Thursday, 17 May 2018

Throwback Thursday: What were new homes like in 1998?

Larkfleet Homes Throwback Thursday
Twenty years ago, the World Wide Web was still only seven years old, Google had just launched, and mobile phones still resembled bricks - and we used them to make calls. The average house price in the UK was £75,806 and annual inflation stood at 3.4 per cent.

In 1998 just nine per cent of households had internet access, compared with over 90 per cent in 2018. Just 20 per cent of households owned at least one mobile phone and there were around eight million subscribers. That figure is now greater than 95 per cent with around 90 million subscribers.

In the 1990s we were in love with quirky furniture like Japanese futons and inflatable armchairs from the US. Kitchens tended to be orange coloured pine with granite tops and walls were stencilled. Bathrooms often featured a corner bath, bedrooms featured floor to ceiling mirrors and bold floral patterns were everywhere.

The 1990s saw a range of colours from aqua marine, peach, lemon yellow and camo colours, reflecting the grunge and graffiti zeitgeist and the calming nature of zen as well-being began to increase in importance in people’s lives.

As Sunday trading laws relaxed in the 1990s and out of town shopping centres sprang up, DIY boomed. People spent more time and money on home improvement.

Our outdoor living spaces became more important to us in the 1990s. TV programmes like Changing Rooms and Ground Force became so popular that B&Q’s sales of decking increased from 5,000 to 16 million units by the end of the 1990s.

Home tech such as microwaves, DVDs and CD players increased. Computer games consoles from Sega, Sony and Nintendo were becoming ubiquitous. Apple launched the iMac in 1998 but Windows from Microsoft still dominated the burgeoning home computing market.

On the drive, cars included the Ford Fiesta, Ford Mondeo, Vectra, Astra Corsa and car of the year the Ford Focus. Peugeot launched the 206 and in the affordable luxury/executive car bracket Jaguar launched its new S-type, designed to compete with the ever-popular BMW 5 Series. Audi launched its TT coupe and roadster models while Volkswagen unveiled a new VW Golf-based version of its Beetle – still popular 20 years on.

Popular culture in the 1990s was as eclectic as ever and heavily influenced by the US. In music 1998 was the year Robbie Williams was entertaining you, Fresh Prince was getting Jiggy wit’ it and Celine Dion’s heart went on, and on and on…

On TV young adults (and some older ones) were enjoying South Park and Buffy the Vampire Slayer while children’s favourite The Wombles made a comeback. Comedy classic The Royle family debuted while soaps introduced storylines which began to challenge society rather than simply entertain. Coronation Street introduced the first transsexual character in a British soap while EastEnders’ memorable Mark Fowler HIV storyline ran on. If that wasn’t depressing enough we also watched England crash out of another World Cup Final at France ’98.

Much of what began in the late 1990s remains today in more sophisticated forms. The 1990s set the basis for what we see today in modern homes. Broadband has replaced internet dial-up in our homes. TV is on-demand and Virtual Reality assistants like Siri and Cortana help us to shop and fill our fridges and cupboards with groceries. In fact, most of us do the bulk of our shopping online now.

New homes, which began to be built in more sustainable ways in 1998, now often feature solar panels - a standard feature of new Larkfleet and Allison homes - and other energy saving features include ground and air source heat pumps.

Hybrid and electric cars such as the Toyota Prius or Tesla are likely to be seen on our driveways as electric charging points are fitted in integrated garages.

All in all, we have come a long way in 20 years – although we need to slow down and look around to realise it.

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