My friend Pia Murphy from Pillars Design is guest posting today! An alumna of Christie’s and Sotheby’s, Pia also had the pleasure of interning with Meg Braff and participating in a photoshoot Meg conducted for House Beautiful. The experience further enhanced Pia’s love of interior design, and today you can find the fellow design enthusiast blogging about architecture, history, and design talent on Long Island, NY, her adopted home. Pia’s blog and and Instagram are must reads for me… A talented writer with a keen eye for design, I am thrilled to welcome Pia as she shares an interview with her former boss about her long-awaited first book, The Decorated Home: Living with Style and Joy. Without further ado, I’ll let Pia take it from here!…
Q&A With Meg Braff by Pia Murphy:
When Meg Braff talks about The Decorated Home: Living with Style and Joy, her book which hit stores nationwide yesterday, she uses words like “cheer and excitement” to describe what’s inside. One could also add “chic and glamorous”, and that would get us to the very essence of her work, which has become synonymous with Palm Beach style. In her first book, Braff takes her fans and followers by the hand and shares practical advice and trade secrets, like choosing colors and mixing patterns. Best of all, she shows us, in delightful, colorful detail, the versatility which has propelled her continued success in more than 25 years in the design world. Meg took some time out to talk with me before the avalanche of book signing parties begins!
Q: Your work gives a glimpse of a lifestyle that exudes ease and luxury. What are your favorite techniques to “shake the stuffing” out of traditional and make it feel approachable, current and chic?
A: Traditional design certainly has its merits: comfortable sofas and chairs, practical seating arrangements, lush draperies and elegant accessories that have stood the test of time. If I am utilizing many traditional design elements I will often put down a simple sisal or seagrass rug. They ground the space and help it feel less fussy. I love mixing in simple materials— a touch of lucite or rattan can go a long way in loosening up the vibe.
Deploying vibrant color or pattern (or both!) on sofas or walls is a great way to shake up a typical room. A statement making wall covering can allow for furniture to “pop;” and spirited upholstery can instantly update a sofa from staid to standout. Painting or lacquering vintage furniture is also a great way to give it new life, and add color in an unexpected way.
I try to incorporate antiques and family heirlooms whenever possible. Items that are well loved add depth to a room, and keep contemporary spaces from feeling like everything was purchased the same afternoon.
Q: You hail from Mississippi. I saw on Instagram a quote, “ASAP-As Southern As Possible”! Is this you, and how do you incorporate your southern roots into your work?
A: I do draw on my Southern roots in my work, but more in terms of southern values of gentility and hospitality rather than in decorating style. In designing a space I always keep comfort in mind— be it in choosing the perfect cushion, ensuring there is always place to set down a drink, and welcoming visitors with fresh flowers and something delicious to enjoy.
Q: Charlotte Moss is a friend of yours and writes the foreword of The Decorated Home. What is the creative ‘back and forth” like between you two and can we expect any more collaborations in the future?
A: Charlotte has been a wonderful friend and mentor for many years. We both hail from the South, and take pride in gracious entertaining and the well-lived life. We both obsess over color and pattern, and enjoy a deeply layered tableau. I love discussing historic interiors and designers of the past like Nancy Lancaster and Francis Elkins with her. Charlotte has an amazing eye; her former shop on Lexington Avenue was one of my go-to destinations, and I still cherish the purchases I made there some twenty-five years ago.
Aside from design, Charlotte and I collaborate on the board of The Bone Marrow Foundation, raising funds for and providing assistance to bone marrow, stem cell, and cord blood transplant patients and their families. This has been my most treasured take away from my friendship with Charlotte. It is a bit of a “watch and learn” moment seeing her in her most important role: advocating for those who are not able to help themselves. I have learned a lot from Charlotte and her experiences in this.
Q: Besides coffee and a supportive husband, how do you balance a busy practice, four children (with twins!), a wallpaper and fabric line, your board work for two non-profits, and writing a monthly column for Coastal Living? What do you do to recharge and do you have a favorite place to escape for a weekend?
A: I actually enjoy being busy- I am a natural multi-tasker and would rather be running around and a little frenetic than be waiting for something to happen. To recharge, I practice yoga as often as I can, and try to make a little time each week for lunch or dinner with my girlfriends. Time with my kids is actually great downtime as it is always sports oriented. My home in Locust Valley is in a woodland setting; I often take our dog for long walks through the nearby fields and forests. And during cold northeast winters I love to take weekend jaunts down to my home in Palm Beach.
A life long love of textiles prompted Meg to acquire the Philip Graf archives in 2011. After modernizing the colors and tweaking the scale, she introduced a wallpaper and fabric collection that speaks to her great enthusiasm for color. Snappy and sophisticated, the designs are showcased in her store, Meg Braff Antiques and Decorations, which she also opened in 2011. Located on the main thoroughfare of Locust Valley, New York, the shop serves as her headquarters, as well as a favorite gathering spot in the community for book signings and other design related events. You can see the wallpaper and fabric collection on her website, buy her book here, and be sure to follow her Instagram account @megbraffdesigns. Thank you, Meg, for sharing with us today!
Thank you Pia Murphy for the fabulous guest post. Please follow Pia at Pillars Design!