As the design principal of one of Orange County’s top design firms, Rona Graf has a lot on her plate. Grace Blu Designs has had a roster of beautiful high-end residential and boutique commercial projects since 2007, all of which showcase design that makes a major statement. In Rona’s words? “We specialize in creating timeless Refined Funk spaces.”
Rona grew up loving design thanks to the family business, explaining “I was all but a fixture in my grandmother’s furniture showroom. My first project consisted of me designing my tree houses in which I pulled carpet and fabric samples from [her] design library.” However, the now-established designer began with a different career path in mind, earning her Masters degree and teaching 6th graders for 5 years. And with her passion for design, she had the best designed classroom in the school district. “I realized I had far too much creative energy and drive to create my own business, so I decided to go back to school for interior design,” she says. “After working for a model home firm, I decided to launch Grace Blu Designs. It’s been nothing but a dream come true ever since!”
Today, we’re touring one of her recent projects — a colorful home in Dana Point, CA that totally nails that “refined funk” aesthetic Rona strives for. We’re chatting with the designer to learn more:
Hi Rona! We love this project — it’s so vibrant! What can you tell us about this home?
The house is located in Dana Point, California with a gorgeous ocean view. This home had great bones, with basic traditional details to work with. We just had to integrate our client’s funky and sophisticated style. The clients are a mid-thirties professional couple who own a hip t-shirt manufacturing company. They both enjoy dramatic use of color, a lively space, cool bespoke pieces of furniture, and pieces that are conversation worthy. They love to entertain and wanted us to create their home to act as an extension of their bold personality.
Could you walk us through the space, and tell us a little about what you did?
The main formal living room was to reflect the color of the sea — her favorite color, turquoise. By blending traditional furniture pieces like a white Chesterfield sofa with a brass round cocktail table, and splashes of gold and brass accents throughout, we were able to create this bold modern-pop-traditional feel. The cool white hand sculptural seat was the perfect accent in the room to showcase another cool sculptural element.
The dining room really was the inspiration and focal point of the house. With gorgeous architectural detailing like the coffered ceiling and wainscoting, we had to come up with a creative way to center a statement light fixture since it wasn’t centered over the dining room table and we were limited on options. That is how we designed and came up with the custom arrangement of the gorgeous colorful Niche Modern light pendants that hang strategically to create a beautiful chandelier. The Made Goods dining chairs are made of metal to look like crumpled paper, we added one gold chair off to the side to just add some visual interest.
In the family room, we created a custom dark blue velvet sofa to complement the casual Environment sofa. By adding pops of bold color in the pillows, we made this room sing! The fabulous colorful chevron Missoni fabric was the perfect addition to the grouping of pillows. Another element was the custom chunky glass coffee table that was designed to showcase antiquities and our client’s amazing cocktail table books.
Do you have a favorite moment?
The dining room and the breakfast nook with that gorgeous view is our favorite area in the house! Bold uses of yellow agains the black and white just rock!
We have to say, we love the use of color and pattern, but appreciate that it still feels very polished. How do you bring in so much personality without it feeling cluttered or overbearing?
By hand selecting everything and knowing when to edit, you can create the perfect concoction of just enough color and sophistication! This project was so much fun, because the clients allowed us and trusted us to just bring it!