What I Rent: Maisie, £700 a month for a one-bed flat in Kings Heath, Birmingham

It’s time for What I Rent, the weekly series exploring the ins, outs, and all abouts of renting.

Last week we were in a flat with a dreamy view of the Swiss Alps.

This time we’re in Birmingham with Maisie, 32, who manages the interior and display department for Harvey Nichols and runs her own interior design business (so yes, she knows her stuff).

Maisie lives with her partner Matt, a chef who runs his own restaurant in the neighbourhood of Kings Heath, and their cat Pablo.

They’ve rented this one-bedroom flat for three years.

Hey, Maisie! How much do you pay to live here?

Our rent is £700 pcm and our bills are roughly £230 pcm

And what do you get for what you pay?

Myself and my partner live in our one-bedroom ground floor flat, along with our crazy cat Pablo.

We have a neighbour who owns the flat above us, and we both have our own separate entrances and private gardens.

Our home is a 1930s Edwardian semi detached and as the property used to be one home, our bedroom and living room were previously reception rooms so they are big and spacious with tall ceilings and lots of natural light (five rooms in total).

We have one bathroom, a small dining room which doubles up as a work/craft area and a small galley kitchen.

We also have our own private patio and garden that leads out from the bedroom.

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

Personally I think we do. You can rent a two-bedroom terrace house for a similar price in Kings Heath, however with this property being semi detached, the rooms are really big.

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We also have a large driveway, which is more or less gold dust in Kings Heath as parking is such a nightmare.

We are also right opposite our local park, which makes the location even more desirable, so I imagine all those factors bump the rent slightly.

What do you think of the area?

We live in Kings Heath, which is a busy and vibrant suburb of south Birmingham not too far from the city centre and a stone’s throw from other popular neighbourhoods Moseley and Stirchley.

We live just off the main high street which is full of independent restaurants, bars, shop and coffee shops.

There’s pretty much everything you need on one high street, we rarely find ourselves having to go anywhere else for shopping or errands and there are regular farmers markets, vintage and craft fairs and street parties happening throughout the year.

How did you find the flat?

We searched lots of different online property websites and found this one on RightMove. It was by far the nicest out of all the other properties we saw.

How have you made this place feel like home?

I can’t stand the thought of feeling like I’m living in someone else’s home, surrounded by decor that doesn’t make me feel comfortable, but lucky for us, the house was like a blank canvas, painted in white throughout instead of the dull beige that landlords seem to love so much.

So I began adding splashes of colour and pattern with soft furnishings like rugs, cushions, curtains and throws that contrasted with the white walls.

I also began adding accents of black to create a monochrome colour palette. I asked for permission off the landlord to paint the picture rails, which was a really quick and effective way to change a room and the only bit of painting I’ve done in the flat.

I’m often decorating on a budget too, and I wanted to show people that you can make your home unique and personal even when you’re renting and without spending a fortune too, so most of my furniture is second hand from charity shops or Facebook Marketplace, which I’ve then upcycled myself.

I’ve transformed £5 dressers into real statement pieces that all of my guests can’t believe are second hand.

Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?

I began looking for interiors inspiration for the flat online and began coming up with non permanent ways to be able decorate.

I then discovered a bunch interior accounts on instagram owned by renters who inspired me to really put my own spin on the flat.

I’ve used plenty of renter-friendly, non-permanent decor hacks throughout the flat, like creating faux panelling and confetti style wallpaper using black Washi tape.

I’ve used self adhesive wallpaper and contact paper in my kitchen, on our bathpanel and on my fireplace too.

If I want to change something in the flat, I’ll usually find an example on Pinterest so my landlord can visualise what I plan to do. Luckily our landlord is happy for us to do what we like providing we put it all back to how it was when we moved in.

Although I did suggest they invest in a new bathroom floor, which would be a permanent change and offered to fit it myself if they paid, to which they agreed, and it looks fab.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

When we first moved in yes! But we’ve been here nearly three years and accumulated quite a lot of stuff over the time, (most of which are my upcycled projects) so we have now found ourselves with little space.

We also have a baby on the way, so that’s certainly given us a reason to find somewhere bigger!

Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?

We have had the odd plumbing issue, but that’s quite common with these houses and we did have a leak through the ceiling from upstairs washing machine, but it was nothing major.

Luckily as we rent, we don’t have to pay to get any contractors out, the landlord deals with all that.

Do you have plans to move again any time soon?


Do you want to own a place some day?

Yes, we are currently applying for a mortgage, so we hope to buy this year.

We are lucky to have had a really great experience renting and have a friendly landlord, as I know renting can often come with its issues, such as poorly kept properties, uncooperative letting agents or landlords deciding to sell the property.

As much as we will be sad to leave this flat, someone else will be very happy here.

Shall we take a look around?

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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