For Killeen’s Ciece Gray, interior design has never been a career; rather, it has been a passion that dates back to redecorating her bedroom as a young girl. Following 24 years as a pharmaceutical technician, Gray is turning that passion into a business with Picasa Design – Belton’s newest interior design studio. Located at 202 E. First Ave. in downtown Belton, Picasa Design is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
A family owned and operated business, Gray serves as the curator, while her husband, Travis Gray, does the woodwork, and her daughter, Jade Gray, an artist and photographer, assists with the design aspect.
With over 60 clients, Gray said Picasa Design is dedicated to upholding distinguished customer service and seeks to place the client at the forefront of their designs. That said, two services are offered for those who are design savvy and need a new perspective on his or her project. “Hire a designer for a day” allows Gray to tag along with her clients as they shop for their design space, and “designer on deck” is for the do-it-yourselfer who might need a nudge with their project and can hire Gray for a one-on-one design time slot.
“My thing with Picasa is that I try to get things that are unique and different that you’re not going to see at Ross or Marshall’s or Target, and the reason being is because you always want a statement piece in your home, something that carries on a conversation,” Gray said. “And what I also try to do with my clients is that if I purchase a piece…I’m not going to buy that same piece again.”
This is to prevent someone from having the same piece(s) as others, which is a high priority item on Gray’s design list that began early on in her life.
While Gray lived in Germany with her mother and stepfather on a military post, she spent much of her time redesigning her bedroom with knickknacks she found around their house. In high school, she learned how to sew and drew any chance she got.
When the time came for her to have children of her own, Gray said she took to design as a way to comfort her loved ones. Each time she and her children moved into a new apartment, she would decorate it – from stapling temporary wallpaper to exchanging the light switch plates – so that by the time her children returned from school, they would walk into a completely renovated oasis.
“Every time we were in an apartment, I wanted to make it feel like home; we couldn’t live there if it didn’t feel like a home,” Gray said. “I would change the whole thing, and once we moved out, I would put it all back.”
In August of 2009, Gray decided to open her own interior design business, so she remodeled her home garage in Killeen into a studio and ran the business while also working as a pharmaceutical technician.
“I have a corner home, and I converted my garage into the little design studio,” Gray said.
With half the space she has in downtown Belton, Gray offered the same services she does now. From interior to commercial design, Picasa Design offers consults, floor and wall coverings, plank accent walls, redesign, furniture, lighting, home décor, custom pillows, re-upholstery, art and holiday/seasonal décor.
Ten years later, in November of 2019, Gray stumbled upon Leila Valchar’s, Owner of My Giving Tree Gift Shop & Art Gallery, post about the space availability online, and it was the community of Belton that swayed her decision to construct a storefront in this town.
“I love Belton; I love it because it’s peaceful; I love the atmosphere; I love the people; they’re friendly,” Gray said. “Now that I’m older, I told my husband ‘we might have to sell the house and just come here.’”