MY STILL SPACE Small business coach Renie Gray shows us how to create a tranquil hideway full of creative inspiration.
Small business coach Renie Gray shares how her tranquil hideaway at the top of the house brings creative inspiration and a strong sense of personal identity
As a small business coach, Renie spends a lot of time talking and thinking about other people’s work/life balance (reniegray.com). It would be easy for these responsibilities to overwhelm and a ect her own wellbeing, but Renie explains that she is fully aware that she must fuel and nurture herself successfully to do her job well. When in need of relaxation or inspiration, it is her loft studio space in her parents’ converted attic that she retreats to.
After moving home to Belfast from London to be nearer her parents, the room is one she knows well – although it is now very di erent to her childhood days. It’s a light, bright and airy space, that Renie has made her own with her choice of furniture. “I have been quite consistent in recent years with my love of a warm, tonal palette, which translates itself from my interior furnishings to my wardrobe. My sense is that my style is evolving into something that would be recognisable as a hybrid of Scandi and Bohemian.”
The large, white desk is a blank canvas on which to create, Renie says. “This is where I feel my most creative; it’s where I journal and listen to inspiring podcasts, TED talks and audiobooks. And more recently I’ve started working on Agraylife – my very rst blog,” (instagram.com/agraylife).
Treasured possessions and delicate plants are beautifully displayed upon wire shelving. “To the untrained eye my walls are just full of plants and
“My walls might seem like they’re full of knick-knacks, but each piece provokes and encourages me.”
knick-knacks, but to me, each piece
I display reminds, provokes and encourages me.” In particular, a pair of jeans hanging to the left of the shelves are very poignant for Renie. “For me, a signi cant time was in my teens, wearing those ripped 80s jeans feeling fully alive, fully myself and absolutely believing that I was enough. So, they hang on my wall as a daily reminder that I am still me and I am still enough.”
Renie was born in Ghana, West Africa, then adopted and raised in Northern Ireland. “Mine is not your typical story of a Northern Irish childhood! But the beauty of life is that nobody’s story is typical. I grew up with a strong sense of belonging and identity, yet to others my di erence was well noticed and their responses intrigued me. As I get older, I re ect and wonder if perhaps that’s where it all began – my love of people, their individuality and their unique potential.”
While her work focusses on other people’s progression and development, Renie knows how to cultivate her own happiness. Her daily rituals include a walk on the beach, and she is fastidious about creating structure for her working week. Her loft studio also contributes to her ability to keep sight of her visions and values. “I have a giant corkboard that I use as a mood board. On it I have magazine clippings of inspirational scenes, photos of people that I admire, words of wisdom and truth. It not only serves as a reminder of what I want in life but also how I want to feel. When I catch sight of it, it reminds me of my purpose and the contribution I want to make in the world.”
Renie’s professional and personal outlook is a true reminder of the importance of maintaining a balance within our lives – enjoying relationships with others, valuing ourselves as individuals and relishing time spent in a nurturing space.
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