I live in southeast London with my boyfriend, Rob, and we found this flat after being turfed out of our last place. It was a tiny, fourth-floor new build that had the most gorgeous views across East Dulwich, but the landlord was selling the building and we’re nowhere near the buying stage (and won’t be for some time, TBH).
But what seemed like a sad situation actually turned out to be a blessing. The flat we’re in now is much bigger, has more character (and by character I mean big windows and too much wood), and is just round the corner from our last place, so we got to stay in the area.
The cost of moving has been a real problem for us over the past few years. We’ve lived in four flats in two years, thanks to nightmare landlords and wanting to live alone rather than with others. Every time you move, agency fees, deposits and van hire drain your bank balance so I really hope we’ll be here for a long time now. I’m a real nesty person, and moving our things after just settling in makes me sad – although I’m so aware of our privilege in being able to afford housing in London as it is. Our rent is currently £1,425, and we could definitely find somewhere cheaper, but after years of huge houses with lots of housemates, we wanted our own place. East Dulwich is also fairly expensive compared to other parts of southeast London, but I have a full-on job as a fashion and beauty writer which involves running around central London for shoots, meeting PRs, and attending product launches and events. Coming home to a borough that feels like a village is really soothing and good for getting some headspace.
Rob and I have quite different priorities when it comes to finding a home. He’s super practical and looks out for sensible things like mould, how much energy we’ll use, and distance from a train station. I, however, am surface-level deep and focus on aesthetics… He whips me into shape and we compromise, though. This place is freezing in winter but hopefully will be glorious and warm all summer. It is very pretty, too...
My favourite part of the flat is probably the bedroom. Sitting in bed on a Saturday morning with coffee and toast is divine. As the bed faces the huge window that looks out onto the park, there are no fewer than five dogs visible from my window at any one time, so it makes me really happy. We’re not allowed pets, so obsessively watching other people's is as good as it gets right now. The bedroom also has beautiful wooden floors, an exposed brick wall (ugh, I’m a total cliché) and big wardrobes – which is essential as I have a stupid amount of clothes.
Much to Rob’s chagrin, my overpacked wardrobe overflows onto the chair by our bedroom window. The chair was my grandma’s, and my most vivid memories of her are her sitting and smoking in it, so I adore it – plus look at the wonderful chintzy fabric! I’m ordered to remove the growing pile every week though, as it’s also Rob’s favourite reading spot.
I think your home is such a reflection of your personal style. Some of my friends are minimalists and have the most beautiful set-ups, but their aesthetic wouldn’t feel right in my flat and vice versa. For me, anything wooden, printed and textured is dreamy; from Persian rugs (and IKEA knockoffs) to knitted throws in bold colours. Of course, like any mid-twenties renter looking to make their home feel more homey, plants are essential. I can’t be trusted to look after them, but we have about 10 in every room. I love that all the trappings of ‘70s interiors – macramé, seagrass, and cheese plants – which were supremely uncool and old-fashioned back then, are everyone’s go-to now. In terms of practical decorating tips, these velcro strips are genius. When landlords get arsey about putting nails in the wall, but you want to put your favourite prints up, these adhesive babies leave no marks, and hold even the heaviest of frames.
I’m pretty basic in my homeware shopping; H&M Home, Matalan, Etsy, eBay, Gumtree, Freecycle, and MADE are my go-to spots. Oh, and Oliver Bonas makes the nicest mugs and glassware sets but I try and support independent ceramicists, as their pieces are often the same price and made with love. IKEA is obviously wonderful, and I don’t trust anyone who says they don’t like it, but I’d rather buy a secondhand chest of drawers from one of nearby New Cross’ many furniture shops than there.
I’m yet to reach the upcycling stage of furniture owning, as while we’re renting I’m apprehensive about spending too much time and money on it – you never know if your stuff will fit in the next place you rent, so I’d rather contribute to my excessive wardrobe right now… That said, I still obsess over Instagram accounts that chart people’s renovations. Before and after pictures are my crack, and I get really into seeing other people’s lives play out via kitchen refurbs and bedroom overhauls. I think I might be old before my time, ya know.
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