Divorce Week sees a spike in enquiries for Property-Dressing Firm

Elaine Penhaul, Director of Lemon & Lime Interiors

A property-dressing firm says they have seen an increase in enquiries from couples going through a break-up, in Divorce Week.

Bosses at Lemon & Lime Interiors, based in Melbourne, Derbyshire, say they traditionally see a rise in people wanting help to dress their homes for sale in January and February.

From March to December, around 25 per cent of their business is sprucing up properties in divorce estates.

But this rises to more than a third – 35 per cent in January and February.

The week commencing January 8 has been labelled Divorce Day by UK lawyers – the first working day of January after the festive period is a dark time for love, with couples breaking up over the stress of creating the perfect Christmas and post-festive money woes.

Lemon & Lime Interiors, ran by Elaine Penhaul, certainly sees a spike in business from relationship breakdowns around this time.

Elaine said: “A big chunk of our market has always been divorce estates – people are splitting up and naturally want to maximise the investment that they are taking out of their joint property.

“It’s really important that you get as much as you can for the property so both partners can afford to set up new homes individually.”

Elaine recalls some cases where warring couples have played dirty in dividing up their possessions.

“In one case the wife had literally waltzed off with half of everything – where they had two bedside tables, she took one of the set; where they had matching lamps, she took one of the set, she took one of the matching armchairs and half of the dining chairs.

“So of course, you can’t leave a house presented like that.”

She added: “There is an increase in inquiries. We don’t always know they are divorcing estates until we actually get them, because people are very cagey when they talk about it.

“Understandably, people don’t want anyone to know they are putting the house on the market as a result of a divorce. They want it to look like a lovely family home.”

Elaine would even go as far as saying she can tell which houses on the Rightmove website are going through a divorce, if the owners haven’t thought about the presentation of the home before bringing it to market – she even correctly predicted the break-up of a famous footballer’s marriage after looking at pictures of his house for sale online.

Revealing the tell-tale signs, she said: “Obviously they are a little bit emptier than normal.

“Often they will look not quite like a home. Sometimes there are things missing, because usually one partner has moved out and has taken some possessions with them, or there is a mis-match of styles if new furniture has been brought in.”

She said her company gets caught in the cross-fire less than with proceedings of deceased estates, for instance with siblings fighting over possessions, as it tends to be one partner taking responsibility for the sale of the house.

But it’s not all heartbreak – Lemon & Lime Interiors were once contacted by a couple who had done a self-build and decided to divorce at the end of it, because the whole process had been so stressful.

But, after Lemon and Lime had worked their magic, the couple decided not to divorce or sell the house.

Support service Amicable says that more than 40,500 people will search “divorce” online in January, which is nearly 25 per cent higher than at any other time of the year.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 8.4 divorces of opposite-sex couples per 1,000 married men and women in 2017, representing the lowest rates since 1972 and a 5.6 per cent decrease since 2016.

But experts said this could be down to the fact that fewer couples are choosing to get married.

Lemon & Lime Interiors provides professional property presentation, with a bespoke service covering everything from decluttering a lived-in home to fully furnishing an empty property.

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