Raleigh Now Spotlight: The Gray House


Colorful coziness at The Gray House

by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Kat Dela Cruz

There’s no place like home for Sheri Outlaw. “There’s a lot going on here,” she says of the 1920s house near N.C. State that originally belonged to her great-grandparents. These days, it has a decidedly modern flair: dining room chairs are painted aqua, an accent wall is chartreuse, the lounge features a baby grand piano and hot pink curtains. She’s also got a modern spin on entertaining: Much of her home is available to rent as a venue for small gatherings. “You can come and, well, make yourself at home!”

The Gray House, as Outlaw calls her venue, is actually white, but Gray is an old family name. For the past decade, Outlaw has helped friends throw parties in their own homes via her small word-of-mouth catering company, Swank Soirees, and often served as hostess herself. Lately, she’s also kept a nearly constant calendar of Airbnb guests. The online lodging marketplace has introduced her house to photographers seeking photo shoot loctions. The pieces all came together when a bride Outlaw was working with needed a place to get ready before her wedding. Outlaw realized she could offer that, too. “Once you walk in the door, I can do your flowers, I can provide my catering. It’s full service.”

In some ways, that’s nothing new. The Gray House was built on entertaining, Outlaw says. “My great grandmother loved to entertain, and so did my grandmother. They would have huge parties here.” Outlaw is focused on renting to groups of 50 or less, and providing a comfortable alternative to restaurants or corporate event spaces. “I want to use my whole house in all different kinds of fun and interesting ways. I love having people in and out all the time. I feed off of that energy. … And I always have a reason for homemade scones and dessert.”

Instagram: @thegrayhouseraleigh