February 6, 2018

The DIY Guru | Interview with Medina Grillo of Grillo Designs


Medina’s Office Nook in her bedroom.

It’s interview time and on this occasion, I’m doing something a little different. Being interviewed as a blogger is a little weird yet it’s something that personally I love doing. I also love getting to know the community, talking via Instagram and meeting at events. The blogging world is full of diverse people and the great thing is, we all like to do things differently. That’s why blogging has become so popular in recent years – it’s a chance to have your own voice.

For all of these reasons, I thought it time to get someone on board for an interview and there seemed nobody more appropriate than Medina of Grillo Designs, someone whom I met through the Amara Interior Blog Awards (she won too!) and have delved into interesting conversations with since. I think I feel closely aligned to Medina in the fact that we both rent, both have full-time jobs and both enjoy a hefty amount of pattern. I was so pleased to have connected with her and I’d love for you to meet her too!

Medina is a healthcare professional, so let’s get one thing straight, her full-time job is a helluva lot harder than mine. With night shifts and NHS-strain, I’m not quite sure how she ever gets the time to blog, especially with a husband and a son to look after too. That being said, blog she does, and her site is filled with DIY’s, room tours and tutorials. Her Instagram is a monochrome and ochre yellow dream and her Pinterest also happens to be award-winning FYI. I thoroughly enjoy her personal take on interiors and her interesting use of material (removable wallpaper as flooring people). It’s also a pleasure to see someone voicing their opinion on everything from culture and diversity so get reading, and head on over to Grillo Designs too.


The infamous wallpaper flooring.

Firstly, can you tell me in a brief summary exactly what Grillo Designs is about?
Of course! Grillo Designs is essentially my creative outlet, brought on by a sometimes stressful day job. Initially, the blog started off as a safe place for me to document my various crafts, decorating and DIY ideas, but over the past year, it’s become a little less about me and more about sharing ideas that I think my readers might find helpful. My goal is, and always will be, to inspire a creative and affordable style of home living through the art of DIY and up-cycling. And yes, that applies to everyone, whether you are a homeowner or you rent. Everyone deserves to be in a home they love!
 How did you get into DIY? Especially in a rented property where it can be hard to make changes…
A limited budget mostly, and not liking the idea of having to rely on other people  A few years ago, I hired a handyman to build a playhouse for my son in the garden. It was a horrible experience, and the ‘professional’ in question did a very lousy job. My husband and I ended up having to finish the job ourselves, much to my disappointment. In my frustration, I remember thinking “what was the point in paying someone, when I could have just done it myself?”
Well, that’s kind of where the DIY started. I actually have never told anyone that story, it’s one of those experiences I try to block out. Anyway, over the years my husband, who is quite the dab hand at DIY and building (but also was very reluctant to admit this when he realised all that extra work he’d have to put in) has taught me a few things, including how to use power tools and basic handyman skills.
Living in a rented property can sometimes make DIY very hard because decorating can never really be permanent. You also have to get the landlords permission and If you’re looking for your deposit back, then most changes will need to be restored to its original stage before you leave. This concept used to bug me a lot, but I’ve made with peace with it now.

Tones of ochre, black and white in Medina’s bedroom

And what is your favourite DIY project EVER?

My favourite DIY project is the bench I built for my entrance! It was my first time building anything solely by myself – without my husband’s input. I’m pretty proud of it and more importantly, it fits its purpose perfectly. I wrote the tutorial for it on a whim, and hardly even took any progress pictures for it. I hadn’t initially planned to share it on the blog, but I’m glad I did. That post is one of my most popular posts to date. It’s always the way, right?
You’re a fellow Amara award winner. How do you think this has changed your attitude to blogging?
Winning the Amara Award last year was beyond amazing and I definitely feel more content within my role as a blogger. Seriously, the whole thing – being nominated, shortlisted etc, felt out of this world. It’s nice to be given some form of recognition for all your hard work. Blogging can sometimes feel like a lonely journey. It can be quite an autonomous role as most times it’s just you and your computer. You won’t have someone standing over you telling you, “what a great job you’ve done today” or advising you on what you might need to do better next time. You kinda have to do all that yourself. So it’s nice when an outside person takes over that role once in a while and really SEES you and all the effort you put in.

DIY Pen Pots in the bedroom of Medina’s son

And even more recently you won ‘Pinner’s Choice’ in the Domino Blog Awards. How do you think both of these accolades have affected your visibility and potential opportunities?
Oh, that award came out of a left field for sure. I was still on such a high from winning the Amara, I couldn’t fully process the email telling me that I had been nominated for another award. And then when I saw all the names in the running, I was even more “is this real?”
Ive actually ‘met’ some amazing bloggers from winning these awards. I also feel that my blog is a little more known then it might have been a year ago as a result of these accolades. I like to think that it will give me more exciting opportunities in the future but we’ll see!
Blogging is your side hustle. Do you have any advice on how to stay motivated?
It’s a hard one and something I do struggle with trying to find a healthy balance. There are times when I just feel exhausted and don’t want to blog let alone even adult. However, my husband is really supportive and he usually helps to keep me motivated or pull me out of a creative funk if needed. Also reading business success stories and listening to motivational podcasts or Facebook Lives really help keep me on track.

A gorgeous ombre chest of drawers in Medina’s bedroom

What do you hope to bring to Grillo Designs in 2018?
Awesome content! That is my man goal really. I want to bring you more of what my readers liked in 2017, but just bigger and better!

Is Medina’s style for you? Keep up with her journey by following her on Pinterest and Instagram


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Emma Jane Palin is a freelance art consultant, interior stylist and multi-award-winning blogger residing in Margate, UK. She has worked with various home and lifestyle brands not limited to West Elm, Apple, John Lewis, Habitat, MADE, Caran D'Ache + No.3 Gin. Emma is also a regular contributor to Hunker where she writes about design trends and interior advice.

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