It’s Possible: Home Design on a Budget

Grace Moslares, with decades of experience in interior design, helps homeowners find their style without going over budget. By Bubbles Salvador

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Grace Moslares; her designs are characterized by the use of Filipino elements

When you ask interior designer Grace Moslares to walk you through a home that she designed, don’t expect a brief description. Grace’s words just flow effortlessly, especially because she is talking about something she is truly passionate about: interior design.

Her bubbly character is a delight, her laughter almost contagious, and her remarkable ability to translate a homeowner’s personal story into unique living spaces is impressive. For someone who took up interior design in college only by chance (“I was a last-minute enrollee and that was the only course that was still open,” she says), it has been an amazing 19-year journey.

Grace was so taken by the intricacies of interior design that ten years ago, she put up her very own firm, Magara Designs. “My signature style is Pinoy eclectic-comfort,” she says. Grace injects color as accents to a space, and loves combining the old and the new so spaces would have that “lived-in” feel.

So it wouldn’t be strange to see in Grace’s projects a wall with larger-than-life, bright-colored chevron patterns; nor would it be unusual to find a bar counter fashioned from a vintage Pinoy ice cream cart in the home of a sorbetero. What inspires her are her everyday experiences, homes that she has visited, and the books she reads.

An accent wall with chevron patterns makes a statement in this vacation home.

Through the many beautiful home interiors Grace has designed, and the makeovers she has so ingeniously led, all of which make her extremely proud, she is also delighted by how she is able to create spaces that are better in implementation than on paper.

“It’s important for me to meet clients’ expectations and satisfy their needs while staying within their budget,” Grace shares.

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Finding style

Broaching the subject of the budget can be tricky, as far as homeowners are concerned. Do I have enough? Am I willing to spend all this money to make my home beautiful?

It’s perfectly normal to have these thoughts, so it’s important to work with a design professional you are comfortable sharing your budget with. As far as Grace is concerned, the budget is an integral part of initial discussions with a homeowner.

“First, I ask for a homeowner’s wish list. I also ask for their ready budget, so that whatever I put into the design is achievable on their part. I am very transparent to them if the budget is feasible for their wish list or not,” describes Grace.

While some homeowners come to Grace armed with a Pinterest board of style pegs or a clear book file with magazine tear sheets, there are others who have yet to discover their own style. In dealing with the latter, Grace conducts a typical getting-to-know-you session. Seemingly mundane questions such as their favorite color, what clothes they normally wear, what’s inside their closet, and the restaurant they frequent the most, help Grace get a grasp of their lifestyle.

“This is extremely helpful in creating an ambiance that suits their comfort and needs,” adds Grace.

Based on what Grace gathers about a homeowner, she shares photos of the homes that she has worked on. These help a homeowner visualize his or her style, and also determine their preferences. Grace would simply remind the homeowner, “Each home should be unique and personal since it would always vary depending on their personal needs and wants.”

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Staying on budget

Grace emphasizes, “Style is not a matter of price; it’s a matter of taste.” As such, Grace is forthright when a homeowner’s budget does not fit with the wish list he or she has created.

“I advise them to save up for what they want—and not settle for what they can afford for now. They can always renovate anytime if their budget is already enough,” adds Grace.

When that time comes, Grace makes it a point to tell a homeowner where to invest heavily: the beds, since this is where one rests, and the dining set, where the whole family normally gathers around.

“Identify what you need first before splurging on anything. Your designer would let you know all the sources that would fit the budget you have,” Grace advises.

Also, because Grace has a keen eye for existing home items that can be transformed into extraordinary things through simple refurbishing, she helps homeowners cut design costs.

“Hiring a design professional for your home is your ticket to managing the budget you have for what you need. The number one requirement is trust. Trust the designer you hired because that is the person who is going to help you achieve the home of your dreams,” concludes Grace.

To contact Magara Designs, you can visit their Facebook page or leave them a comment in Instagram @magaradesigns. All photos courtesy of Grace Moslares