More than four in ten British homeowners transformed their spare bedrooms into offices, gyms, cinemas and more throughout the pandemic. Here’s what they did.

Nearly 9 million bedrooms were lost to home offices, gyms, cinemas and even bars during the pandemic, as the UK adapted to the new normal.

How have our homes changed?

We surveyed homeowners across the UK to understand how the nation’s room requirements shifted – and how our homes changed as a result.

Among those who changed their homes, more than half (53%) said they completely repurposed at least one bedroom, while one in five households (22%) said they changed multiple bedrooms.

Nationally, this equates to a whopping 8,856,000 bedrooms that have been ‘lost’ amongst the UK’s 24m privately owned homes during the pandemic.

With remote and hybrid working now set to be a mainstay for many, almost half (46%) of those who have made changes have created a home office.

That means more than 4.5m new home offices have emerged across the UK. And over half of homeowners (58%) say they plan to permanently keep them.

Alongside home offices, there are plenty of other ways Brits have reincarnated rooms in their homes since March 2020. Across the UK:

  • 1.3m home gyms have been created
  • 984,000 home bars
  • 900,000 home cinemas or music rooms
  • 688,800 dedicated classrooms

The cost of reincarnation

Repurposing entire rooms doesn’t come cheap.

Our research shows that UK homeowners who adapted their homes spent an average of £3,714, with home offices costing on average £1,735, gyms £1,568 and home cinemas £3,841.

Nationally, this is a total of £36.5 billion.

Home offices: who should pay for them?

Home offices in particular have been one of the more contentious room changes, with many being forced to give up living space in order to simply carry out their jobs.

In fact, 16% of homeowners who created one say they resent giving up space in their home for the benefit of their employer.

Nearly seven in ten (67%) believe that employers should pay all or some of the cost of setting up a home office, with 12% thinking that they should even offer compensation for the space lost.

However, the reality is that just 2% of those who set up home offices say that their employer offered compensation, and only 30% say they made any contributions towards costs at all.

Just 10% covered the full costs.

An unhappy compromise?

For those who have had to repurpose rooms, more than half (55%) say this has meant they have had to compromise on their space at home, leaving homeowners less happy with the space they have.

Amongst those who have, 28% say they now have less space for guests to stay, 21% say they have less or no privacy and 11% state that their children now have to share a bedroom.

However, this feeling of not being completely happy with your home rises significantly amongst younger homeowners, who are likely to have smaller properties.

More than eight in ten (83%) homeowners under 25 say they are currently having to compromise with their living spaces.

For many, having to change their home setup during the pandemic has highlighted the need to find somewhere new and better suited to their changed needs.

Of homeowners who have made changes, nearly a third (32%) say that this has made them consider moving home.

Nick Neill, Managing Director at EweMove Sales & Lettings says: ‘Although many believe that their employer should contribute to the cost of setting up a home office, it’s important to consider other factors, such as reduced commuter costs and the ability to use the time spent commuting on personal endeavours, such as benefitting from a converted gym.

‘The rise of open plan living also means that it can be tricky to find space to set up a home office, but it really does present a more flexible property for buyers to consider purchasing if you do decide to sell in the future.

‘It’s also worth considering a garden office – which could be anything from a glorified shed to a swanky purpose-built luxury cabin.

‘Not only can it enable a better work/life balance and space to work outside of the family home, but it will definitely add value to your property and not take it away, which could be the case if you convert a bedroom.’

Key takeaways

  • During the pandemic, 41% of British homeowners adapted their home to suit their changing needs, sacrificing around 8.8m bedrooms in the process
  • In their place nearly five million new home offices have been created, alongside over one million home gyms
  • The average household spent £3,714 adapting their home during the pandemic – that’s a national total of approximately £36.5 billion
  • Nearly 7 in 10 think employers should contribute to the cost of home offices, but only 30% have