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Refresh your home

Smart upgrades to add space or value

After a luxe look for your living space or considering a full-scale home extension? Designers, architects and builders reveal smart fixes to give your property a fresh look, more space or added value.

Read tips on low, mid and large scale renovations by selecting from the dropdown menu below
  • Low cost, big impact

    Dreaming of a lush living space? There are a number of ways to help breathe new life into your home without it costing thousands.

    We’ve spoken to interior design experts for simple solutions to help you make a big impact and boost your property’s value this season.

    Create the illusion of a larger living space 

    One way to create atmosphere and add space is to consider lighting, says Simon Dodsworth, director of design at KLC School of Design and author of 'The Fundamentals of Interior Design'.

    “Illuminating dark and neglected corners of the room with lamps or wall lights is a cost-effective way to add space. Having multiple sources of light can really help to add depth in a room too.” 

    He also suggests looking for underused areas of your home and turning them into relaxing reading spots with an armchair, a reading light and a side table. This trick can instantly add to the living space in your home, he says. “Antique chandeliers or modern cluster lighting create a focal point and add character. Statement lighting can be picked up for as little as £50.” 

    Update existing furniture 

    For a luxurious look without having to replace older pieces of furniture consider a quick lick of paint, says Victoria Harrison, editor of home renovation and design platform, Houzz.co.uk

    “One of the real advantages of painting your furniture is that it doesn’t need to look too perfect,” says Victoria. “In fact, a distressed paint job can even instil character and personality.” 

    To really make an impact, she suggests being brave with your choice of colour. “A single piece of painted furniture can transform a whole room if you go for a ‘power shade’. If the rest of the room is white or cream, for example, paint a dresser or wardrobe a vibrant colour such as cobalt blue.”

    A number of websites offer advice and step-by-step guides to painting furniture. 

    Go bold with colours

    Vibrant colours, bold hues and flamboyant wallpaper can add a premium finish to your home – and it’s a trend that’s becoming more popular with homeowners, Simon says. According to Simon, it’s easy to tap into this trend without investing a large amount of money and it can help to give your home that ‘wow’ factor.

    “Maximalism, as it’s known, doesn’t have to be over the top and can be sophisticated. Creating a focal point with rich colours and opulent wallpaper is a chic way to spruce up your home.” He suggests painting with jewel tones and continuing the maximalism style onto your flooring by choosing a striking rug. 

    Meanwhile, Victoria suggests painting your ceiling to really make it stand out. “Want to make a design impact that goes beyond your four walls? Why not look up to the 'fifth wall' and use colour and texture on your ceiling? If you’re using paint in this way, keep the rest of the room simple, so the ceiling is the main feature.” 

    Focus on your front door

    To create the ultimate welcome – and boost your home’s appeal before anyone steps inside – start with the front door. 

    If you’re looking to get a new front door, a popular option is uPVC – a weather-resistant type of ‘plastic door’ which usually costs up to £380 1. However, alongside the material you choose, the final price will depend on factors such as its size and any labour costs. It may sound obvious but before choosing a door, you’ll need to know the frame dimensions (by noting the width, height and diagonal measurements) as well as what energy standard, material and style you’re after.

    Simon recommends taking the surrounding architecture into consideration when choosing a new door to ensure that it’s in keeping with the rest of the property. 

    Alternatively, for a cost-effective front door refresh, simply repaint your existing door. “Try experimenting with this year’s colour trends and paint the door a striking yellow, vibrant purple or slate grey. Choosing to repaint your door yourself, rather than replace it entirely, can slash the costs to as low as £30 for specialist paint,” Simon says.

    Before you get started

    From lamps to cushions and wallpaper, don’t forget that cashback can help you get more from your money. 

    You can get cashback paid into your current account with us when you shop through us online and on the high street at over 150 participating retailers, including B&Q, Argos and Dreams. Terms and conditions and retailer exclusions apply. Plus, if you’ve switched on Barclays Blue Rewards, you get an extra 1% cashback2.

  • Mid-size remodels

    Sometimes, renovating just one room can make all the difference when it comes to creating an opulent look without doing large-scale home improvements. And, when done well, a one-room revamp can provide a smart return for investment by increasing the value of your property.

    We’ve asked experts for their advice on how to kick-start a one-room renovation, focusing on three options: kitchen, bathroom or living room.

    Update the heart of the home

    The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home – and it can be one of the most valuable rooms to renovate3.

    And, from small fixes to a full makeover, there are a number of options to help you create a functional and inviting space for cooking, entertaining and celebrating. An interior designer or architect can often advise on how to get the most from your space, including everything from replacing worktops and plastering walls to a complete remodel. 

    Charles Bettes, managing director at architecture firm gpad london, says space is a key consideration. “Maximising storage and simplifying a space by hiding clutter can make a kitchen feel larger and more welcoming.”

    One way to give your kitchen an instant facelift is to replace cupboards and cabinets, Charles says. “There are also little tricks, such as using pull-out storage to save floor space and make a kitchen more useable,” he says.

    If you’re looking to do a complete remodel, the cost will depend on a range of factors including size, layout, fittings and how much work needs to be done. On average, a new kitchen costs about £8,000, which includes VAT and fittings but excludes appliances and any preparation work that may be needed such as plastering walls, removing wallpaper or removing an old kitchen4. Plus, should you ever consider selling, estate agents say a new kitchen will typically add 5.5% to a home’s value3. Your contractor should be able to advise on how long the work will take. 

    Consider a small space 

    Creating a chic and elegant bathroom can make a big difference aesthetically, while also typically adding about 2.6% to a home’s value3

    Expect to pay between £2,500 and £6,000 for a basic bathroom replacement and upwards of £6,000 for a luxury bathroom5. Aspects such as the type of bathroom suite you choose, electrical work, plumbing, tiling, flooring and any removal costs could affect the final price.  

    For smaller-scale options that are still cost-effective, consider re-grouting tiles or replacing fixtures and handles, Charles says.

    “To achieve a bathroom with a contemporary feel, without it being too stark, stick to clean lines and warm and subtle shades with small elements of colour or details to provide interest.”

    Open up your living space

    If you’re after a bright and flexible living space that feels inviting, consider an open-plan lounge and kitchen – and sometimes the solution can be as simple as the removal of one wall.

    Charles advises: “Something that’s becoming increasingly popular is the notion of ‘semi-open plan’ which involves replacing a wall with something like wooden slats. This can really brighten a space and allows you to create a sense of intimacy too.”

    A lighter, brighter feel to your living space can also improve your home’s value. Research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and HomeOwners Alliance shows that creating an open-plan kitchen and dining room can add up to £50,000 to an averagely priced home in London in just one week – at a cost of less than £3,500 6.

    “Investing in low-cost, high-return projects will not only make your home a more pleasant place to live, but increase its value significantly. Better still, these projects take no time at all, so the hassle factor will be kept to an absolute minimum,” says Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB.

    The positioning and structure of your staircase could also have an impact on your open-plan living space, Charles says. “Replacing a staircase wall with oak slats on a recent project flooded the downstairs space with light. It’s completely changed the living experience for the homeowners who feel like they’ve moved to somewhere new.” 

    Before you get started

    For advice on what type of renovations could work for your home, contact an interior designer or architect – the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a good place to start. Get quotes from builders to compare prices and ensure any work that's being carried out fits your budget. 

    Don’t forget to take out home insurance cover before any works start. You can insure things that matter to you with Barclays Premium Home Insurance – plus, if you’re doing building works under £75,000, your home will remain protected. Terms and conditions apply.

    You’ll also need to consider how you’ll pay for the renovations. If you’re looking for options outside of your personal savings, consider a Premier Barclayloan. You can borrow £1,000 – £50,000 for terms from two to five years. Subject to status. Terms, conditions and early settlement fees apply.

  • Large-scale conversions

    Renovating or extending are popular ways to unlock more space without having to move – and can often provide a significant boost in a property’s value should you ever look to sell7.

    But, whether you’re after an airy home office or a cosy cinema room, there are several areas to consider. 

    We’ve spoken to builders, conversion specialists and industry experts to help with everything from choosing the right conversion to the nitty-gritty of planning permissions.

    Ready to take the plunge?

    Loft conversions 

    Loft extensions are growing in popularity in the UK and can be one of the top ways to add value3. A conversion typically costs between £21,000 – £44,000, depending on the size and complexity of the job8.

    However, from dormer conversions (adding dormer windows to an existing loft) to hip-to-gable (extending the roof outwards to add extra space), there are several options to consider – and a specialist can help you figure out what’s possible. It’s worth remembering that loft conversions can create more than one space, Simply Loft Director Rob Wood says. 

    “With a little guidance, your loft can be transformed into one of the most stylish areas of the house. On a recent project in London, the conversion resulted in two bedrooms, one bathroom, a small study area and a connecting roof terrace!”

    Basement conversions

    From cosy cinema rooms to yoga studios, homeowners are becoming increasingly creative with basement conversions. And, if you already have a rarely used cellar, you could be sitting on a relatively easy way to get more space in your home.

    It may sound obvious, but converting an existing full-sized basement into a living space is more cost-effective than digging a new basement from scratch. If you have a shallow basement, lowering the floor level to increase head room can also substantially increase the cost. Expect to pay up to £1,500 per square metre for a straight conversion, up to £2,000 per square metre for lowering the ground floor and underpinning an existing cellar, and up to about £3,000 per square metre if you’re creating a new basement from scratch9.

    A key consideration for underground conversions is lighting, says Stephen Hunt of construction company Kisiel Group. “It’s all about thinking outside the box. We had to get imaginative on a large extension recently, and worked to brighten the lower basement level using a light well in the garden above.”

    Side extensions

    A well-designed extension can give you a large entertaining space or a new lifestyle nook you never knew you needed, experts say.

    Everything from soil type to size will impact on the cost of your extension. On average, you should allow about £1,250 – £2,500 per square metre for a single-storey home extension in London10

    And it doesn’t have to be big to make a real difference.

    “Sometimes, small is beautiful. A clever use of space during one extension in West London meant that extending just 1.4m transformed a couple of dark shady rooms into a stunning living space,” Stephen says.

    What are the key considerations?  

    The first step is finding an expert or specialist – such as an architect or bespoke designer – who can help with inspiration as well as planning.

    “Experts, such as architects, add value in many ways. They think creatively to maximise light and space, add functionality or achieve the best return for your investment,” says a Royal Institute of British Architects spokesperson. 

    To find the right specialist, contact firms who have completed extensions similar to what you’d like to build, or look to a trade association such as the Federation of Master Builders or the Royal Institute of British Architects.  

    In terms of consents, it’s possible you may need a party wall agreement with your neighbours as well as Building Regulations approval from your local authority. Find out more about what consents you might need here.

    Loft, basement and minor extensions may fall within permitted development limits, which means planning permission is not required. However, it’s worth noting that the extended permitted development limits introduced by the government in 2003 are set to expire in May 2019.

    “Homeowners considering a larger extension should talk to designers and builders to see whether they can schedule the work before May. At this moment in time, we can’t be sure the current limits will still be in place after then,” says Andrew Dixon, FMB Head of Policy.

    Before any work begins, make sure you have the right cover in place. You can insure things that matter to you with Barclays Premium Home Insurance – plus, if you’re doing building works under £75,000, your home will remain protected. Terms and conditions apply.

    What finance options are there?

    One way to finance a larger-scale home improvement project is by borrowing against your home. If you own your home outright, find out more about your exclusive Premier mortgage options here – or, if you already have a mortgage with us, you can apply to borrow more here

    Usually the maximum age at the end of a mortgage term is 70 or your retirement age – whichever is sooner. If you’ll be older than this, we’ll still consider your application but you’ll need to provide us with proof that you’ll be able to repay your mortgage when it extends into your retirement. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

    Alternatively, consider a Premier Barclayloan. You can borrow £1,000 – £50,000 for terms from two to five years. Subject to status. Terms and conditions and early settlement fees apply.

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