Home Improvement: Do you move or improve to get your dream home?

Ikea's office under the stairs

Ikea's office under the stairs - Credit: Archant

Everyone has a vision of their dream home – a beautiful living space, spacious kitchen or airy bedrooms.

Convert your garage into a living space

Convert your garage into a living space - Credit: Archant

But here Ellen Widdup questions whether the answer is moving house or adapting what you already have. What features would your dream house boast?

Houz - kitchen-diner

Houz - kitchen-diner - Credit: Archant

A bigger kitchen? A study or office space? More room for the kids?

Many homeowners become obsessed with what their current house lacks and focus squarely on relocation – and often this is the best answer.

But sometimes the dream house you have been yearning after is actually the one you already live in.

Why not save the cash you would have spent on estate agents, legal fees and removal men and spend it upgrading the place you already have?

After all, you could open up all sorts of opportunities to make your living space work better for you – and add thousands of pounds to the value of your house.

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Small changes, big impact

Firstly you need to ask yourself “what changes would make a difference to my life?”

Are you faced with piles of clutter? Do you need a space to work from home? Or is it an extra bedroom needed to accommodate a growing family?

Petra Vitler, of Rendlesham-based Suffolk Interior Design, is an expert in finding solutions to unlock unseen potential in homes.

She believes that with some clever planning every house has more to offer.

“An average house move costs around £8,000 in expenses, that’s excluding the stamp duty and removal men,” she said.

“That’s a sizeable amount of cash that’s going to be lining someone else’s pocket. Add eye-watering stamp duty costs and you’ve probably already spent £20,000.

“If you were to re-invest that cash into the property rather than using it to move you could reap great rewards.

“Simply re-arranging the ground floor of your house could create just the extra space you require, re-configuring the landing, bathroom and or separate toilet can create heaps of space providing an en-suite or another bedroom.”

Petra also suggests converting the loft or cellar may offer opportunities to maximize the square meterage of a property. She is also a fan of extensions.

“Knocking the kitchen and dining room into one can create a huge room,” she said. “While it’s still used for the same purpose - cooking and dining - the ‘missing’ wall creates a super-sized feeling with good flow and usage.

“Therefore you’re no longer separated from company in the kitchen you’re now cooking and dining in an open plan room with everything designed to make the space feel as large as possible, from streamlined units to rectangular tables, creating an elongated feeling of space.

“Bi -fold doors to the garden bring the outdoors to the kitchen which again adds to the sense of space and light.”

Space to run a business?

One of the most common reasons for needing more space is the increase in the number of people working from home.

But even the smallest corner could work perfectly.

And thanks to the revolution in decent flat-pack furniture - spearheaded by Swedish retail giant Ikea – it is no longer wildly expensive to transform your home into a business hub. Visit www.ideahouz.com for inspiration.

Petra added: “Do you have a large entrance hall? Could part of this be re-configured or utilised as a study area for instance.

“Could your lounge be extended into a redundant playroom or study, or perhaps you could convert a garage to an additional room?

“Don’t rule out changes such as moving the kitchen from the back to the front of the house, it may seem like major building work but it’s all perfectly workable and could just mean that the house you’re thinking of selling is in fact your perfect home, it just needs a few tweaks.”

Top tips:

Draw a layout plan of your home floor by floor on paper. Doesn’t have to be to scale at this stage just note the rooms and the spaces between.

Write out a list of what doesn’t work for you in your home and why. Are the bathrooms too small? Are there not enough bedrooms? Do you need a utility room?

Look at the used and unused space. Do you have a dining room that’s only used for high days and holidays? Is there space under the stairs going to waste?

Is the entrance hall or landing disproportionate to the rest of the house?

Can you convert a loft, cellar or garage?