If color is king, Meg Braff might just be queen, with no exuberant hue out of reach. Can you expect anything less from the designer whose work was described as “Slim Aarons meets Technicolor elegance” by Traditional Home? Coming off the success of her joyfully vibrant room at last year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Palm Beach (more on that below), Braff actually moved to the Florida enclave earlier this year, setting her up for a bright future in the Sunshine State. We spoke with the designer about her show house experience as well as some of her favorites across every category. Read on, and be sure to shop her curation of Chairish favorites to get a taste of her chic, vivid style.
What do you love most about sourcing finds on Chairish?
I love the breadth of items Chairish has on offer, from antique and vintage furniture, accessories and art, to items from contemporary makers and brands. I love being able to search my favorite keywords and find exciting options to give my projects a layered quality.
Are there any particular product categories on Chairish that are your go-to?
I am most often on the hunt for vintage accessories and art, but if I am looking for a piece of furniture in a specific style I search Chairish as well.
What are some favorite items on Chairish right now?
On the Kips Bay Show House in Palm Beach:
What was your favorite part of your show house room?
I loved the immersive effect that our Rainforest wallpaper gave the room. We custom colored the wallpaper and fabrics in the bedroom, closet, and bathroom to coordinate together (and look just as fabulous on their own). We called the room the “Sunrise Jungle” and the colors were eye-catching to say the least. Florida light is bright and strong, and we wanted to go bold to stand up to the light.
What’s the best part of doing a show house?
The camaraderie amongst designers of show house is so special — I had a great time reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. It is wonderful to work on a purely creative project, all while raising money for a fantastic cause. I also loved that my entire office got involved and contributed in some way. It was a great experience for everyone.
When designing a show house room, you do not have a client. What inspired your design choices?
When we decided to participate in Kips Bay Palm Beach, I knew I wanted our room to feel like classic Palm Beach with a twist. There would be no question where you are! I knew I wanted to incorporate some of my wallpapers and fabrics in the room, so we began by custom coloring a whole bunch of strike offs, and we landed with a few patterns that were exciting and looked great together. We also found a photo of twin upholstered parsons canopy beds in a vintage design book and modified that idea for our bed.
Much of the rest of the furniture in the room was borrowed from my antiques shop in Locust Valley. I love having a store — it’s a great excuse to buy everything I love, even I don’t have a spot for them in my home or on a project.
What are important things to remember or to know when designing for a show house?
I think it’s important for a room to have a look that people will remember, to have some interesting elements that can serve to inspire, and to be a reflection of you as a designer. It is an interesting challenge to create a space that is a bit heightened and over the top, without being too far off the deep end. Restraint and editing a big part of designing for a show house.
What design lessons can be learned?
With a show house, time management really is key — once you commit, you have to hit the ground running and just keep moving! Having a great team is important as well. We were lucky enough to work with Livingston Builders for the construction of our room. They were amazingly thorough and organized, and were able to flawlessly complete our bathroom renovation in three weeks, not to mention all the other projects they oversaw.
What do you want people to take away from your interior design?
With this design, I wanted visitors to feel excited, energized, and a bit transported. Interior design really is about helping people improve their lives, to make sure things comfortable and convenient, and bring beauty and joy into every activity you might do in a space.
Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:
I am a huge proponent of wallcoverings, be it an engrossing over-scale print, scenic panels, small scale patterns, or grasscloth textures. Obviously a riotous paper can easily make a statement, but solid color grasscloths and paperbacked raw silks add a feeling of coziness and luxury, especially in rooms lacking in architectural details.
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
Francis Elkins’ “Loop” chair. I have always loved this chair, and have bought vintage versions at auction and new editions inspired by her originals.
Favorite decorating cheap thrill:
Design books are great as a resource and look great as an accessory. Affordable and multi-functional! And you can find great contemporary and vintage design books at almost any thrift shop.
Favorite paint color:
I love the green color that I have in the library of my house in Locust Valley; it’s a medium green, a bit chartreuse by Benjamin Moore called “Vienna Green.” We lacquered the existing paneling and millwork in that color and it is just a great room to be in. My husband actually chose the color— his favorite room at our former house was a sunroom in almost that same color, and he wanted our new house to have a room with a similar feeling.
Favorite piece of decor in your home:
In my living room I have a huge coromandel screen, eight panels and probably 12 feet wide, that I purchased at a local estate sale. It came from a fabulous home decorated by the late, great Mario Buatta. I had the screen in storage for about 12 years before I found the perfect spot for it.
Favorite designer from the past to whom you most often turn for inspiration:
The designer I’m most often and continuously inspired by is Frances Elkins. She was so forward thinking and unique for her time— a mixing antiques and contemporary furniture, and chinoiserie accents, with a great sense of color and style. Her rooms still look great today, and I am always finding something new to admire and interpret into my work.
Favorite hotel whose design you find inspiring:
I absolutely adore the Bahama House in Harbour Island. The hotel has a European flair and was decorated by the fabulous No. 12 Interiors, based in London. This meticulously restored 1800’s British Colonial building has old world charm but with every imaginable modern convenience. These girls know attention to detail and as a hotel, it’s a must stay for every designer. In addition to all the chic decorating eye candy, the food , the cocktails and the service are fabulous!
Design destination every decor lover should visit at least once:
A few months ago I went back to the Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris, after first visiting over 25 years ago when I was in design school at Parsons. It’s an amazing house museum, with a devastating backstory, but staggeringly beautiful nonetheless.
In Newport, I’ve always loved taking friends to various “cottages” which are open to the public thanks to The Preservation Society of Newport County. Even though I have been to some of them more times that I can count, I never tire of revisiting.
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
Many years ago I was visiting with David Easton, whom I barely knew, and he simply said… keep it small and enjoy what you do. If you become too big then you can be so burdened with people that it’s harder to design and be creative. I was 26 at the time and have always taken his wise words to heart.
Favorite vacation destination (when we’re able to go):
Every fall we go to London followed by a weekend with friends at a fabulous country house. It’s always a highlight of the year! My family has also been spending time in Antigua, which I think is the perfect tropical getaway.
Lately I’ve been catching up on Mitchell Owens’ AD Aesthete podcast. The breadth of topics he covers and the expertise of his guests is wonderfully inspiring.
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow:
I love Instagram as a way to virtually keep up with my design friends. Lewis Miller Design’s extraordinary events and Flower Flashes are a site to behold. My dear friend Tom Samet is always on the move and quick to share a new find, an inspiring story or a funny quip, not to mention photos from the past filled with old friends. Billy Ceglia is always great for a laugh, and Charlotte Moss is constantly dazzling Instagram with her decorating ideas and flower arrangements.
Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:
I always have a cache of embroidered cocktail napkins and truffled almonds to give as hostess gifts, and I also send a lot of flowers and orchids as a thank you.
Favorite home scent:
At home I burn Jo Malone’s Lime Basil candles. We keep the shop smelling fresh with a Peony-scented candle, which we also stock. It comes in a chic wicker container which I adore.
Favorite style icon:
On Local Favorites From Palm Beach…
I moved to Palm Beach earlier this year, and definitely enjoyed fun lunches with girlfriends at Sant Ambroeus, and dinners at Buccan and at the new Swifty’s at the Colony Hotel. I also love Grato in West Palm Beach. I’m looking forward to going back when we can.
Any restaurants worth going to just for the design alone?
Favorite hotel to recommend for when friends can visit:
Favorite local attraction:
The gardens at The Society of the Four Arts are magical and I’ve always loved visiting for a bit of quiet contemplation or with visiting friends. The 10 gardens are each themed differently, with an amazing array of plantings, fountains and sculptures of discover.
Favorite flea market / vintage hunting grounds:
I love shopping design and vintage all along the Dixie Highway, at Todd Hase, Blue Moon Antiques, Authentic Provence to name a few. Up in Northwood, Circa Who is a perennial favorite, as is Palm Beach Regency a bit further north. I also love popping in to The Church Mouse thrift shop—you never know what you might find!