Basket Finds is a series in which I chat to wonderful women who know a thing or two about ‘hunting down’ the perfect basket for their home or their personal style.
This month, I talk to Renie Gray, an interiors lover with a penchant for vintage and a keen eye for rattan, on all things basket walls, growing up with a weaving loom and her tips on styling for first-timers.
Hi Renie, so great to talk to you! Can you give us a little insight into what you do?
Hi, my name is Renie and I live in a small town just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland.
I’m a leadership and development coach for creative entrepreneurs and business owners. I’m currently on an extended work sabbatical caring for my elderly mother, and slowly refurbishing a 1960’s bungalow, filled with furniture spanning all the decades. It’s a challenge but very enjoyable.
Wow, a 1960s bungalow sounds like a great project! You describe your style as vintage with new, boho with modern. How did you develop that unique (and beautiful!) mix?
Ah shucks thanks :) My style has always been super eclectic.
I find inspiration can come to me visually from almost anywhere, walking into a shop, staying in a hotel or flicking through a fashion magazine. My interior style is a reflection of all these influences.
I love the idea of recreating my own takes on current and old trends. I’m deeply deeply rooted in my love of earthy colours, natural tones, textures and artisan pieces.
I fell in love with your basket wall (of course!), what gave you the inspiration to add that to your home?
I feel like my basket wall has been years in the making (in my head that is).
I’ve been collecting baskets ever since I can remember, and have always wanted one of those huge ones that sprawled across the length of a room. I kept putting it off (don’t you hate perfectionism?) as I wasn’t sure I had enough baskets to make the full effect I had always imagined.
At the start of this year I challenged myself to either get the baskets up within the month or pack them away and donate to a charity shop. It worked. It’s not the huge wall filler, instead it’s actually quite a simple, multi layered effect, but I love it and no doubt I’ll be adding more to it as and when I feel like it.
It's beautiful. Where did you find all of the baskets you used?
Like most of my interiors, they are all secondhand, found over the years in carboot sales, market fairs and charity shops. I’ve always got my eye out for a pretty little (or big) basket or two.
I have found one or two more from eBay more recently. Collecting them secondhand is fun as no two are the same. I love the contrasting differences in the type of weave and colours as they add more depth of character to the arrangement.
I spotted a beautiful woven magazine rack in one of your pictures, do you have lots of different baskets and woven pieces in your home? What draws you to them?
I seem to have developed a particular thing for rattan in recent years, I’ve always loved the beauty of natural wooden furniture and more recently the artistry of seeing what someone can create by moulding and twisting it further.
If I’m honest, I think I would have loved living in the peace loving, bohemian 1970’s. I guess my growing rattan obsession is an extension of that.
Finding special pieces like that little magazine rack, a beautiful basket or my peacock chair fill me with joy. They draw me in and make me wonder not only who once owned it before me, but even further back to who and where was it made. Each piece holds a story of it’s own and now I am part of it’s legacy too.
My father had a full sized weaving loom in our home and growing up I was constantly surrounded by his beautiful woven creations, and at least one or two of his tapestries on the go. On reflection, without even realising it, I was schooled in the dedication and artisanship of creating unique and individual pieces that were not only beautiful, but were made with such devotion. He has definitely passed on his joy, passion and respect for creativity to me.
What an incredible thing to grow up with. Where do you shop for your interior items now? Has it changed much over the last year?
I’m a huge supporter of independent stores and creative entrepreneurs.
As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to buy preloved interiors, but I have been known (when it was possible) to frequently pop into the many wonderful independent interior stores we have here in Northern Ireland and further afield. It’s always so inspirational to see how they have curated their aesthetics through colour, texture and inspiring pieces. It’s also very hard not to walk out again with buying a gift or a little treat for myself.
I have bought a few interior pieces online over the last year courtesy of eBay. I had been looking for some large floor rugs in my local charity shops previously and hadn’t really thought about eBay before. It’s been a delightful surprise and saved me having to squeeze them in and out of my car.
I have to be honest and say though that I’ve actually enjoyed the restriction of not being able to purchase things so easily. In an old house like this one, it’s been easy over the years to pack things in boxes and store them out of the way. Over this last year it’s been particularly nice to be reunited with old preloved items of my own, and think of new ways of styling them again.
You mention a lot on Instagram that you love to re-arrange and move things around in your home. I guess that's the beauty of having your own space. Do you have a process when it comes to deciding where things should go?
I’m not sure exactly what it is but I’ve always loved styling things as if I lived in some sort of showroom. Playing with different layouts and changing the way a room functions or feels has always been fun.
As a teenager I was always dragging my bed across the room trying it out what it “felt like” on a different side, or facing a different way. Not much has changed. I don’t have a method as such, it’s just more of a sense or feeling that I’m going for.
What's your number one interior styling tip for beginners wanting to switch up their space and find their style?
Start with one or two pieces that you really like and build out/curate your vibe from there.
A special vase, a picture or a small piece of furniture that you really like is a great way of starting. Ask yourself what else might go with it?
Take a look on Pinterest, in magazines and see how others have incorporated it into their own style, take inspiration but don’t get too caught up in trying to exactly replicate. And of course don’t procrastinate, start and you’ll find yourself adding pieces in naturally.
Sometimes it all comes together super quick and other times you have to try something out to know if it really does or doesn’t feel right in your home. For me, styling up spaces is experimental, gradual and fun.
Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Renie. We'll be keeping up with your beautiful Instagram,
@agraylife, and seeing if we spot any more baskets!