how to bring your unmistakable style and color to a rental home

Call it teenage rebellion; call it a fleeting trend; or call it the tastes of our parents or friends: for most of us, our childhood bedroom decor is something best left in the past.

But for author and content creator Medina Grillo, her childhood room has shaped her entire home and, potentially, her career. She now has more than 200,000 followers on social media and blogs taking note of every DIY tutorial and paint update.

“I remember the first bedroom so clearly that I was allowed to decorate,” he says. “My mom said she would let me paint the walls and I knew I would do it yellow. It was just a happy color for me. Even now, whenever I see yellow, I feel joyful. It’s a bit of nostalgia and it just feels right to me. “

While Grillo has gone from the wall-to-wall sunny yellow of her youth, her three-bedroom rental in Birmingham stars in her favorite color. After seven years there, she feels she has truly mastered her own design style and shared what she learned in a book written for renters, Home Sweet Rented Home. “I think it’s a good idea when you move into a house to see how you and your family use it before you start decorating,” she says. “When we felt more comfortable here, I realized how we could make the best use of the space.” And that knowledge influenced the choices she made about her how to decorate her home.

The warm ocher hue in the living room is a subtle backdrop for open shelving that house vintage artifacts, mementos, plants and books. “I don’t really give my design style a name,” she says. “It’s just a collection of things I love. I guess it’s eclectic. “

He combines pre-loved treasures with pieces he can recycle. “eBay is great for finding styling accessories and recyclable items because you can collect so many unique pieces that add depth and character and mix them with new furniture,” he says. “I always check eBay before buying anything new elsewhere.”

And for Grillo, style must always be tempered by substance: “I’m definitely great for design that looks nice, but must also be functional. Whatever you see in my house, there must be a utility.

In addition to being a place to relax and watch TV, the living room hosts clever solutions such as a compact office under the stairs where Grillo and her husband work. “I’m neurodivergent, so I like things to be positioned a certain way,” she says. “That’s why the entrance hall is zoned because, in my mind, I need a different space for different things. I like to rethink how awkward spaces can work better. “

She recommends using large furniture and rugs to dissect areas, as well as play with texture and color. In her home, patterned wallpaper decorates the entrance area and horizontal wooden sticks attached to the wall add interest to the sitting space and make the mustard yellow sofa stand out, dotted with geometric black and white pillows.

The kitchen / dining room is another multifunctional space where the family can dine and relax. Cleverly hanging folding chairs and floral floor cushions once again offer purpose, but also add interest and texture. It is a space that can be adapted to any scenario: entertain, create or relax with a magazine. “I like having a space for children to play and then a dining area. It makes sense in my mind, but it also makes sense for the way we use it as a family. Things are less likely to get messy.

“For a long time, the dining room never seemed finished,” he says. “But ever since the final touch was added, a room divider from eBay, it has come to life. It is a lovely space, there is a great light in there [a rattan lampshade is also from eBay] and many vintage pieces that I love “.

As she rents, upgrades to the kitchen took time, but Grillo recently got permission from his landlord to completely overhaul it. The result is welcoming, with walnut sideboards, textured tiles and open shelves, which have helped rekindle Grillo’s love for the kitchen.

“Always ask your landlord before doing anything,” he says. “People sometimes think renters can’t make changes, but most of the time owners are open to your decorating, you just need to make sure you get their agreement in writing.

“Renters often make the mistake of staying in a property that doesn’t reflect their personality. You can make it yours by doing something as simple as printing a print of one of your favorite artists. It doesn’t have to be great; it can be little things that show who you are as a person.

This ethos is evident in the master bedroom, with glimpses of Grillo’s persona shining through the artwork, vintage wall lighting (adapted to plug in so it doesn’t damage the walls), transformed built-in wardrobes with elegant wooden doors and objects and books present on a shelf above the bed. “I’m a huge fan of upcycling, so most of the time I buy my furniture second hand and then make it look more like me. I’ll add some paint, change the handles and give it a bit of a makeover at the Medina. “

If there is a room that closes the circle of the journey in design, it is the nursery that Grillo has set up for his youngest son. Once an office, he transformed it into a versatile space that makes the most of its size. A reading nook, a dressing room, and a hanging coat rack for clothes are among the highlights, but it’s the sunny yellow hue running halfway up the walls that has brought Grillo back to his origins.

Will its next makeover be yellow? It is still to be seen. But what is certain is that it will be functional, full of character and representative of all the things that matter to the evolving needs of the Grillo family.

of Medina Tips for buying on eBay

Use it for everything
Always check eBay before buying something new elsewhere. Chances are you can find it for half the price!

To bid
Don’t be afraid to bargain. You can often negotiate with sellers, so make an offer. You have nothing to lose and you could get a few pounds off the advertised price.

Save your searches
If you are looking for a very specific article and are ready to wait for the right one to arrive, you can save your search. Then you will be notified if there are any new listings that match your search term.

Get the look of Medina

Find warming neutrals and tactile naturals on eBay. If these have sold, there is always more

Favorite lampshade
Mirror Medina’s precious woven wicker lampshade with this vintage beauty – bargain at £ 30. Search for ‘wicker lampshade’ to find similar items.

Handmade rattan trays
Hand-woven rattan serving trays in four soothing shades with the ambitious name Coastalvillahomeware. From £ 29.99.

Renovated chest of drawers
Carefully refurbished by Clearcycle_UK, Swoon’s Burris Acacia Wood and Black Steel Chest of Drawers would set you back £ 499 new, sold here for £ 185.

Shop Home on eBay for more pieces that add warmth with style

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