A James Bond-style home with a hidden bed that pops out with just the press of a button may sound like a gimmick, but it could prove to be a shrewd investment.
Estate agents believe adopting such ‘wow-factor’ ideas will not only make your home easier to sell, but help create new options for ‘dead space’ that can add as much as 5 per cent to a property’s value. With the average house price now £317,000, this means putting an extra £15,000 on its value.
Stephen White invested £6,000 to have a bespoke foldaway bed installed in his one-bedroom apartment in Bermondsey, South-East London, two years ago. He believes the installation has more than recouped the cost in added worth to his home.
Comfortable: Stephen White paid £6,000 for a hideaway bed
The 35-year-old says: ‘It was not just about buying a bed but making the most of my space. Visitors do not believe there is room for a bed secretly tucked away behind a bespoke fitted bookshelf that is part of the unit – until I press my remote control.’
Banker Stephen was initially put off buying a traditional fold-up bed that fits vertically into a wall – feeling it might have ‘looked a bit seedy’. But The Concealed Bed Company that installed his uses technology with a motor that rolls the mattress and bed frame within a 2ft deep space up a wall.
Kim Stewart, the firm’s managing director, says: ‘People are often baffled at how we can fit a full bed into such a small space.
‘They say the bed looks like some James Bond gadget because it transforms the room within 30 seconds. One customer even had the secret agent theme tune to play out when using it.’
Although the bed is one of the biggest space-saving options, high-tech gadgets such as a TV can also be hidden or transformed with new innovations.
Press the button: The hidden bed in the Bond film You Only Live Twice
Specialists such as Hide My TV in Barnet, Hertfordshire, can hide flat-screen TVs at the press of a button behind mantelpieces, inside blanket boxes at the bottom of beds and hidden alcoves.
They can also be transformed into framed mirrors or flipped over to reveal a favourite oil painting. Prices for such gadgetry start from £1,200 but bespoke transformations might cost £10,000.
Eva Davies, owner of Hide My TV, says: ‘You can transform a room creating a totally different atmosphere by making the TV vanish as if by magic – or suddenly turning it into a mirror or painting. The idea is to enhance the appeal of a room. Choosing to have the TV on show or not makes it multi-functional.’
Claire Basing Lawson, of national estate agent Savills, believes a great place to start your futuristic makeover is to go hunting under the stairs, often an area used for storing items such as a vacuum cleaner.
She says: ‘The secret is to make the most of all your space – making it multi-functional to add value. That cupboard under the stairs can be turned into anything from a small office to a wine cellar to give the home a luxury feel – and a hidden wow-factor.’
Bespoke cocktail cabinets cost from £2,000
She points out that sought-after property in Central London can be worth up to £800 a square foot – so it is vital to maximise every spare corner.
Top quality temperature-controlled wine storage cabinets may cost £1,000 but if you really want to live the 007 dream, a cocktail cabinet for storing those shaken-not-stirred martinis is essential. Bespoke units cost from £2,000.
Even cavity spaces inside walls can be utilised – with security measures such as hidden safes installed.
The classic movie idea of having a wall safe tucked behind a painting can cost from £500 but another option might be to replace an electric plug socket with a fake front – that contains a hidden vault for valuables such as jewellery, money and important documents. Such double plug wall safes can cost £40 and are easy to fit yourself.
… but beware of the ‘storage scammers’
Other ways to make space
There is no substitute for going through cupboards and wardrobes looking at never used items one-by-one and then getting rid of them. Chances are that if you have not used something in a year, it is time to let it go. The average home hoards £1,200 of this clutter.
TURN TRASH INTO TREASURE
Auction websites such as eBay offer an ideal place to offload your junk for money. You can list 20 items for free each month on eBay – with the trader taking a 10 per cent cut of what you sell, including the cost of postage. Be honest with descriptions and provide lots of photos. Also consider donating unwanted items to charity or pitching up at a local car boot sale to try your luck.
If you cannot bear to throw out or sell your junk, self-storage might be the solution. Websites such as Storenextdoor and Storemates find neighbours with spare space inside their home or garage. Expect to pay £30 a week for a 150 sq ft garage space. The price should include insurance against loss or any damage to valuables. Also consider using specialists with 24-hour surveyed security units, such as Big Yellow, Safestore and Lok’nStore.
Scammers have cheated people out of at least £100million in recent years through so-called ‘storage pod’ investment schemes.
These cold-calling fraudsters lure savers in by promising returns of up to 12 per cent a year through rental yields if you buy into their storage facilities.
But after investing, some salesmen have simply pocketed the cash and then disappeared.
In the past six years, more than 1,000 people have fallen victim to such scams, with some losing more than £50,000.
Such investment schemes are unregulated and not policed by the Financial Conduct Authority.
It means that if things go wrong investors have little protection and cannot seek redress from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
In May, the Insolvency Service filed a petition to the High Court to wind up businesses of the Lancashire-based Store First.
The ex-Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson had helped promote this self-storage firm and was an investor – though he has since severed all ties with it.
Those fearing they have been a victim of storage fraud – or are concerned about being duped by fraudsters –should contact the Serious Fraud Office on 020 7239 7272 or sfo.gov.uk.