The Instagrammer showing us simple ways to personalise a rental home

With over 4.5 million households renting in the UK, Grillo Designs' tips have the ability to help many out of a rental decor rut.


When every inch of life in situated around the home, it can be tough if your surroundings aren’t wholly your own. That could be down to the furniture or inability to change things up, or perhaps it’s fellow roomies who don’t happen to share your style sensibilities (or know their boundaries!). The pandemic has laid bare our likes and dislikes of our everyday living environment and amplified them to the max. And when it comes to interior style, if your bedroom’s more ‘blah’ than you’d previously wanted to admit, you’re not alone.

But, according to a brilliant campaign, you can make some small and significant changes. There can be immense joy to be found in renting, as Medina Grillo, aka Grillo Designs, found out. Thanks to her brilliant Instagram account, she’s fast become the champion for the right to love our temporary flats and houses, getting us to relish our rented spaces and encourage pride in interiors even if they may not be our forever homes.

To help others, Medina, a black Muslim mother and also the author of Home Sweet Rented Home, has also set up a series called How I Rent, which profiles individuals and their rental nests.

She says: “Here in the UK, we are just a tad bit obsessed with owning our own homes… (on reflection, maybe that’s where all that perceived pressure comes from). Getting on to the  property ladder in this country is everything. Its seen as a sort of rights of passage to a higher status in life. And a natural expectation, once you’ve found yourself a decent paying job.

“But what do you do if you are struggling to save for an ever increasing deposit and have no choice other than to rent? You make the most if it, that’s what you do.”

She’s interviewed and spied around the properties of blogger Kristabel Plummer, Africa Daley-Clarke who’s better known as The Vitamin D Project, and interior stylist Salsabil El-Awaisi.

There are brilliant tips on how to decorate a rented home without sacrificing your deposit, helpful hacks and updating tips without the need to paint or drill, and practical tips on dealing with landlords.

Medina is also very realistic about renting and is keen to show the good as well as the bad. “This #howirent page was never started to glorify the positives and forget all the negatives of renting. Far from it. This page was set up to encourage people to be brave, be creative, and be resourceful when it comes to decorating. I want people to see their homes for more than just four walls and seek out the joy in them. Of course I know there are limits when you rent, but sometimes great ideas come when you are forced to think outside of the box...” she says.

What’s more, it’s wonderfully diverse in its profiles. There’s been much conversation about growing representation in the design world, and Medina is certainly doing her bit to elevate the cause.


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