Transforming drab to fab interiors with Graced Designs

December 9, 2019 Cara Bell

Malia Grace of Graced Designs’ aim is to ‘make the world a more beautiful place, one project at a time’. Her love for interior design and decorating started early; she has always loved watching drab environments transform into life-giving spaces. She stumbled upon her interior design career and has been working on everything from large commercial remodels to sourcing finishes in smaller spaces ever since.

What types of interior projects do you work on?

I love a good challenge so I haven’t boxed myself into any specialized space or style. My projects range from large scale commercial remodels to sourcing finishes for a small restroom. One of my greatest joys in design is the creative challenge so I want to make sure I never lose that. 

I get the most joy when my clients let me have freedom within their project. One of my recent residential projects was a complete overhaul on a Mediterranean style home. My client wanted everything besides their furniture a surprise. It was one of the most fun projects I have done to date. 

A little preview into her Mediterranean-style home project.

What sets you apart from other interior designers that work on similar projects?

There are a few things I do a bit differently from most designers but one that definitely stands out: I have a deep love for the outdoors and I make it my goal in every project to bring elements of the outdoors to the indoors. I always incorporate plants, live preferably, in every space. My biggest example of this was Reedley Executive Center, a historic building in downtown Reedley, California. We used three remarkably large planter boxes in the reception space to divide the seating area from the walkway. I also created what I called “waterfall plant walls” which was shelving on our walls with pathos plants covering the pots and shelving, resulting in a green ‘waterfall’ effect. I believe live greenery is one of the best ways to bring life to a space.

The finished space: Reedly Space Center. Photo credit: David J Orozco

Well, at SketchUp we love our plants they cover our entire office — so we agree that they liven up a space!

What are some challenges you come across in your line of work?

One of the most difficult challenges for me is managing stress during projects. There is a misconception that interior design is 100% fun and play. I find that design is actually 10% fun, 40% boring, and 50% stress. I have had to focus a lot of my time this year into learning how to handle stressful situations on a daily basis. 

What are some design tips you can give readers either just getting started, or trying to streamline their design process?

Don’t make it complicated. Simplify your design process. The simpler you make it for yourself, the happier you and your client will be. 

How does SketchUp support your 2D and 3D design work? 

One of the key ways I love to use SketchUp is for space planning. It is one of the easiest and quickest programs for drawing up a room in 2D and then pulling it up in 3D. This year I really started to love the 3D side of SketchUp. I’ve grown to really love 3D modeling in SketchUp because it helps me to visualize and present my ideas to my clients. They have a better understanding of what their space will be like. Getting client buy-in for furniture isn’t too difficult,  but once you begin construction designs, clients can easily miss your vision. This year I used 3D for a complete remodel on a bakery, a large built-in unit for a client’s home office, a fireplace remodel with 21’ tall add tapered hood, and a home remodel with an entirely new floor plan.

 

I couldn’t have gotten my clients on board with my vision for the spaces without the help of SketchUp!

 

I love the simplicity of SketchUp. While I was getting my bachelor’s degree in interior design, I was trained with a less intuitive program which meant I spent a whole year learning how to draw the outline of a room. It was frustrating and overly complicated. I much prefer the simplicity of SketchUp because I can get things done a lot faster.

SketchUp model of The Cupcake Route: a newly designed business by Malia. 

Yumm...we are craving cupcakes all of a sudden!

What is your SketchUp workflow?

When space planning, I always start with the walls in my rooms, then add any built-in furniture, doors, and windows. After that, I drop my furniture in. If any of my spaces need to be pulled up in 3D I always make a copy of the floor plan and pull up my plans. I also use SketchUp for custom cabinets. When modeling these, I always start with the outline and make my way inward. 

Do you use any extensions?

It’s not an extension, but I love LayOut. The ease of the “sending my models” to LayOut for a professional, uniform, and to-scale printable version of my plans is exactly what I need for my business. 

Utilizing LayOut to help showoff designs in a professional (and uniform) 2D version.

Favorite SketchUp command?

My favorite SketchUp command is ‘L’ for the ‘Line’ tool. Every single one of my designs starts with a single line, and that line takes shape into a beautiful space. 

Can’t get enough of her designs? Check out her Instagram page for some serious inspo.




 

 

 

About the Author

Cara Bell

When she's not writing copy or learning about customer workflows, you can find her on top of a 14,000 ft mountain, hitting up those Colorado ski slopes, or binging Netflix shows on her couch.

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