Welcome back to another episode of the #howirent home tours! If this is your first time visiting, hello! Let me give you a quick run through . . . #HowiRent is a monthly home tour series that started as a way to champion renters, who are transforming their homes into abodes of personality and style. Check out previous home tours here, or apply to be a guest here.
[All the beautiful photographs in this series have been shot by Kasia Fiszer ]
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INTRODUCING THIS MONTHS GUEST . . .
Africa is one my favourite people to follow on Instagram and also happens to be a dear friend. We met on online at the beginning of this year – although I’ll admit it does sometimes feel like we’ve known each other much longer! There are some people you meet in life that you just gel with immediately, Africa for me, is one of those people.
Africa (who goes by The Vitamin D project on Instagram) works full time as a showroom designer, is a mother to two beautiful girls Israel and Ezra (often featured on her Instagram grid), and wife to her husband Jermel.
On her blog, she shares written accounts of her personal experiences with post-natal depression and the effect it had on her family after the birth of her first child. Her challenging journey into motherhood is something I’m sure a lot of women can relate to.
What I admire most about Africa is her unwavering confidence and clarity when discussing topics that are important to her. She often uses her platform to champion the lack of representation and diversity in children’s books and brands. Her personal style is one of a kind and her home (as well as her fashion sense), is a true reflection of that!
In this episode, we are talking quite frankly about renting via social housing and the stigmas surrounding that. Hope you enjoy – over to Africa !
WATCH THE VIDEO TOUR OF AFRICA’S HOME.
Hi Africa. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Do you have any hobbies?
It’s probably the wrong time to ask as I’m in the midst of a mid-life crisis! But, I’m Africa, I have the most amazing, supportive husband and two beautiful children. My hobbies are sewing, eating and travelling.
Where do you live and who do you live with?
I live in North London with my husband Jermel and two daughters Israel, 3 and Ezra 1.
How long have you lived in this apartment?
Almost 5 months.
You mentioned in the video that you live in social housing, for those who might not have heard of it this before, what does this entail?
It’s a non-subsidized accommodation where the rents are pegged to local wages. The rent is often termed affordable as your “landlord” operates on a non-profit basis, with any excess funds going straight back into social housing. There is relative stability as most new tenancies are for 5 years.
Have you ever experienced any stigma because you live in social housing?
There is often a misconception that Social Housing is funded by others (tax-payers). This misconception brings with it a huge stigma and I’ve noticed it creates a huge rift between not so much homeowners and renters but private renters and those eligible for social housing.The waiting lists are extremely long and the eligibility process extremely rigorous, so whilst there is a lot of stigma, I try to remember that Social Housing has allowed my family to put down roots and establish a better future.
What do you like most about this apartment?
Our outdoor space is a real blessing.
Do you have a favourite piece of furniture or home accessory in your home?
My best find is our theatre seats which I found on eBay. I’m saving up to have them upholstered next year with some fabric my mum found for us as the green is a little close to our sofa colour.
What is it like renting from Housing association? Are there any restrictions with decorating?
Whilst there is more freedom than a typical landlord set up, we still had to ensure we had written permission from our Housing Officer before proceeding with any works and that our builders were both certified and fully vetted beforehand.its important for me to remember that while we have relative stability here, it isn’t our forever home and will likely be passed on to another family in the near future and so any significant that changes we made, we had to put a lot of thought into beforehand.
How would you describe your decorating style?
It’s a hard one and to be honest, I really don’t think I fit into a decorating niche. I want people to walk into our home and no instantaneously that it belongs to us .Our lifestyle should resonate in every room in its own way. I also really like the idea of rooms looking well-worn as opposed to new and shiny. If they start well worn, you don’t find yourself needing to do a “revamp” every so often. Not much should change here decor wise over the next 5 years and I’m very happy with that.
Do you have any favourite brands? Small Business shout outs?
Not really. I tend to fall in love with one item from a brand and not really be too fussed about anything else they sell. If I had the money, I’d kit the whole house in Lombok. As yet I don’t think I could even afford a napkin from there but a girl can dream. Oh and if it wasn’t already obvious I live on eBay. It will always be my first port of call for both clothing and interiors.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Everywhere. I think people forget to look outside the box and Social Media is probably the main reason for that. We have this immediate window into the finished product at all times and often we’re then only a tap away from adding to our shopping basket. I love to look at textures.And then think about how I can apply them in my own home. I fell down a Pinterest rabbit-hole looking at reeded glass tumblers and now I have this idea of how to to upcycle some new door frames if we ever get round to changing them. I think the biggest mistake we make is taking things too literal and that really does limit inspiration.
How do you feel about renting? Do you ever see yourself buying a home one day?
I know most people feel security from being a home owner, but coming from such a humble background nothing terrifies me more. I find it bizarre that nobody acknowledges the fact that unless you’re buying outright you are wading right into 25 years of extreme debt.It’s the only debt we celebrate! I would love to be in a position to commit to the cost of a London mortgage each month -and whilst our rent is (in my opinion) still exceptionally high, unless we found a mortgage that was comparative to our rent prices I don’t think home ownership would be on the cards for us anytime soon.
Would you decorate differently if you bought a home?
Nope! And that’s the beauty of buying intentionally.
Can you share any renter friendly DIYS you’ve done recently?
Because we have a relative freedom to decorate, most of our DIY jobs may not be “renter-friendly” in the traditional sense, but if we ever get round to updating our doors I’ll share that with you.
So what do you think of Africa’s home? Do you have any thoughts you’d like to add to this discussion on social housing? Leave a comment below. As always your support and shares are always appreciated. You can also share your rented homes on Instagram using #HowIRent.
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