The Secret to This Renter’s Cozy Dining Nook? A Headboard

Her project was inspired by quaint London cafés.
Small dining nook with seat cushion

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“I travel a lot to London for my work, and many of the cafés I like to eat in there have a really nice banquette kind of fitting,” says design blogger and author Medina Grillo. “I just thought, How could I achieve that?” She was in the process of planning a transformation for her dining nook—an area of her home that she and her family didn’t necessarily frequent all that much and no longer felt totally in line with her personal style. And then she had a brilliant idea: She’d use a headboard—one made for a bed.

When she first decorated the nook, she outfitted the corner with a cork table, a bench, and metal chairs (not unlike the ones you’d find in a cool restaurant), and set it all against a wall painted with black chalkboard paint. But after four years, she wanted to shake things up a little. “We weren’t using the space as much as we should have,” says Grillo. “Before, the space was really cool and rustic, but it felt a bit cold. Now it seems much brighter and intimate and warm.”

Medina Grillo in her dining nook
Courtesy of Medina Grillo

In quarantine, she decided to make the change, and so she used plenty of materials she already had in her garage. She painted the walls half white and half warm, golden taupe; created a new bench using a few IKEA Kallax shelves she had on hand; and swapped in a smaller table and wood chairs. A simple gray headboard she was gifted from British design store Next gave off that café look she was craving. Since it came without bottom pegs already attached, all she had to do was affix it to the wall with the help of a few sawtooth picture hangers (making sure to screw them into the wood frame of the headboard, not the plush part, to ensure it stayed stable).

The gray upholstery is dark enough to be forgiving of any potential food stains, and the piece is simple while also popping against the brighter walls. With a few resourceful updates, Grillo transformed the nook into a space where she and her family can sit, eat, and pass the time in comfort. “When the sun comes into the room, it’s lovely and warm,” she says. “It’s just a nice place to be.” 

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Rebecca Deczynski


Rebecca is most often found digging through troves of vintage treasures, both in-person and online. Ask her to recommend a good book to read or an obscure Instagram account to follow, and you won’t be disappointed.