We list the five simple things we’re looking forward to when lockdown lifts in this two-minute read.

With the end to lockdown now in sight, it’s impossible not to think excitedly ahead to spring and summer.

We know we won’t be able to do everything all at once – but we can live with that.

There are so many simple things that we’ve missed over the past few months that will make getting out and about in the local area (without too many restrictions) feel like a mini-adventure.

Of course, we dream of flying off to an exotic location, but we also look forward to spending more time with family and friends in Cheshire.

Here’s a list of five things we can’t wait to do after lockdown.

  1. Eat out in our favourite local. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or expensive meal – a quiet outing to a casual eatery with a couple of friends will do us nicely. Our favourite place to dine locally is Define Food and Wine, so expect to see us enjoying a bite to eat and a tipple there when restrictions allow.
  • Get a proper haircut. Lockdown has taught us that there is no substitute for a decent haircut. Hacking away at your own thatch with a pair of blunt scissors or letting your partner loose on your barnet after they’ve watched a YouTube tutorial, just doesn’t cut it. The finished result never looks quite right. 
  • Watch a live performance. We don’t mind if it’s a gig, a stand-up routine or an am-dram production of My Fair Lady; after endless months of staring at screens, we can’t wait to be entertained by real people.
  • Picnic in the park. We fancy greeting friends and family with hugs (no more awkward elbow bumps, please) in Delamere Forest and enjoying a lazy, laid-back picnic. And, of course, we’ll take our rubbish with us when we leave.
  • Watch some live sport. Grassroots sporting clubs have had a tough year, so we’ll be doing our bit to support them when we can.

From everyone here at Storeys, stay safe, stay healthy, and see you soon.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this three-minute read, we look at the paint colours that are making a splash in 2021.

For millions of Brits, getting through this pandemic has been a case of “Keep Calm and Carry On with DIY”.

To stop themselves from climbing the walls from boredom and frustration, they’ve turned to painting them.

As a result, DIY chains such as B&Q have recorded surging sales, while paint company Dulux had to ration the sale of paint pots and testing kits last year to cope with rising demand.

As so many people are giving their homes a fresh lick of paint right now, let’s look at what’s popular in the world of colours.

Call of the wild

A few years ago, magnolia was very much the colour du jour for interiors (in fact, just about every property that came on the market was a vision of yellowy-white).

The perceived wisdom was that magnolia was the best way to create a welcoming but neutral base for home decorating.

But times have changed, paint firms and interior design experts report that being cooped up so much over the past year has made us yearn for nature and fuelled a desire to bring a little bit of the great outdoors indoors. 

As a result, earthy tones are the “new magnolia”.

It’s only natural

Dulux’s Colour of the Year 2021 is Brave Ground, a warm natural shade with a strong brown undertone (some cynics call it beige).

While over at Farrow & Ball, the earthy brown tone Jitney is popular, as is Satin Slipper (an off-white shade akin to a traditional ballet slipper) and Dead Salmon (yes, that really is what it’s called).

The Little Greene Paint Company has also jumped on the ‘earthy’ bandwagon, by unveiling Stone, a range of 36 natural colours that includes the warm neutrals Portland Stone and Travertine.

Meanwhile, Valspar has Seven Sisters or the very bold Aged Cognac.

Greens and blues

Many home renovators are also looking to create tranquil, calm spaces at home (perhaps to counteract all the stress from home-schooling and Zoom calls). 

As a result, blue and green shades are proving popular. Valspar has Sapphire Earbobs, Secluded Cove and Cobblestone Moss, while Farrow & Ball has Green Smoke and Card Room Green, and Ultramarine Blue and Stiffkey Blue (a navy that we’ve seen used in lots of Victorian terraces).

Should Cheshire homeowners stay neutral or make a statement?

Potential buyers can indeed find bold colours and strong prints a turn-off when viewing a property. 

But to state the obvious, it is your home, so of course, it should reflect your tastes. The great thing about paint is you can paint over it. 

So, if you are going to opt for bold colours, use them on the walls – you can go over them later without too much trouble – but stick to neutral tones for skirting boards and ceilings (which are fiddlier and faffier to reach).

We’re living through strange times. Anything that makes you feel more secure or calm in your home can’t be a bad thing.

From all of us here at Storeys, stay safe and remember better times are coming.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we look at how a simple random act of kindness can start a tsunami of positive vibes.

Many people are going through a dark time right now, but there is a way you could make at least one person’s day a little brighter.

As this week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, why not surprise and delight someone with a small, generous gesture?

It doesn’t have to be a grand affair; even a small effort could leave someone buzzing for the rest of the day.

And don’t forget that kindness is contagious, so your good deed could well inspire the recipient to follow suit with their own act of goodwill – triggering a wave of altruism across Cheshire.

Here are nine things you could do for Random Acts of Kindness Week. 

1) Leave flowers or a box of chocolates on your neighbour’s doorstep (preferably choose a neighbour who lives alone or is having a tough time right now).

2) Sign up to volunteer with a local charity, food bank, or care home.

3) Send a card to someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. Let them know you’re thinking of them.

4) Donate money to a local charity and follow up with an email to the charity’s head thanking them for their contribution to the community.

5) Call a friend who you haven’t spoken to for a while. Let them do the talking while you do the listening.

6) Feeling generous? If you need to catch public transport for work, leave an envelope containing a £5/£10/£20 note on the seat when you leave. Write a short message on the envelope to entice a curious stranger to open it.

7) Surprise your partner by doing a chore around the house that they usually do.

8) Make a home-cooked meal and deliver it to a friend, neighbour or family member who might really appreciate some comfort food.

9) Support a local business by leaving them a glowing review online. Your positive words could help them attract customers and boost their sales during this challenging economic period.

We’ll leave you with this quote from the one and only Jackie Chan (because we all need a little more Jackie Chan in our lives right now): “Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.”

From all of us here at Storeys, stay safe and be kind.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

‘The darkest hour is just before the dawn.’

The quote is attributed to the English theologian Thomas Fuller from 1650.

It could easily be applied now, more than 370 years on.

As the weather turns for the better, the vaccine programme accelerates across the UK, and green shoots of the ‘old normal’ start to spring up, here at Storeys we’re feeling hopeful.

A fascinating article published last week predicted that an economic and cultural boom will start when the lockdowns are lifted, and Covid-19 is made much more manageable.

Will History Repeat Itself?

It happened after the Spanish Flu Epidemic, which ravaged the globe in the early 20th century.

Lasting from February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a third of the world’s population at the time – in four successive waves.

The decade that followed, the Roaring Twenties, was filled with economic prosperity. It saw massive construction projects across Europe and North America. Music and the arts flourished as people celebrated the end of World War One and the defeat of a pandemic.

There’s a sense among many social commentators and historians that we could be entering a new Roaring Twenties as people begin enjoying the freedoms we all took for granted.

Bank of England Optimism

The Bank of England’s Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, said this in a recent BBC interview.

“With 13 million of the most vulnerable people already vaccinated, the risk of death or hospitalisation in the UK has already probably halved.

“By the end of March, based on the current pace of vaccine rollout and government data on vulnerable groups, this risk may have been reduced by as much as three-quarters and by the end of the second quarter it will be even smaller.

“As a result, health concerns will fall, and restrictions will be lifted, allowing people to return to spending and socialising.

“This turn in sentiment is likely to be rapid, like a light switch being flicked rather than a dimmer switch being turned.

“Having been bottled up for a year, most people are desperate to get their lives, including their social lives, back.

“When allowed to do so safely, they will seize it. The economy is like a coiled spring, and when the lockdowns are lifted, it will release pent-up financial energy.”

And Finally

From a property perspective, we feel 2021 will see a lot of activity – especially in Cheshire because it’s an in-demand area and the market here is very durable.

Seeing as we started this article with some ancient wisdom, let’s end it with some equally wise words from a modern author, Charlie Mackesy.

It’s taken from his wonderful book – The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse.

“What’s the best things you’ve learned about storms?” said the boy. “That they end.” said the horse.

Thanks for reading and stay hopeful.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we look at the home renovations that don’t add value – and can make it harder to sell your property.

If there’s a chance you could sell your Cheshire home in the next few years, think before you rush into making any major home renovations.

While you might read about celebrities investing in fancy wine cellars (David Beckham’s building one for his 7,000 bottles of plonk) or bespoke nature ponds (Ed Sheeran’s has a jetty), the reality is that pet projects rarely pay off.

What one enthusiastic home renovator sees as original and bold, could seem dated in a few years’ time.

Of course, your home should reflect who you are – there’s more to life than nondescript neutral palettes.

But there are ways to personalise your property without harming your chances of securing a good selling price further down the track (unless you’re David Beckham or Ed Sheeran and money is no object).

Steer clear of spending big on features or structural changes that the next owner might find difficult or expensive to remove.

Instead, put your stamp on your home through colourful photo galleries, eye-catching artworks and bright feature walls (that you can paint over further down the track).

Common renovation mistakes

1 – Adding a tiny bathroom

An additional bathroom can add real value to a property – but size really does matter. If you need a shoehorn to wiggle your way in and out, it’s more trouble (and money) than it’s worth.

2 – Hot tubs

Hot tubs are the Marmite of the garden world – people either love them or hate them. For some, a hot tub is the height of luxury; for others, it screams ‘wife swap’. It’s a question of personal taste but be aware that would-be buyers might have concerns about costs, upkeep, and nosy neighbours. 

3 – Other outdoor statement pieces

Expensive climbing frames, ornate water features and fountains might be a turn-off as they can be costly and cumbersome to remove.

4 – Bold coloured kitchen cabinets

A fresh and modern kitchen can be a worthwhile investment but be wary of getting carried away with current trends. Install neutral-coloured cabinets as they won’t date as quickly. If you want to make a statement, do so by hanging eye-catching artworks or a bespoke splashback that you can remove at a later date.

5 – Single bedrooms

If you’re tempted to convert a generous bedroom into two smaller rooms, think carefully. Parents of young children may believe that creating two smaller rooms that can accommodate single beds is the perfect antidote to sibling arguments. But potential buyers may find itty-bitty spaces that don’t serve a clear purpose (and are too small for at least a double bed and some storage) off-putting.

If you’d like more advice about selling your Cheshire home, or to tell us your views on hot tubs, get in touch with us here at Storeys.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we share three stories that shine a light on affairs of the heart in the lead up to Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

Lockdown celebrations

One thing star-crossed lovers in Cheshire don’t have to worry about this Valentine’s Day is bagging a reservation at a candle-lit restaurant. 

In “normal times”, even the most mediocre eatery is booked solid on 14 February, but – alas – thanks to lockdown that won’t be the case this year. 

So how can couples celebrate the Feast of St Valentine in style? Diana Wiley, a “marriage therapist and board-certified sex therapist” urges those in relationships to be creative. 

She told NBC that couples should focus on creating their own “bubble of love”. Ways to do this include dressing smartly (no onesies or tracksuit bottoms), buying your beloved a thoughtful gift (lingerie or some luxury bath items perhaps) and don’t obsess over the fact that you can’t go out.

Make 2021 the year you create a new Valentine’s tradition that doesn’t involve overpriced set menus.

The survey says…

Frugal types will be delighted to learn that you don’t have to spend big on your partner this Sunday.

That’s according to relationship coach Louanne Ward, who surveyed couples about their Valentine’s Day likes and dislikes.

Ward, an Australian who runs a matchmaking agency, says 63% of men and women surveyed think heartfelt gestures are more important than expensive gifts. 

So, if you were planning to present your other half with a pricey piece of jewellery or an expensive bottle of booze, think again; a home-cooked meal and a card might suffice.

And if you’re going to show your love with flowers, they don’t have to be red roses (which are usually eye-wateringly expensive on 14 February). The survey found that 80% of women would prefer to receive their favourite flower instead of red roses. The question is: do you know your beloved’s favourite bloom?

Is monogamy for the birds?

When it comes to everlasting love, birds are much more likely than mammals to stick with the same partner for life. Only about 5% of mammal species (excluding humans) are monogamous, compared to 90% of bird species (figures: World Wildlife Foundation). 

You won’t be surprised to learn that lovebirds mate for life. Other loyal species include bald eagles, barn owls, pigeons, vultures, scarlet macaws, flamingos, and mute swans.

(Side note: If a male mute swan dies, his female mate will find a new partner within weeks. However, if a female mute swan dies, the male waits until the following autumn or winter before buddying up with another swan.)

From all of us here at Storeys, thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

A 60-second speed read.

The Beatles were right when they sang ‘money can’t buy me love.’

But money can buy you a gift to give to your significant other. The trouble is not all ‘romantic gifts’ are created equally and received gratefully.

And with Valentine’s Day on Sunday here are seven presents to avoid.

  1. Anything weight-related – Slim-Fast won’t go down too well.
  2. Cheap and not so cheerful flowers. The petrol station posies won’t hit the spot.
  3. Anything DIY related.
  4. A hoover. Seriously? What are you thinking?
  5. Expired gift cards. Result – you’ve found a gift card in the kitchen drawer. But check the date before you pass it off as a gift for your other half.
  6. A massive Teddy bear. This was dubbed the most cliched Valentine gift in a survey by an online dating company.
  7. Nothing – Perhaps the worst thing you could do is to forget Valentine’s Day totally – if you do you may be making an emergency dash to the petrol station. See point 2.

At Storeys we might not be able to help you find true love, but we’re passionate about matching people with properties they adore.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

With Valentine’s Day coming up at the weekend, we look at ten reasons why Cheshire property owners think their homes are dreamy or dreary. A three-minute read.

Top five things people love about their homes

1. A room with a view

Beautiful views are calming, provide distraction, and reduce claustrophobia. Lucky homeowners who look out upon an unspoilt view are also less likely to be overlooked by their neighbours. So, they needn’t worry about Owen from over the road seeing them in their PJs.

2. Period charm

For some, it’s the character of an inglenook fireplace, a warm and comforting Aga, or elegant period features, that they love. Those who prefer these distinctive qualities are more often turned off by the sterility offered by some new and modern homes.       

3. Home is where the heart is

Undoubtedly, for many homeowners, what they love most about their home is not the size, look, or location, but the memories created in them. The children’s heights marked in pencil on the door frame, the old oak tree, climbed a thousand times, even the tiny holes in little Johnny’s bedroom wall from misdirected dart throwing.

4. The house that Jack built

Designing and building a home or extension can be an incredibly exciting (and stressful!) experience. Whether it’s an upstairs laundry room or a dedicated dog shower, homebuilders can create a unique home that they love.

5. Location, location, location

This list wouldn’t be complete without including that well known saying. We feel proud to call Cheshire our home and thousands of Cheshire property owners say that this takes the top spot in things they love about their home!

And five for the haters…

1. Size matters

It would seem that size really does matter when it comes to property owners’ biggest gripes about their homes. What starts out as a perfectly proportioned pad can quickly feel more cramped than cosy once children, pets, or elderly live-in relatives arrive. Add the ‘stuff’ that accumulates over time and the walls can start closing in.    

2. Baby it’s cold inside

Old houses are notorious for being cold and draughty, but the questionable build quality of some newer houses might make you need an extra layer or two. Poor insulation and badly installed double glazing and doors can result in expensive energy bills and an uncomfortable home.

3. Noisy neighbour niggles

It’s Sunday afternoon. Your roast has set you up nicely for an afternoon snooze in front of the telly and the aspiring DJ next door starts spinning the decks. Live and let live? Maybe. But be warned if you’re selling your property and a minor irritation turns into a dispute. If you’ve made a complaint to the council or another authority, or written to the neighbour directly, then you’ll have to disclose it on the Seller’s Property Information Form. 

4. Troublesome traffic

While good double glazing can help reduce traffic noise, it’s often high on the list of grumbles. And for those who own a property opposite a T-junction, let’s just say that they might wish that they’d viewed the property in the dark as well as in daylight… investing in blackout blinds are a must to block car headlights.

5. Garden envy

A lack of outside space is a real bugbear for lots of homeowners. And they’re feeling it now, more so than ever, following the Covid-19 lockdowns. Homes benefiting from a garden will add £££s to the price point (add a few more £££s if it’s south facing).

If the hates start outweighing the loves, it might be time to think about moving on. Make a list of all the things you’re looking for in your next home. At Storeys, we’re here to help you tick off that list and find your next property love.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

The past 12 months have been a Mount Everest like challenge for most of us.

But hope is on the horizon.

Here are seven reasons to stay optimistic in 2021.

  1. The vaccine rollout continues to gather pace and is vaccinating millions.
  2. Several animal species are expected to be saved from extinction.
  3. More governments across the globe are committing to cutting carbon emissions.
  4. Spring is around the corner – Better weather is coming.
  5. The fallout from the pandemic could be that we rebuild our societies in a fairer, more sustainable way.
  6. Sociologists predict that many people will emerge from the lockdown with a kinder, community-minded approach.
  7. After the Spanish Flu pandemic which ravaged the earth from 1918 – 1920 an economic and cultural boom swept Europe and North America. It was dubbed the ’roaring twenties’ and many experts predict we could be in for a similar period more than 100 years on from that decade.

Let’s face it 2021 can’t be anywhere near as bad as 2020.

What are you looking forward to most when our lives return to normal?

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this three-minute read, we look at some of the positive initiatives inspired by Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental health used to be a taboo subject, but thankfully things are changing. 

This week was Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and up and down the country, people found interesting ways to engage with young people about the issue.

The week’s theme was ‘expressing yourself’ and encouraged young people to find ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas through creativity. 

As one in six young people have a diagnosable mental health issue (figures: NHS), we must encourage open and honest discussion.

Here is a rundown for people in Cheshire of some of the ways people shared that message this week.

Lovely Day for fundraising

Super smooth music legend Billy Ocean and Youth Voices (YV) – the world’s largest school choir – released a cover version of Bill Withers’ classic tune Lovely Day

Profits from sales of the single will go to Place2Be, a brilliant mental health charity that provides counselling services in 600 schools across the UK.

Expect to hear more from YV and Mr Ocean later in the year when they attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous sing-along (multi-venues).

The current record was set by YV in 2005 when 293,978 singers at 1,616 venues sang Lean On Me.

YV hopes to smash this record on 15 June in a mass sing-along streamed live from the O2 Arena in London.

Meditation and movement

Schools across the UK marked Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in all sorts of ways. 

Pupils at Norbridge School in Worksop, Surrey, enjoyed guided meditation, while youngsters at Gwenfo CW Primary School in the Vale of Glamorgan took pleasure in walking and climbing in the great outdoors. 

Meanwhile, in Inverness, a new service launched called Mikeysline. It provides support to secondary school pupils who are struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings.

Olympic effort

Two sporty brothers, who recognise the vital role physical activity plays in warding off depression and anxiety, hosted their own Virtual Olympics this week.

Ottavio and Dario Tanzillo, competitive swimmers who work at a Northampton primary school, hosted a Virtual Olympics on their YouTube channel Tanzii TV this week.

In a series of light-hearted videos, the brothers, clad in superhero costumes and onesies, demonstrated boxing, hurdling, and fencing. 

They aimed to get kids – many of whom have become more sedentary during lockdown – up and moving.

Scientists have long recognised the link between a healthy body and a healthy mind, and say regular exercise increases self-esteem, reduces stress, and improves concentration.

And finally

A quick book recommendation. If you’d like to learn more about young people and mental health, get your hands on a copy of Take My Hand by Pat Sowa. Pat is a former headteacher and campaigner whose son Dom battled mental ill-health. You can also follow her on Twitter (@pat_sowa).

Visit www.place2be.org.uk to donate to Place2Be.

From all of us here at Storey, thanks for reading. Stay safe and take care.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys