Renovations in country homes have shot up as a result of the pandemic in line with the shift in interest from city to rural living, new research from bespoke kitchen designer and architectural joinery specialist Artichoke confirms. Demand for these property upgrades shows no sign of slowing in summer 2021 and beyond.
Artichoke saw renovation enquiries from country homeowners double from 2019 to 2020, with its clients spending anything from £1m to £20m per home in 2020. Interior design studio VSP Interiors, award-winning sculpture company David Harber, and luxury outdoor furniture maker Gaze Burvill also noted increased interest from those living in the country, with Gaze Burvill’s customers doubling their typical order sizes during the health crisis.
The trend is being attributed to people selling up in London, keeping a pied-à-terre in the capital but relocating their main residence to the countryside, predominantly in the Home Counties which offer easy commuting distance.
Artichoke, VSP Interiors, David Harber and Gaze Burvill all reported growing their teams over the past year in order to meet increased countryside demand, with Gaze Burvill hiring three times its usual number of apprentices during the pandemic.
Most popular countryside renovations during the pandemic
Both Artichoke and VSP Interiors have seen a particular spike in clients requesting more entertainment space in their country abodes, whether this is moving kitchens into old ballrooms or converting outhouses into private bars or ‘party barns’. This is likely to ensure that their homes can provide a fun space in the event of another lockdown.
VSP Interiors has noted clients’ desires to bring wellness into their home during the pandemic, having installed whole floors of spa facilities in country homes, including steam baths, pools and gyms.
Both VSP Interiors and Gaze Burvill have noticed that people have been prioritising time in nature thanks to the pandemic, and this has been reflected in a higher level of garden renovations, with home gardens being transformed into everything from personal crop farms to zen relaxation spaces.
Simon Burvill, co-founder of Gaze Burvill, said:
“This year, people are increasingly turning to their gardens for exercise, stress relief, and a creative outlet. One of the most popular trends is ‘grow your own.”
As expected, Artichoke noted many clients adding office space to their country homes, either adapting a room in the main house or repurposing stable blocks and barns.
Artichoke predicts that this increase in luxury countryside renovations will continue as more houses gain the planning permission that they applied for in lockdown, and owners begin to think more seriously about the design of their interiors. Artichoke, VSP Interiors, David Harber and Gaze Burvill all reported that the increased demand showed no sign of slowing, with Gaze Burvill stating that the problem is now meeting that heightened demand, with a shortage of materials and labour sometimes leading to longer lead times.
Artichoke believes that people’s desire to spend more time in their countryside homes is here to stay, with the normalisation of working from home playing a big part in this.
Artichoke founder Bruce Hodgson said:
“We have seen an increase in clients spending more time working from home. The introduction of new technologies such as Elon Musk’s Starlink programme will only facilitate this further. We have one client who has actually ceased leasing her London office altogether and is moving her staff down to her estate in Berkshire, so many of her staff will be reverse commuting.
This sentiment is echoed by VSP Interiors, which emphasises the wellness factor of the countryside.
VSP Interiors’ creative director, Henriette Von Stockhausen, said:
“I think this will be an ongoing trend as people realise what the countryside has to offer in terms of quality of life as well as benefiting both mental and general health.”