Medina Grillo has made a career out of making rentals feel like homes. In fact, she’s so good at overcoming renting restrictions and creating spaces filled with personality and style that she’s written a book about it, Home Sweet Rented Home.
The author and interiors blogger lives in a semi-detached, three-bedroom rental property in Birmingham with her husband and son. Although the house is free of intricate features such as fireplaces or decorative cornicing, Grillo has applied her skills and imagination to create a home that is full of character and vibrancy. Her one tip for injecting personality in a rented living space? “When you can’t paint, add art,” she says. “Art brings colour and personality to any room. Hanging art can take many forms. While the best might be a single, large canvas on the wall behind the sofa, large paintings can be expensive. Another option is to buy a selection of identical or similar frames to create a ‘gallery’ and fill them with photographs and/or prints.”
Take a tour of Grillo’s home below, and follow her on Instagram at @grillodesigns.
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“This is a super tiny space just before you enter into my living room. It houses all the coats, shoes, hats, etc. The H&M basket under the bench is for all our shoes, and the shelf above is for hats and scarves. The basket on the wall is held in place by a command hook, and usually catches any letter posted through the door.”
“I wanted to create an area that was separate from the living room. I zoned the space with monochrome removable wallpaper from Etsy and added functional storage using an Ikea Ivar cabinet, and peg hooks for bags and outdoor wear. Removing one door from the cabinet allowed me to have a section to display the prettier items, and at the same time, hide the less prettier (but very useful) items out of sight.”
The living room
“This wall-to-wall shelving system in our living room are renter-friendly and are actually built on a custom platform. I love books and this is a great way to store them. The lower baskets on the shelves are for toy storage. The mustard yellow sofa is probably my favourite thing in this room – it honestly makes such a huge statement.”
“These stairs were originally carpeted and the bannisters painted a dark brown. As this staircase is actually in my living room, I wanted it to look more like a feature rather than an eyesore. I painted risers with Valspar Coal Tipple and carpeted the steps.”
“I needed a space in my home to work, as my husband also now works from home too. I created this office in my dining room, and painted a large sunny arch to zone it all. Yellow is my favourite colour and so working here in the day always lifts my mood. The shelves are from Next Home, and the table is an old dining table that I repurposed into a desk.”
The coffee station
“My husband and I are big coffee drinkers, so it made sense to have a dedicated space for to store our coffee. The feature wall behind is made from raw wood planks and really helps to frame the space. The prettier items are displayed on the hooks and shelf and the other accessories are in the cabinet. The cabinet is from Wayfair, and the shelf is from Not On The High Street.
“I removed the doors from my top cabinets to create an open shelving feel. I applied removable wallpaper to the backing of the cabinets to add a little character. The fact that I’ve been able to display my favourite kitchen accessories and dishware has given the space a little more personality.”
“My bedroom is probably the calmest in terms of my home décor. I have used a lot of different textures and materials to bring character to this neutral space. The half painted wall creates a lovely contrast without being too overwhelming and the shelf above the bed is great for displaying my favourite items. The baskets and cushions are from Not On The High Street, the bed is from La Redoute, and lighting from eBay.“
“The drawer is one of my favourite upcycled projects from last year. I bought a dresser very cheaply from eBay, painted and stained it for a more modern touch. The wardrobe cupboard doors are made from OSB wood. There is definitely a lot of mixing and matching of wood textures in this space which adds to the warm earthy feel.”
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