By Bea Patel, TLE Property Editor and Director of Shop for an Agent
Greeted by fluffy pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets, jet spa baths and a range of Molton Brown products – why wouldn’t we love a good night’s sleep in a luxury or boutique hotel? Meticulously designed rooms are laid out to maximise space, décor and furniture is tailored to the hotel’s style, large spa bathrooms are designed with each tile, feature and amenity firmly in mind. It’s no wonder that post-holiday you have your eyes set on making some home improvements. Who wouldn’t?
But it’s not just hotel designs that evoke our senses, inspiring us to recreate similar surroundings in our own homes. When TV shows such as Celebrity Cribs hit our screens, our curiosity to get a glimpse of others homes emerged – and ‘property porn’ was born. Peeking into windows, over the garden fence and lurking at photos of properties on estate agent’s windows were the traditional methods of getting a glance inside the walls of homes.
Now there are new ways to snoop at homes to spark inspiration for décor ideas. With easy access to property photos online, 360-degree virtual tours and our increased obsession with knowing how other homeowners have designed their homes, research by Heritage Bathrooms show one in five of us have admitted to being a ‘Secret Snooper’.
Reaching for our laptops, tablets or phones and using websites such as Righmove and Zoopla, many have owned up to secretly snooping at their neighbours or similar properties, in an effort to steal their interior designs to make improvements in their own homes. The internet comes with curtain-protection; it has become easier and less risky to admire and steal décor, style and room layout ideas.
The new research also found that the holiday season would lead to 41 per cent of travellers heading home from their holidays this summer, with their sights firmly set on home improvement. Their inspiration comes from the elegant interiors of luxury hotels enjoyed during their stay. The survey also revealed that, in a choice between improving their bathroom, dining room or bedroom, 58 per cent said they plan to give their bathroom a new five star overhaul.
Charlotte Conway, interior designer at Heritage Bathrooms, explains why some homeowners are keen to make these improvements: “It’s no wonder that home owners in the UK are eager to upgrade their bathrooms, with a third of us still contending with coloured bathroom suites. Hotel inspired luxury is one of the biggest prompts to propel people into action to create that deluxe boudoir feel.”
This growing trend has contributed to the rise of companies such as Houzz, a website for home renovation with over seven million photos to browse through for ideas.
Adam Male, founder of online estate agent, Urban.co.uk shares how quickly homeowners will look up properties that go up for sale on their road: “It’s not unusual for the first enquiry for any property fresh to the market to be from a neighbour. Even if it’s not about viewing, often they look to sure up on the value of their own property in comparison.
“At Urban.co.uk, we asked 20 homeowners if they saw a board go up in their road how long it would take them to look up the property on Rightmove, and the results were enlightening. 75 per cent said they would scope out the property within 24 hours, and 100 per cent said they definitely would within a week!
“So why are they looking? The top reason was out of interest to see what their neighbour had done with their space, followed closely by confirming the valuation of their own property. Behind every twitching net curtain, most of us are nosy neighbours at heart, as is shown in the seemingly ever-increasing demand for property programmes. As a nation, we really do love our properties.
“Home improvement, renovations and house prices are often at the tip of our tongues conversations with friends and colleagues, so when someone opens up their home for our scrutiny, it doesn’t take us long to look. An English man’s home really is his castle – and with today’s growing online property market making it ever easier to sneak a peek, we are always interested in what’s behind the penetrable walls of our neighbour’s!”
It’s clear this trend is set to continue, and whether you think secret property snooping is harmless or intrusive, it won’t stop us having a good nose around. Are you open to admitting it? Tell us your reasons for being a secret property snooper.
Image credit: Heritage Bathrooms