I am so excited that todays blog post is in collaboration with Berkeley Group. As you know I am a huge fan of everything homes. I love renovating, decorating and obsessing over every aspect of homes. I’ve stopped buying Vogue and started buying Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens and even Homebuilding & Renovating magazine! When I got the call inviting me to visit Berkeley Group’s latest development down the road from me in Cranleigh, Surrey I squealed with delight. Did you know Cranleigh is Britain’s largest village? (I didn’t until a cute sign told me so when entering the village). It’s a forty minute drive from Gatwick Airport with easy access to London and the south coast. I know Cranleigh fairly well as my husbands family are from near there, my brother went to college in the next big town along, Guildford, and most importantly (in my opinion) it’s down the road from Bramley where my husband and I got married.
(This is us outside of the Leighwood Fields house that we visited)
The development we went to visit is called Leighwood Fields and is a beautiful location filled with 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroom houses. Houses (prices) start from £675,000 for a four bedroom house. All of which you can walk to the village high street from. I went along with my mummy-head on to see how suitable the development and area are for a young family. We viewed the three story, four bedroom town house that boasted a lovely sunny garden and huge garage. Have a look at our little video on my Instagram page here. We showed Albie around it and as you can see in the video he loved it. The beaming grin on his face shows that it had his seal of approval. We had to prise away the cuddly toys from the kids bedroom before we left.
Below are my five top tips for things to look for when choosing your family home (well…any home really, but you may see a little family approach on some of the tips). Finding a home is tricky, especially lately. Prices are high but houses also get snapped up seriously quickly so you really need to know what you want and to be ready and raring to go with your offer. Let’s take a look at these top five criteria to help you choose your dream location.
1.LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
Location is key! Location requirements for everyone is always going to be a little bit different. If you are looking to start a family or have toddlers you should ideally start researching schools and catchment areas. We didn’t do that before moving and now we are frustratingly just outside of our dream school catchment area. Cranleigh is a great area with school catchments in mind with Cranleigh Nursery School and Cranleigh C of E Primary School nearby. My friend that lives in Cranleigh often takes her kids to Cranleigh Leisure Centre which is soon to be redeveloped into a state of the art centre.
Being close to your work is also going to be a key search criteria for you. Can you get a bus or train to town? Can you drive or walk to childcare on your way to work? For me personally I have to be close to my parents. I heavily rely on them for childcare when last minute jobs crop up and I can’t be travelling an hour away to them before a job. Luckily for me my parents have just moved back to Surrey from their stint in Wales.
2. STORAGE SPACE
Our last home which was a maisonette in Thames Ditton didn’t have a single cupboard. Not one! We had nowhere to store anything. We were blessed with a garage which we utilised to the maximum but on cleaning day we had to go and get the hoover from the garage, which in reality meant hoovering was rarely done. I can’t imagine our life at our old home with our toddler in tow. Babies come with a lot of “things”. I naively thought, well, they’re small how will they take up much space? Moses basket, cot, changing table, rocker, pram, high chair etc etc etc. These things take up space. Then you get to the stage when they start outgrowing things but you want to keep hold of it just incase you have another child. We are absolutely filled to the brim in the eaves cupboards in the loft, bouncers, playpens, ball pits, outgrown clothing, you name it, it’s up in my loft. I had a strong case of jealousy whilst looking around this house in Leighwoods Field. There were two under stairs cupboards!!!
I often aspire to open plan living. The spaciousness and that light and airy feeling. Since having a baby I have realised that’s just not a viable way of living anymore. If you have experienced sleeplessness and fear of waking the baby then you definitely don’t want your living room or kitchen near their bedroom and doors are a fabulous thing to have to help shut out noise. You may have noticed that in my Instagram reel we spend a lot of our time playing hide and seek in the many ample cupboards in the Leighwood Fields house.
Also, along the same lines as the above storage possibilities, I really really really would love to have a playroom in my house…one day…although maybe not realistically until Albie is old enough to not need one anymore. For the time being I personally use large and attractive storage bags from H&M Home which match my decor really well.
4. RUN AROUND SPOTS
Having a good sized garden can be premium and not everyone will be blessed with one yet my oh my gardens are a blessing, especially with my child. One of Albie’s first words was “dig”. All day everyday he wants to be outside digging in the mud. I can’t wait until the Summer when I also want to be outside all day. The house we went to visit in Cranleigh had huge doors out of the living room where you could see the garden. I wish I could have that. I have to be outside with Albie is I want to see him as our back door opens to the side. If you haven’t got a garden it’s great if you can be close to playgrounds, parks and fields. Do you remember the days of playing curbie? My grandparents used to live in a very quiet road where we would all play curbie for hours on end. The Leighwood Fields development will on completion feature a village green and already has multiple natural play areas.
5. THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Since becoming a mummy I have walked more than I have ever walked. Especially in those first nine or so months. I would walk Albie in the pram for hours on end everyday to meet friends for a tea or to escape the building works we were having done at the time and most regularly to try and get my child to nap. If you can walk straight from your house to somewhere lovely that is a fabulous thing to be able to do. My parents used to live in Wales and when we went to visit their divine house we couldn’t just walk off somewhere with the pram, we had to fold up the pram and get Albie in the carseat with such a battle. Then drive off somewhere and offload the other end. It seems like a small thing but it didn’t feel like it at the time.
To have cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants in walking distance is such a dreamy thing. That being said, having a really friendly neighbourhood is also paramount. In Surrey we are surrounded by Royal Parks, Historic Royal Palaces, RHS and National Trust. It seems like every Surrey family I know has memberships to at least one of the above. A little extra tip is if you have a NT membership and are off on a long car journey make sure you pinpoint ahead of time where there are NT spots along the way. You can see gorgeous new sights, have a run around, stretch your legs and eat better food than you would at a service station.
I hope you’ve liked my top five tips. What do you look for in a dream property? Have you ever been to Cranleigh before? I’d definitely recommend swinging buy to view some houses then have a little coffee/cocktail at Surrey’s Gin & Tea Bar.