I Redecorated My £800 Per Month Rented Three-Bedroom House In Birmingham – Here's What It Looks Like
I'm Medina and I'm an interiors and DIY blogger. Up until about three weeks ago I was also a part-time nurse (and before that a midwife) in the NHS, but I’ve since put a pause on that indefinitely to pursue my creative career full-time. I live in a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Birmingham with my husband, 6-year-old son and our two cats.
What surprises most people about me is that I rent, and have done for a while. Having decorated the space in quite a distinct style and being an interiors blogger, this often comes as a shock. I guess it goes against that British expectation that you need to get on the property ladder and have your own place to be happy. I always knew we wanted to make the space our own and thankfully our landlord has been brilliant, always easy to communicate with and allowing us to do almost everything we wanted to the flat. We pay £800 a month, which seems reasonable all things considered; I know that would be much higher if we lived in London, where I'm originally from (Croydon to be exact). I grew up in the Middle East from the age of 9 as an expat because of my father's job; when I came back to the UK at 17 we moved to Birmingham and I've stayed ever since!
We rent and have done for a while – this often comes as a shock to many people as we've done a lot to the space and it's decorated in quite a distinct style.
People used to constantly ask me when I was going to buy my own home. I used to say we were saving for our deposit, "so hopefully soon!" But the reality is that having a child can be expensive, there's always a million bills to pay and sometimes saving feels like the last thing you can do – let alone what you want to do – with any spare cash. I've tried to make peace with the fact that I rent; I think I used to feel embarrassed that I am an interiors blogger who doesn't own their own home. There's so much pressure to get on the property ladder from so many sources: family, the media, friends and just that British mentality in general. It's great if you can afford to do it but it's certainly not everything, and that's why I've dedicated so much time and passion to our current home.
We have lived in this property for just over three years, which is the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere together. My husband and I often joke that a traveller way of life would have suited us just fine. As it stands we have moved seven times during nine years of marriage – only slowing down in the last few years because of the birth of our son. When he was born we promised ourselves we would be much more responsible adults and finally settle down. Spoiler: we slightly broke that promise, but through no fault of our own...
The reality is that having a child can be expensive, there's always a million bills to pay and sometimes saving feels like the last thing you can do – let alone what you want to do – with any spare cash.
My husband and I married fairly young (I was 21 and he was 20, both fresh out of university) and our first home was a house that had been very poorly converted into two-bedroom flats. We lived on the ground floor but weren’t there for very long because the landlord seemed to think it was okay to enter our home to collect his mail whenever he felt like it. The next home we rented was infested with mice, which we failed to pick up on at the viewing. The constant scratching in the skirting boards three days after we moved in kind of gave it away, though... Despite copious attempts, we just couldn't get rid of them so as soon as our six-month lease was up, we were out of there!
After that we rented a studio flat, at about the same time I chose to go back to university to study midwifery. We found out I was pregnant pretty early in our tenancy and decided it would be a good idea to rent somewhere a little bigger before the baby arrived. Good thing we did, because children come with so many accessories and gadgets, there wouldn’t have been anywhere to walk, let alone breathe had we stayed!
Not that the two-bedroom flat we rented next was much bigger – it had an extra bedroom though and that extra space was a godsend. Unfortunately the flat wasn’t meant to be and we were never able to build the kind of rapport we were after with the landlord. A series of stressful and invasive house inspections, coupled with my growing need for a place I could decorate and show off my creative side, led us to the natural conclusion that this wasn’t the place for us.
The rental property we found after that felt so much like home. So many fond memories and so many firsts: our son's first words, his first steps, our first family holiday. It was also the first place that I had put any effort into decorating and making everything feel more homely. Sadly that house went up for sale unexpectedly and we were forced to move really quickly.
This brings me to the home that we are in now, which has turned out to be one of the best decisions we have ever made. We found this property fairly quickly on Rightmove and booked a viewing the very next day. In all honesty, the house didn’t blow us away the moment we saw it, but it had so much potential. Our landlord accepted our application over many other eager applicants and we liked that we were able to see him in person before the moving date.
As you’ll see from the pictures, I’ve really put a lot of thought and effort into how I've decorated each space. For the more drastic changes, like the painting of dark-coloured walls and any flooring changes, we had to run these by our landlord first and if we were to move again, we might have to paint a few of the darker walls back, but we’re okay with that.
My favourite room in the house is our bedroom. It was the first space we decorated when we moved in. I’m a budget decorator so lots of my design choices are based around affordability rather than anything else. The doors on our wardrobes were created from OSB wood – much cheaper than buying ready-made doors – and eBay and Gumtree are my go-to places for sourcing larger pieces of furniture that don't cost an arm and a leg.
The two things I disliked most when we moved in were the kitchen and the laminate flooring throughout the house. The flooring was a reddish brown colour that scratched so easily – I absolutely hated it! Thankfully that flooring is no more; we asked our landlord if we could change it after our second year of living here and thankfully, they agreed. The kitchen is still a work in progress, it essentially just needs a refresh which hopefully we'll get the chance to save for later this year.
I’m a huge fan of darker colours like blacks, greys and browns, and I’ve kept that theme going throughout the house – I believe the continuity helps everything to flow so much better. I love contrasts though, and will often opt for half or one dark wall against white walls, as opposed to painting everything black. Dark colours in small doses, that’s the mantra I live by. A perfect example of this is the chalkboard in my dining room and the numbered stairs in my entrance.
I’ve never felt more at peace or content in a house than I do at the moment. I'm a renter and I love it. I hope my story can inspire others to feel that it's not all about being a homeowner, you can have an amazing experience renting. For the first time in what seems like a very long time, I’ve finally found a house worthy of calling our home.