When we welcome guests into our home, we hope they walk away talking about how lovely it is. But when it comes to spending our hard-earned cash on home improvements, are we focusing on the right things?
New research from Hitachi Personal Finance reveals the areas that people first notice when visiting someone's home compared to our top property priorities, plus the experts have given their tips on the best changes to make to improve those all-important first impressions.
With recent research suggesting it only takes seven seconds for someone to make a first impression, it’s no wonder people take so much notice of the things they see first. The top five things people notice about your home on arrival are:
1. Front door / porch (30%)
2. Hallway/entry hall/staircase (30%)
3. Driveway / front garden (27%)
4. Overall decor / Interior design (25%)
5. Living room (23%)
Although the entrance to a home is ranked the most noticeable, only 2% of people focus on this area of their own home when they first move in, with the majority confessing they chose to fix up their kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms first.
Looking at the difference between the sexes, 28% of women notice the overall décor of a home compared to just 21% of men, and strangely, women are also quicker to notice the smell of a home compared to men (20% for women vs 13% for men). When it comes to the ages, the under 35’s are quick to notice integrated technology compared to just 2% of over 35’s.
Commenting on these findings, a number of experts have provided decoration tips to spruce up the top five most noticeable areas of your home:
1. Front Door
It’s no surprise that the front door is the first thing that people see about your home, and it is now often seen as a reflection of your taste and lifestyle. Tom Swallow from Quickslide comments: “Entrances should feel protective yet warm and welcoming. Achieving this with a bog-standard front door can be difficult.
That’s why our top tip is to tell a story, your story, through style and colour. Consider what impression you want to give to your guests. Understand the emotions associated with different colours. For example, soft shades of Lavender are often associated with elegance, wealth and preciousness, whereas Cobalt blue can symbolise trust and intelligence.”
Homeowners themselves don’t spend too much of their time in the hallway or stairwell, so it’s often forgotten, but it’s arguably the most important part of the home. Sitting in the centre and leading off into other rooms, the hallway can be a busy area, and is the second (30%) most noticeable thing about your home, so it’s important to keep it looking its best.
There are multiple ways of dressing up a hallway with a quick splash of fresh paint or a new runner on the stairs. For wooden stairs, painting the vertical side of each step can liven things up, and add heaps of personality. Laying down new floor tiles will dramatically change the look and feel of a hallway, and adding typical hallway furniture will make any hallway more inviting. A cheaper alternative to add personality is with a picture gallery leading upstairs, giving guests an insight into what is important to you.
However, it’s also important to remember that the hallway is a very functional space, so don’t do anything that could sabotage that, such as laying a luxurious carpet that is bound to get ruined by dirty shoes.
3. Front garden
Former Kew Gardener, Scott Chandler, suggests working with the seasons to bring vibrant pops of colour to any outdoor space, all year round. “It is possible to achieve a low maintenance garden which has maximum visual impact; bay trees on the patio will look smart, or even invest in a few shrubs or colourful pots to keep your garden looking healthy and green during the winter months. Ten years ago, astroturf was hardly ever seen and now it’s the norm in many properties.”
Andy Baxter, interior expert at Internet Gardener suggests: “Highlight your front garden’s best features using lighting. The great thing about garden lighting is that you can focus attention away from your garden’s more unsightly aspects, such as your bin shed, and toward your front door- as if to say, ‘come on in!’. I also enjoy playing around with different types of lighting to conjure up different atmospheres with my home. For example, fairy lights can give your home a magical, cosy feel while spotlights can make your home appear more sophisticated.”
4. Overall decor
With so many different rooms to change, changing the overall decor of a home is harder than it sounds. If you don’t have an eye for interior design or have an unusual style, sticking to a soft colour scheme and adding your personality in with your own furniture and homeware is always a safe bet.
Natalie Lockwood from Little Mill House explains: “A simple way to freshen up your new home in the early days of living there is to add artwork. Framed in coordinating frames, artwork will add fluidity between the rooms and instantly add personality, making the space feel like your own until you have the time and the budget to tackle larger projects. If you don't already have a collection of artwork you can easily build one focussing on your interests, places you love and your favourite colours.”
5. Living room
Emma Heath, Lake Lovers office supervisor says: “For us, living rooms are all about a welcoming atmosphere. Building charm and character aren’t always the easiest, especially in newer homes, but there are some ways to get around this. Architectural lighting work particularly well, something that stands out and creates a focal point within the room. Feature wallpaper in neutral colours can also be used to create strong accent walls, and give character to space.”
Vincent Reboul, Managing Director at Hitachi Personal Finance said: “In the last five years, most (74%) homeowners told us they have re-painted or wallpapered a room in their house, and half (48%) have put down new flooring, showing the effort made to keep up with trends.
Whether you’re taking on a smaller or larger project, figuring out where to start first can be daunting. Taking the time to look at your budget and calculate the costs to redecorate each area is one way of making sure your budget won’t burn out halfway through a big job.”