Sarah Beeny’s top tips to renovate your house

By Ellyn Peratikou

Has the start of 2014 given you itchy feet?

If you’ve decided you want to sell your home or renovate certain areas, take inspiration from Sarah Beeny’s simple tips. whether moving house or staying put, you’ll reap the renovation rewards

More and more homeowners are looking to improve what they have rather than move. And often it’s the smaller, cheaper and easier improvements that are more cost-effective than big, expensive projects. Tidying the exterior of your home, such as repointing the brickwork or replacing an old garage door, can hugely improve its value and can attract potential buyers. Here are some inexpensive ideas you can use in your home and garden in 2014 so that when the property market picks up, you’re several steps ahead of the game in terms of getting a sale.


A fresh coat of paint is a quick way to freshen a tired look. Natural, light colours brighten a dull room and give the illusion of space. Sarah Beeny, home improvement expert and presenter of Double Your House For Half The Money says: ‘Don’t repaint the whole room, just touch up areas that need it using a large brush.’ Paint costs less than £15 for a 2.5l tub – so it’s a cheap improvement!

Secret storage

Space for clutter is a vital factor for many families when it comes to buying a property. Transform your under the stairs space into storage – hooks for coats, shelving for shoes, even space for ugly, bulky recycling. Under-bed storage is great, too. Many daybeds are designed with in-built drawers while some double beds lift up revealing a hidden base offering plentiful hidden storage! For a simple and stylish idea, invest in chests or box-style coffee tables to declutter at the drop of a hat.

Kitchen class

A solid, well-fitted kitchen is one of the first things a buyer looks for, and the idea is to fit one that can withstand fashion trends. If you’re on a budget, small changes will create a clean and practical kitchen, such as replacing handles, door units and the worktop. ‘Give zest to a tired kitchen with new tiles. If you’re retiling a big area, you may need to replaster,’ says Sarah. You can spend thousands on a new kitchen but if you look around you can also pick one up for £1,500-£2,000. An updated, modern kitchen can add up to 10% to the value of a home – it’s a worthy investment.

Wonder windows

Double glazing appeals to buyers because it cuts fuel bills and reduces outside noise. Double glazed PVCu windows require very little upkeep, are energy efficient and can be very safe. They cost around £350 per window you have fitted, but can add considerable value to your home, as much as 4%.

Garden genius

Keeping your outdoors in good condition and making the most of the space will help to increase the price of your home. A smart front garden sets a great first impression for buyers. Spending around £1,000 on garden improvements can add up to £5,000 to the total value of your home. Sarah says: ‘The garden is now seen as an additional room, so be sure to make your garden feel like a great space for entertaining and relaxing.’ If you can, add a shed for extra storage space.

Fabulous flooring

Forget patterned carpets, buyers prefer understated, and neutral-coloured flooring. A solid wood floor can cost from £25 per m² but it will add more value to your home than any other flooring choice. Laminate flooring is also a good option, as is vinyl. ‘You can’t go wrong with either,’ says Sarah. ‘Both types are hardwearing and easy to clean.’ Such flooring will be a good selling point for families with kids and pets. Sarah advises: ‘If your floorboards are looking worn, cover them in coloured varnish.’

at home guest editor, Sarah Beeny says… ‘Timber or good quality laminate is a great choice for living spaces. Flooring should blend in and fit the style of your property. To soften the look, you can add a rug with colours to match your décor.’

Bathroom blitz

A place for pampering and relaxation. That’s what your bathroom should be – and a stylish, modern bathroom will add value to your home. After the kitchen, it’s the room that potential buyers pay most interest in. There mustn’t be an inch of mould in sight! If your existing suite is chipped, stained or outdated in colour, replace it with a basic white one that will attract buyers. Sarah says: ‘If the tiles around the bath are showing their age, a coat of specialist tile paint is a cheap and easy new look.’ It’s possible to get a decent bathroom suite from as little as £500, and it can add up to 3% to the value. New taps alone, from as little as £20, can transform the look.

However, for a total revamp, opt for a modern walk-in shower to give that boutique hotel look. Some designs perfectly fit the space of your former bath meaning they can be installed in a matter of hours! No fuss, but compact – and practical – style.

at home guest editor, Sarah Beeny says… ‘Really good lighting is vital in your bathroom. It needs to be bright over mirrors and if you have a bath, dimmed lighting is sensible for when you want to relax.’

Fire up a fine feature

A stunning fireplace creates a real style statement in your living room and in the winter months this main attraction comes into its own. There’s a wide choice available, from contemporary gas and electric appliances to traditional, or modern, wood burning stoves – your choice will depend on the style and age of your house. Wood burning stoves are a good financial choice, as the average family household can save around £400 in heating bills. Many are, in fact, powered by electricity, gas or fuel, but all look fantastic, with the flames creating both a soothing, yet dramatic, effect. Contemporary fireplaces are stylish enough to remain a room’s main feature all year round.

If your heating system needs an overhaul before you consider selling, a wood burning stove is a wise financial investment, at around £1,000 to install as opposed to £4,000 for a traditional boiler.

at home guest editor, Sarah Beeny says… ‘Wood burning stoves are a great way of making heat and they save you money on heating bills. Plus, the range of different styles means they fit into any décor.’


Insider know-how

If you’ve secured those viewings, these tricks can help get a sale:

Lighting. Get this wrong and you could lose a sale, but get it right and you can totally transform a room. Even a table lamp can have an impact. Many high street shops sell modern light fittings at pretty reasonable prices. Or if you want to create a focal point in a particular room, a large, floor-standing light will help to add the wow factor.

Accessories. Small flourishes, such as vases, and cushion covers are all great ways of bringing life
to a room. Try to keep the designs fairly neutral – a vivid orange cushion clashing with a cerise pink rug might not be to everyone’s taste!

Possessions. Keep personal items, such as framed photographs, out of sight. There’s a fine line between maintaining a lived-in feel and rooms feeling bare, but overall buyers want a fairly blank canvas so they can easily imagine putting their own stamp on the house.

 Words: Jo Willacy Image: John Carey

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