Changing Rooms & Trends
I noticed the other day that Channel 4 are rebooting an old classic. Yes, after 17 long years, and without us realising we had missed it, we will soon see the return of Changing Rooms. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has returned to makeover poor unsuspecting folks rooms in his inimitable style. Unfortunately for me, Carole (oh so) Smilie has fallen by the wayside, but the format of the show remains.
It seems that time hasn’t dimmed Laurence’s passion to push his style on to the public, and even at 56 years old he still feels comfortable enough to wear leather trousers – you have to admire his front. Competing neighbours employ the services of a design guru to make up a room of their home for them to then decide which is best and probably win some tacky prize. They were seen filming in Leigh on Sea a while ago and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen was at The Corner Club and preening himself outside our office (pictured). We will wait for that episode with particular interest.
Seeing the announcement of the remake of this programme makes me look back to when it was on previously. 17 years ago doesn’t feel that long ago but is a lifetime when it comes to the housing market and decor trends.
Back in the day Changing Rooms was a massive show and spawned a frenzy of homeowners trying to emulate the style of the designers on show. Stipple effect painted walls were all the style with dado rails, flock wallpaper and large flowing window coverings all making their own mark.
Every house I visited back then was full of colour or had a thousand different paint samples on the walls with the owners still deliberating on which stencil to use for the feature wall. Each room had its style and colour. A lot of the time I was tempted to wear shades to protect my eyes – even when telling people how lovely their homes were!
Even though owners would spend significant time and money investing in these lavish styles, believe it or not, it was quite difficult to sell a property that was so meticulously designed. Buyers wanted a doer-upper. They wanted to add their mark. Properties that needed a bit of work were the most popular, people fought over the blank canvas’s – excited about what they could do to them.
What a difference 17 years makes! Now it is quite rare to see colour in a property. Unless it is Farrow & Ball railings of course or something poncy like that. Most properties are white throughout (including mine) and the idea of people wanting to roll their sleeves up and stencil the walls is laughable.
People are still interested in the doer-uppers but not as much and these properties don’t just get a feature wallpaper wall anymore they get the full treatment with walls smashed out, extensions and huge refurbishment programmes. The most popular properties now though are those that are done where very little or no work is required for the new owner. People are prepared to pay huge premiums for ‘turnkey’ properties that they can just move into and luckily the formula for this property seems to suit everyone. Minimalism is in vogue – white walls, grey carpets, grey kitchens, window shutters, white bathrooms, and of course, the trend for knocking out walls and large open plan rooms is still a thing.
I must admit that I am a fan myself and all of these trends are conducive with family living so work very well in modern times. Also having lived through a large refurbishment programme on my own home I can fully appreciate the upheaval that this brings with it and the cost.
A huge factor contributing to this desire for turnkey properties is the cost of building work has gone through the roof, with some materials alone increasing in cost by 25% over the last year.
This, along with the risk involved, the time a renovation takes, the worry of finding the right builders and then the long list of other things like obtaining planning permission it becomes more obvious why people would want to take the easier route.
It will be interesting in another 17 years (I should still be here) to see if the trend reverses. Will we go back to small rooms, lounges, dining rooms, tv rooms, kitchens rather than the big open plan spaces? Will we see the return of colour to our homes? I for one hope so as it makes my job interesting, but whether I am brave enough to do it myself is another matter entirely.