Welcome back to What I Rent, our weekly series that sees how people turn rented flats and houses into homes.
Last week, we were in St Pauls, Bristol, with Laura, who pays £900 a month for her two-bed property.
This time we having a nose around a two-bedroom house in Chatham, Kent, rented by Flo, 30, and her husband Oli.
Flo is a jewellery production manager originally from Canterbury, who transferred from London to Kent six years ago.
Oli worked as an events photographer before Covid, and is now delivering pizzas.
They rented this property in part because it’s an equal distance between Flo’s family in Canterbury and Oli’s in London.
Here’s how the couple have made the space their own.
Hi, Flo! How much do you pay to live here?
Our rent is £795 and we spend about £260 a month on bills.
And what do you get for what you pay?
We have two bedrooms and one bathroom, a living room, separate dining room, kitchen, basement and attic storage space and a garage/shed.
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Do you feel like you have a good deal?
We think so. For the amount of space the rent is cheaper than other places around but that’s probably because people aren’t keen on the area.
What do you think of the area?
We’re in Chatham Kent. I wouldn’t say it’s anything to write home about, but the location is ideal for my work and proximity to family.
The specific part of Chatham we’re in has a bad reputation and lots of people warned us against it but after living in Tottenham for a few years we weren’t worried!
We’ve never felt unsafe and all of our neighbours are really friendly.
How did you find this property?
We were searching online for houses in the area and were really keen on this one because of all of the built-in storage and space for my husband’s photography work.
How have you made this place feel like home?
I started decorating and documenting on Instagram during the first lockdown, when we found ourselves stuck indoors with lots of time on our hands.
The house is full of gorgeous features that our landlord built himself – he’s a carpenter so added lots of built-in wooden storage and hand-built lattice shutters.
We loved all of the work he’d done but I just really hated being surrounded by so much brown! Colour has always been really important to me in how I dress and how I decorate, so I knew I wanted to brighten things up.
I’ve used adhesive vinyl to collage the kitchen cupboards and bedroom drawers. I also use a lot of masking tape in my decorating and have used it in place of wallpaper to create feature walls.
I’m really keen on fun and colourful prints and gallery walls, which I love fiddling with and rearranging.
I enjoy upcycling furniture too – we buy most of our from charity shops and I paint it in fun colours. I even spray painted out Christmas tree last year.
Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?
I always ensure all of my decorating is renter-friendly and fully reversible. The vinyl is specifically designed to be removed when necessary and the tape will easily peel off of wood with no problems.
When it comes to removing the tape from painted surfaces, I’ll spray with water to reactivate any dried adhesive and that should come off with no trouble too.
Once I take down the prints I’ll need to fill in the holes and buy some colour-matched paint to touch up the green walls.
Our landlord made it clear that it’s our space to decorate as we choose as long as we return it to factory settings before we leave. From the raised eyebrows and comments I can gather he’s not keen on my style – he’s much more into his wooden features, I think.
I really enjoy the challenge of finding non-permanent ways to add colour to our home. It keeps me creative and means I can change up and rework things easily, which really suits my indecisive nature.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Yes, definitely. The extra basement and working space was invaluable during lockdown.
We were in a teeny flat before and I don’t think we would have coped!
Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?
We’ve mostly been fine. Repairs do get done as necessary but we’re getting to the point where we’d be happy to deal with paying for the repairs if we could have control over the time frames they get completed in.
We recently went for four days without a flushing toilet while we waited for our landlord to arrange the repairs. I was 11 weeks pregnant at the time and throwing up multiple times a day, so it definitely wasn’t ideal!
Do you have plans to move again any time soon?
We’ve been lucky enough to have our mortgage approved on a flat in the next town along and we’ll hopefully be moving in before Christmas. Our baby is due in February so we’re keen to move before then.
Do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?
We’ve gone for shared ownership at the new flat, so it’s kind of a stepping stone between renting and buying.
It’s not perfect but it fits what we can afford, is a great location and hopefully brings us closer to our goal of owning somewhere outright one day.
I’m looking forward to being able to decorate in a more permanent way, too!
Shall we have a look around?
What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am.
Check back next week to have another nose around a rented property.
How to get involved in What I Rent
What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.
If you fancy taking part, please email [email protected] You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.
Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.
We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).
This article contains placements with affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links on these placements.
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