A crafty purchase: Resurgence of hobbies such as sewing and woodwork has led to huge demand for homes with extra rooms or outbuildings
- Creative hobbies such as knitting and woodwork were popular during lockdowns
- Home buyers are now looking for extra space to pursue their passions
- Agents say houses with outbuildings and studios are increasingly sought after
Cross-stitch, mosaic-making, knitting, painting. They all had a whiff of nostalgia about them before the pandemic, but now they’re making a spectacular comeback and changing our homes in the process.
Statistics show how many of these old favourites are back in fashion again.
During the first covid lockdown in spring 2020 the Hobbycraft company – which sells more than 25,000 arts and crafts products – reported that easy-to-learn home activities such as tie-dye and painting by numbers showed huge increases.
During the first covid lockdown in spring 2020 the Hobbycraft company reported that easy-to-learn home activities such as tie-dye and painting by numbers showed huge increases
But by the third lockdown in late 2021 the British public were into more challenging crafts, with online searches on the company’s website increasing by more than 700 per cent for macrame, crochet, sewing, embroidery and clay modelling.
‘Customers have grown in confidence with the projects they are taking on,’ says Katherine Paterson, customer director at Hobbycraft.
‘It is traditional and more technical crafts that have been the most popular. We anticipate the demand for craft will continue as customers understand the benefits of taking time out and find new opportunities to craft.’
This crafty resurgence coincided with the so-called ‘race for space’ in the housing market, as demand for larger homes increased, with rooms or outbuildings for work and hobbies, including woodwork, pictured, at the top of many buyers’ wish lists.
Manufacturers have reported particular demand for insulated garden buildings capable of being used year-round, with many companies saying their product ranges have increased to include more premium materials, plus energy-efficient ways of heating these buildings.
Add to all of this an explosion of TV craft shows from The Great Pottery Throw Down to Kirstie’s Celebrity Craft Masters and having space for a hobby is now high on the house hunter’s agenda.
‘I’m receiving many more enquires looking for space — a garden pod or outbuilding,’ says Ed Jephson, of buying agency Stacks Property Search.
‘I’ve just secured a house on Dartmoor for a successful artist who is giving up his London studio in Hackney. We’ve found him a wonderful home with a garden studio.’
Swanky sheds: Manufacturers have reported particular demand for insulated garden buildings capable of being used year-round
Rightmove says the trend towards bigger houses is here to stay and by the end of 2021 the typical asking price for a detached house was 76 per cent higher than for a semi-detached — a record price gap.
In addition to crafts, the perennial favourites of kit-making, model railways and Scalextric have enjoyed a new lease of life because of the pandemic.
‘Older home owners who perhaps as children had these hobbies have returned to them in later life and are taking them more seriously and requiring more space,’ says Hornby’s product development director Simon Kohler.
There are celebrity endorsements for this. Rod Stewart has long been known as a model railway buff while music maestro Jools Holland has a 100 ft-long train layout in his attic.
Property experts anticipate that other factors will continue to keep people focused on their homes.
‘As the cost of living grows and going out becomes more expensive, people will spend more time on their homes.
I expect more attention on kitchens for cooking at home, and demand for workrooms to pursue hobbies,’ says Michael Spackton, a buying agent acting in the Home Counties.
This summer’s Jubilee celebrations are set to be another fillip for crafters. Needlework suppliers report surging online searches for sewing machine, fabric and thread as people look to create bunting and flags, for an estimated two million street parties to be held on the June Bank Holiday weekend.
So for house hunters, it’s no longer just school catchment areas, commuter belts and proximity to Waitrose that counts — it’s space for all these pastimes, too. Now, where did I put my knitting needles?
On the market… with added space