"As long as you have a vision for how you can really make it your own, you can create a space that’s unique and most importantly, reflects who you are."

Spotlight on: Giles Morten – transforming his property guardian home on a budget

For Giles, property guardianship represents much more than simply inexpensive housing. For him, it’s a chance to establish his independence,  channel his creativity and passion for interior design, and the platform he needs to kickstart life after university. We spoke to Giles about how he transformed his empty flat into a home that represents his artistic personality.

I moved into my flat in Henley-on-Thames in March 2021. After going to a viewing and seeing it in person, I completely fell in love with the place. As the flat was mostly bare and unfurnished, I knew that I was going to have to put real thought towards some painting and decorating, but I was excited by the prospect of really making it my own so that it felt homely and welcoming. 

Even though the walls were bright yellow and the floors were bare, I could tell that the property was in great condition. I made a start by painting the walls white which is a great way to make a room feel spacious and have depth. But I wanted some bright colour in there so that the flat reflected my personality, and so I went with a colour scheme of blue, grey, white and teal.  Once the painting was done with a little help from a friend, I got some carpets down to cover up the bare floor. Now it was starting to look and feel like my own home. 

A lot of the actual furnishings I was able to get second-hand. I got my sofa off of Gumtree for £180, a freezer from the same place for £40 and found a good deal for a fridge from Currys for £100. There are loads of options nowadays to upcycle old pieces of furniture to give them a modern look – Gumtree and Facebook marketplace are both great sources for discovering little gems for pennies. 

The garden at the back of the flat was my last task. I spent a lot of time just clearing away weeds and overgrown plants outside which revealed a really nice patio area and raised lawn where I’ve now got my own herb garden. And I’ve painted the garden wall white to give it a Mediterranean feel. It’s lovely to sit outside on warm days and I feel lucky to have my own private outdoor space. 

From my own experience, I really feel that property guardianship is the way forward. It’s great to be giving empty, unused spaces a purpose through low-cost accommodation. For young people like me who are starting out in their careers and earning a starting salary, it’s a brilliant option – I wouldn’t be able to decorate my own flat and garden if it weren’t for Dot Dot Dot. Plus, I’ve got some great property guardian neighbours who I see all the time, so you just feel part of a ready-made community. 

You don’t need to have loads of spare money to be able to decorate and furnish your space, but what you do spend you will make back in the money you’re saving through lower monthly living costs. All of the money that I spent on decorating and furnishing my flat, worked out as less than a standard deposit in the private rental market – after a couple of months, I broke even. As long as you have a vision for how you can really make it your own, you can create a space that’s unique and most importantly, reflects who you are.”  

Discover how Giles has transformed his flat in this short video. If you’re interested in becoming a property guardian, take our short eligibility quiz.