What I Own: Meg, who put a £37,500 deposit on her Derbyshire cottage

Welcome back to What I Own – our weekly homeowner series.

This week we are travelling to the countryside to meet Meg – who lives with her partner and two adorable dogs.

Meg bought her first property last year and has been busy renovating and decorating – now her cottage is a pink and green paradise.

This is what she had to say about her buying experience…

Tell us about yourself, Meg...

I’m 26 and I work in marketing with a background in graphic design. I live with my partner Jack and our two cockapoos, Ella and Peach.

After living in cities for over six years, I felt like it was definitely time to come back to the countryside – I’m a country girl at heart.

Whereabouts is your property?

We live in an old mill cottage in Derbyshire, just on the edge of the beautiful Peak District, and we absolutely love it. There are plenty of walks on our doorstep, as well as lovely views from both the front and back of the cottage. 

When did you move in?

We got the keys in March 2020 and officially moved in late May 2020 once we’d made the property habitable. We’re still in the process of renovating, so not all the rooms/outside are fully finished, but it definitely feels like home to us.

How much does your property cost?

We bought the property for £150,000. 

How much was your deposit?

We put down a deposit of £37,500. 

What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?

Our mortgage is £385pm and bills are just under £250pm. 

How did you save up for your deposit?

It was a mixture of our joint savings and family inheritance that had been left to me by my grandparents.

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?

We went into the first national lockdown the week before we were due to exchange and complete on the house, so there were a lot of uncertainties on whether it would go ahead. Our solicitors advised us to do the exchange and completion on the same day to reduce any risks, which in the end worked out fine.

Other than this, the overall process was pretty straightforward. We used an amazing mortgage broker who took all the stress away and went above and beyond to find us the best deal.

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?

We were both first-time buyers, so this is our first property.

Before this, we rented a flat in Leeds. We moved back to Derbyshire when we got the keys to our cottage, and lived with my parents for the first three months while we started the renovation. 

What made you want to buy rather than renting?

After renting for over six years, it was a no brainer really. We wanted to know that the money we were paying each month was being invested rather than lost in rent money. Because we put a big deposit down on a cheaper property, our monthly mortgage payments are over half of what we used to pay on rent for a one-bedroom flat in Leeds.

What made you choose this property?

We found the property on Rightmove and booked to view it, along with five other properties in and around the Peak District. This was the last property we viewed on the day, and – although it needed fully renovating – we could see all the potential it had. The rural location and beautiful views definitely helped us to see past the musty smell and damp.

How have you made the property feel like home?

We have spent the last year giving most of our time (and monthly incomes) to renovating the property. We started off by taking it back to an empty shell, and then worked out the new layouts of each room. We did most of the work ourselves, as well as hiring a plasterer, electrician and plumber. 

We knew we wanted to keep as many original features as possible, so we exposed the chimney breasts downstairs, kept the original fireplaces upstairs, and restored the original floorboards in our bedroom. We’ve then gone for a cheerful colour palette throughout, which instantly lifts our moods every day. 

What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?

We get a lot of inspiration from Instagram, Pinterest and interior magazines. But I’d say we started each room off with a statement piece of furniture we absolutely loved and then worked from there, choosing other pieces of furniture to complement it to form a colour scheme.

For example, the first thing we chose for the kitchen was our gorgeous patterned floor tiles. We then worked from these, picking out the green and pink shades to form a bold, colour scheme throughout the room.

What’s your favourite room and why?

Definitely our kitchen. I just love the colour combo and it has so many of my favourite things in it: pretty tiles, green kitchen cabinets, pendant shell lights, the kitchen island (which we built ourselves) and our new handy corner bench.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

We definitely have enough space for just the two of us and our pooches. 

Do you have plans to change the property?

We’re currently still renovating. Now we’ve got the majority of the bigger work done inside, the plan is to focus on the outside this year. We have a front garden, back garden and then two small pieces of land to the right of the property. We’re going to use one of these spaces to create some additional parking spaces and the other as a little ‘secret garden.’

Are there any problems with the property that you’ve have to deal with?

We bought the property fully aware that we’d have to do a full renovation as it was in a poor state. There was a lot of damp downstairs, especially in the pantry next to the kitchen. Originally, the pantry was a few steps down from the kitchen. Years later, it turns out it had been filled in poorly, which had then caused damp to travel through the floor and up the walls. This was one cost we had not accounted for which was slightly frustrating, but I guess that is the joy of buying an old house.

After re-doing the flooring and a course of damp-proofing, we ended up also taking down the party wall between the kitchen and the pantry, which created a big open kitchen space. So every cloud has a silver lining I suppose.

What do you want people to know about buying a home?

Buying our fixer-upper house is the best thing we’ve done. We feel so proud to be able to call it our home, and it’s so worth it once you get past all the dust and mess.

Buying a home allows you to really put your stamp on something and make it your own little happy place. 

What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing?

It will be really hard to say goodbye to our little cottage one day, as it’s our first home and we’ve put so much effort and love into it.

The plan is to stay here for the next few years while it’s just the two of us, and then look to up-size in the future. We’d definitely buy old again rather than new as we love having some character and history.

Photos before the renovation…






How Meg’s cottage looks now…










More of Meg’s incredible renovation efforts can be found over on her Instagram account @megmonde.

How to get involved in What I Own:

What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected] 

You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important. 

If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected]

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