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Designer duo has room to show off

A Costa Mesa interior design firm is having an open house Thursday.

January 07, 2011|By Sarah Peters, sarah.peters@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — Rona Graf, an interior designer whose contemporary style is behind the highly popular Men's Billabong suite at La Casa del Camino Hotel in Laguna Beach, will open her first design studio to the public next week.

Grace Blu Designs Inc. is a partnership between Graf and Stephanie Fryer, a kitchen and bath design specialist who joined the company last year. The two women met while attending classes at Newport Beach's Interior Designers Institute.

Grace Blu Designs was launched about four years ago. Since then, Graf has had high-profile projects such as designing a room for the Casa Surf Project in 2009. Next week marks the founding of her first client-friendly studio and showroom.

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Graf and Fryer, along with several local merchants involved in past Grace Blu projects, will be available to talk to visitors at the open house from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at 350 E. 17th St., Suite 118.

Self-described as down-to-earth designers, the duo has enlisted the help of local merchants and vendors to turn their 425-square-foot studio into a showcase of different design elements and remodeling possibilities.

Much like an art gallery, each room in the studio has a unique or contemporary design element, such as wallpaper created from compressed minerals and gold leafing, reclaimed wood cabinets and a natural marble sink buffed clean of the traditional high-shine polish.

"I firmly believe that your environment affects your psyche," Graf said, adding that "you want someone to walk into their house and feel like it's home. It should be an extension of their personality."

While Grace Blue Designs is a full-service firm with the training to plan a project from the foundations up, Graf said it's very popular in today's economy to look for ways to refresh a room rather than a complete remodel.

For several clients, they've used the help of local merchants to breathe new life into old furniture by reupholstering or reframing old family photos.

"We're really open to whatever the client wants," Fryer said. "And sometimes clients have really great pieces."

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