Looking for gift ideas for anyone with an eye for beautiful interiors? Check out the first book by notable interior designer Meg Braff, a Mississippi-born, Long Island-based designer who’s known for chic timeless style. Braff visited Dallas recently, presenting a program for the Dallas Woman’s Club on her modern take on traditional design fusing bold colors, rich patterns, and incorporating antique pieces with up-to-the minute furnishings. The hallmark of the the mother of four young boys is home design that is pretty and polished but welcoming and livable.
Charlotte Moss wrote the forward to Braff’s book – that says it all. We caught up with Braff at a book-signing at a private home following her appearance at the Dallas Woman’s Club for a Q&A:
CandysDirt.com: How did you get your start?
Braff: Growing up I always had a interest in design, and while I was in college I made it my mission to freshen up my childhood home. My mother was my first client, which was a great way to experiment and get my feet wet. After that first design experience I decided to move to New York to study interior design at Parsons. From there I worked for a few designers in New York before starting out on my own in 1994.
CD: How would you describe your style?
Braff: An exuberant, youthful take on traditional design. I strive to create livable spaces imbued with playful glamour and a modern perspective. I am a proponent of color, and love to employ a mix of antique and modern pieces into my rooms.
CD: How do you start to select a palette when you work with a client?
Braff: During my first conversations a new client I try to get a handle on what they enjoy and respond to, and certainly what they do not. Some clients have a clear color directive, while others have more of a feeling in mind. And then there are wonderful clients who put their faith in me and let me propose colors and patterns that I find interesting.
CD: Other than white or black, do you have a go-to color favorite?
Braff: I do think blue is a color you cannot go wrong with and will stand the test of time. Blue evokes the sea and the sky, and takes on a neutral quality that works well with so many other colors. I don’t have a favorite blue — I am always changing things up and thinking of new ways to use shades of blue.
CD: You mix traditional with modern elements. Do you have some tips on that?
Braff: Mixing furniture from different eras can be tricky; a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to scale. For instance, I might mix regency chairs with a Louis XIV sofa and some chinoiserie side tables. As long as they work together scale-wise, a mix is most often successful.
CD: With the swing to modern style in recent years, antique markets have suffered. It’s a good time to shop estate sales and antique fairs from that standpoint. What do you look for? What items are timeless?
Braff: I love to shop at auction and at antique and estate sales. Treasures abound! In terms of “brown wood furniture” which has somewhat fallen out of favor, I’m always on the lookout for English pieces, specifically George III, Regency furniture, and Louis XIV pieces, which I find to have a slender scale that mixes well with pieces from different eras.
CD: You purchased Philip Graf’s archive of wallpaper and are revamping the designs to modernize them. Would you say wallpaper is coming back? Where do you think its use most effective?
Braff: I love wallpaper! Its the quickest and easiest way to add instant style and drama to a room. In my mind, wallpaper is and and will always be in style. Any room can benefit from wallpaper, however, rooms with imperfect or awkward architecture are often the biggest beneficiaries — the paper distracts the eye from flaws and becomes the focus. I also love to use paper in small rooms — powder rooms, butlers pantries, even closets. Its such a nice surprise to enter what might be a forgotten or pass-through space and see a fun print.
CD: You and your husband have four young sons. How do you balance designing a home to be both beautiful and kid friendly?
Braff: Well the furniture was certainly fiber-sealed! I also have a dog, and I try to keep up with a regular professional cleaning, but also I mostly use materials which can be cleaned.
CD: What’s the essence of good design in a home?
Braff: In addition to being beautiful, a home needs to be a place of respite and relaxation that brings joy to its inhabitants. A well-planned home with distinct entertaining and private areas is wonderful, and I love thinking about functionality and how I might want to live in a given house.
Braff’s coffee-table-pretty, 240-page new book, The Decorated Home: Living with Style and Joy with Brooke Showell Kasir ($45) features lavish photography overseen by principal by photographer Josh Gibson and is available through area book stores or Amazon.com. Autographed copies are available through her website.