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

In the Moment - - Contents - Words: Caro­line Row­land / Pho­tog­ra­phy: Re­nie Gray

As a small busi­ness coach, Re­nie spends a lot of time talk­ing and think­ing about other peo­ple’s work/life bal­ance (re­ 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,” (in­sta­

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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