Fifty years of the British home laid bare - From the Swinging Sixties to the Twenty-Tens

8th October 2015

It may have been the Swinging Sixties but a new survey reveals we much prefer the way we live now. The evolution of the British home is laid bare in a fascinating new study that highlights changing tastes and technology over the past five decades.

Where once pebble dashing, crazy paving and coloured bathroom suites were regarded as the height of sophistication, they now top the list of the home improvements we loathe the most.

Today’s property owners want a state-of-the-art entertainment zone (44%), a wet room (43%), and home improvements such as bi-fold doors and conservatories that improve the indoor/outdoor flow, ‘bringing the outside in’ (58%).

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Surprisingly the results showed that a separate dining room is high on the wish list for more than half of us (56%), contrasted with open plan kitchen/diner living spaces which are less desirable (39%). Installing underfloor heating (35%) and brightening up our homes by adding a conservatory or orangery (31%) were voted some of the most sought-after home improvements of today.

The survey of over 2,000 homeowners, commissioned by Anglian Home Improvements, looked at how our tastes in home improvements and the way in which we use our homes have changed over the past 50 years.

Although technological advances in home appliances, telecommunications and IT have made a significant change to the way we live, the majority of respondents ranked central heating as the most positive change to the home over the last 50 years (70%). This was followed by indoor toilets (51%) running hot water (43%) and better insulated windows (41%), demonstrating that warmth and comfort are still top of our priority list.

The results show that almost three out of ten (29%) respondents believe the sharing of household tasks between men and women has been the most significant social change that has influenced how we use our homes over the last half century. Almost of quarter of respondents (24%) said the ability to work from home due to technological advances had also had a significant influence on the way we use our homes.

Whereas respondents said the cooking space (30%) and washing areas (27%) were the key areas of attention when it came to home improvements 50 years ago, homeowners in 2015 are focused primarily on improving their entertaining space (26%), following by areas for cooking (25%) and relaxing (17%). This would suggest that the role of the home has evolved from a shelter to fulfil basic needs to a multi-functional leisure space.

The main reason cited for why people make improvements to their homes was adding monetary value (47%), while three out of ten (30%) said it was to save costs and a similar number (28%) said it worked out as being more cost effective than moving house.

Looking to the future, respondents predict that homes will become smarter thanks to further technological advances (50%), as well as becoming more energy efficient (30%). Robot cleaners, fridges that automatically do the weekly food shop, self-cleaning glass and walls designed to conserve energy were listed among the innovations predicted to become popular within the home over the next 50 years.

Melanie McDonald, Head of PR & Brand Marketing at Anglian Home Improvements, said, “We commissioned this survey as Anglian Home Improvements heads into its 50th anniversary year to reflect the many changes we’ve seen and heard of anecdotally over that time. It is interesting to observe just how much our tastes and preferences have changed in a relatively short amount of time. One thing is for sure – the desire to improve our homes has increased over the years as homeowners seek to make their homes warmer, more comfortable and more energy efficient.”


Notes to editors

Top 10 most loved improvements

  1. Indoor-outdoor flow (58%)
  2. Separate dining room (56%)
  3. TV/music/cinema room (44%)
  4. Wet room (43%)
  5. Decking (40%)
  6. Dressing room (39%) and open plan living (39%)
  7. Gym/exercise area (25%)
  8. Coloured bathroom suite (20%)
  9. Crazy paving (15%)

Top 10 most loathed home improvements

  1. Pebble dashing (52%)
  2. Crazy paving (43%)
  3. Coloured bathroom suites (42%)
  4. Gym/exercise area (26%)
  5. Decking (23%)
  6. Open plan living (22%)
  7. Wet room (16%)
  8. TV/music/cinema room (14%)
  9. Dressing room (11%)
  10. Indoor/outdoor flow (7%) and separate dining room (7%)

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