent areas where prices are already relatively high. Indeed, in 2014 house prices in areas with a Lidl were, on average, £4,700 lower than in neighbouring areas; today they are £6,400 higher.”

The ‘Waitrose Effect’: Waitrose dominates in eight out of ten regions with largest price premiums

In eight out of ten regions across England and Wales, properties command a premium price compared to other areas in the same town where there is a Waitrose. The greatest house price premium, in cash terms, that can be aligned to a supermarket presence is in the North West. Areas with a local Waitrose store in the region command an average price that is £80,272 (38%) more than the surrounding town. This is followed by the same supermarket brand in the West Midlands (£76,812 or 40%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (£53,924 or 30%).

Large price premiums to have a supermarket on your door step

This review also looked at locations with the highest area to town house price premium, with, Ponteland in Newcastle and Chiswick in Hounslow commanding the greatest average property prices when compared with the surrounding town or local authority borough average.

The average house price in Ponteland, which has a Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Co-Op, and Chiswick, which offers residents a Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer, is 104% and 89% higher respectively than in surrounding areas. In cash terms the premium to live in Ponteland is £200,856 higher than in Newcastle as a whole (£393,502 v.£192,646); whilst in Chiswick this figure is more than double at £444,011 when compared to the average price for the borough of Hounslow (£940,218 v. £496,207).

In the 10 locations with the highest premiums, eight feature Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer. The remaining two areas are Chorlton and neighbouring Didsbury in Manchester with a house premium of 74% or £125,945 and 58% (£98,043) respectively. These areas are dominated by Morrisons, Co-Op, Aldi and Tesco. correctly advise 1st time buyers advised a young couple, first time buyers, as to how to reconfigure this apartment located just off Wimbledon Common.

Requiring the Freeholder’s permission, we advised that a third bedroom could be created by subdividing a bedroom to get an internal, semi open plan kitchen to the living room and convert the kitchen to bedroom 3-Study.

Existing Plans


Proposed Plans


Stamp duty cited as cause of slow April transactions

The latest stats and analysis from HMRC has shown that property transactions were down slightly during April – a 3.2% drop when compared to the previous month.

According to HMRC, the provisional seasonally adjusted UK property transaction count for April 2017 was 99,910 residential and 9,980 non-residential transactions – 20.3% higher compared with the same month last year. However, HMRC warned that direct comparisons of residential transactions between April 2017 and April 2016 should be avoided due to the unusually low level of transactions in April 2016. This was associated with the introduction of the higher tax rates on additional properties introduced in this month.

Stephen Wasserman, Managing Director at West One Loans, comments: “The property market will take a while to fully recover from the jitters caused by stamp duty hikes and economic uncertainty. On top of this, the result of the upcoming General Election is likely to have an impact over the coming months. Nevertheless, we’re confident the sector will bounce back. Although the market is resilient, during times of prolonged economic uncertainty it is important that borrowers are aware of the range of financing available. Flexible borrowing options, such as bridging loans, can help to speed up the transaction, enabling buyers to move faster and capitalise on opportunities in this uncertain environment.”

Shaun Church, Director at Private Finance, comments: “While residential transaction levels are significantly higher than a year ago, the changes to stamp duty for second homebuyers in March 2016 render an annual comparison pointless. Homeowners and investors rushed to beat the deadline last year, which led to an explosive March followed by a quiet April for the residential market. Today’s market remains slightly sluggish, with the number of seasonally adjusted transactions dipping between March and April.

The upcoming election is unlikely to be having a significant effect on property transactions, particularly as the residential market took last year’s Brexit vote in its stride. The main reason behind weaker transaction figures remains the changes to stamp duty, which have particularly limited activity towards the upper end of the housing market.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “At first glance one might think these figures are hugely disappointing but when you consider what was happening this time last year and what has happened to property transactions in the past few months, they represent steady progress for the housing market. Transaction numbers are really key to what is going on in the market – how many people are actually getting on with the business of moving – and these numbers suggest some resilience.

What the HMRC figures do show is the huge impact that changes to stamp duty can have, not just on property transactions but the wider economy bearing in mind how many people are dependent in other trades on people moving home.”


Do party manifestos go far enough on leasehold reforms?

The Conservative and Labour party manifestos published last week include policies to reform certain leasehold practices, including high ground rents and the sale of leasehold houses. But Leasehold Solutions says the policies do not go far enough to tackle other major problems with the leasehold system.

Louie Burns, Managing Director of leading leasehold enfranchisement specialists, Leasehold Solutions, said: “It is encouraging to see that both the Conservatives and Labour are paying attention to some of the problems with leasehold, such as escalating ground rents and the sale of new-build houses as leasehold, particularly as neither party even mentioned leasehold in their 2015 manifestos. The policies outlined in the respective manifestos are a first step in the right direction, but they are insufficient to bring about the reforms needed to free home owners from unfair leasehold practices.”

The Conservative Party manifesto includes a commitment to “crack down on unfair practices in leasehold, such as escalating ground rents.” However, although Prime Minister Theresa May previously stated in Parliament in March that she ‘doesn’t see why’ developers are selling new-build houses as leasehold, the Tory manifesto stops short of calling for policies to reform other aspects of the leasehold sector, such as banning the sale of new-build leasehold houses.

The Labour Party manifesto goes further, promising to give leaseholders “security from rip-off ground rents and end the routine use of leasehold houses in new developments.” Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto makes no reference to leasehold reform.

 Burns continued: “While the sale of new-build leasehold houses has garnered much media attention, the number of these properties is the tip of the iceberg when compared to the volume of leasehold flats coming onto the market in Britain. Many people are also unaware of the implications of letting their lease length fall, which can significantly increase the cost of a lease extension when the time remaining on the lease falls below 80 years.

“Even if onerous ground rent practices are curbed or outlawed, the owners of leasehold flats will still be stung by high fees when they need to extend their lease or purchase their freehold. A better solution would be to abolish the unfair leasehold system, but regrettably none of the major political parties looks to be considering such a reform at this stage.

“The issue of onerous ground rent clauses certainly also needs to be addressed, but it’s equally important that we look again at leasehold valuations, as the system works to the benefit of the freeholder. Under the current valuation methods, which are heavily weighted in favour of freeholders, leaseholders are required to pay inflated fees to extend their lease or purchase their freehold, which costs property owners millions of pounds in additional costs each year.

“We also need a better mechanism for holding errant developers to account; before the leasehold houses scandal, many home owners were unaware that their freehold had been sold out from under them to institutional ground rent investors. These leaseholders are now quoted fees in excess of £40,000 to purchase the freehold, or they are being offered unsatisfactory solutions like converting their 10-year doubling ground rent to one linked to the rate of inflation.

“These are not solutions that will enable the affected home owners to purchase their freehold outright or free themselves from having to pay unfair fees for permissions and licences attached to the lease. We hope the next government will enact legislation to help these people to take back ownership of their freehold at a fair and realistic price.”