Fall Design Market

How to achieve luxurious Simplicity: Interior designer offers five great decorating tips

How to achieve luxurious Simplicity: Designer offers 5 great tips

Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity living room
Symmetrical composition in this Nancy Braithwaite-designed living room creates calm, beauty and balanced harmony. Photo by © Simon Upton/Rizzoli New York
Nancy Braithwaite_author pic
Interior designer Nancy Braithwaite. Photo by © Simon Upton/Rizzoli New York
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 book cover
The cover of the new book, Simplicity. Photo by © Simon Upton/Rizzoli New York
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 study
An example of Nancy Braithwaite's well-researched use of color: Red accents in silk and linen work like dashes of pepper to invigorate the design. Photo by © Simon Upton/Rizzoli New York
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 bath with toads
Robert Kuo's hammered copper toads seem to travel in this bath. Photo by © Simon Upton/Rizzoli New York
Nancy Braithwaite dining room
Shades of green inspired by the antique Zuber wallpaper surround diners in this formal living room by Nancy Braithwaite. Photo by © Simon Upton/Rizzoli New York
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 dining table
This informal dining area is a blend of country, classic and contemporary pieces. Photo by © Simon Upton/Rizzoli New York
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity living room
Nancy Braithwaite_author pic
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 book cover
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 study
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 bath with toads
Nancy Braithwaite dining room
Nancy Braithwaite Simplicity book October 2014 dining table

Achieving luxurious simplicity presents itself as a very complex task, but it should be a lot of fun.

That's the guiding philosophy adopted by noted interior designer Nancy Braithwaite, who after 40-plus years in the business has just published her long-awaited first book, Simplicity.

Braithwaite, along with another design phenom, Robert Couturier, author of Robert Couturier: Designing Paradises, lend their experience and expertise to the discussion  of "The Business of Design" as keynote speakers at The Houston Design Center's Fall Market, which takes place Tuesday and Wednesday. Both design celebrities will discuss the inspirations behind their new books.

Prior to her Houston visit, CultureMap spoke with Braithwaite about the Simplicity of decorating a home, why whimsy is important and five great design tips.

CultureMap: Your style has been described as austere and opulent at the same time. What is this minimalism and how did you learn to achieve it in your interiors?

 "Decorating should be fun. It doesn't has to be serious. You want to do things with interiors, even little things, that make you smile." 

Nancy Braithwaite: It is something that I had always been attracted to, but it took me a while to make it work. And when it did, I liked it. Simplicity is actually very complex. Your eye has to be educated before you can begin to understand what simplicity is. You must not only edit, but you must choose. It does take hard work to accomplish the end product.

CM: What are the elements of design you consider when striving for simplicity?

NB: I'm glad you asked, and people can find out by reading the book! Actually, I have seven disciplines that are applicable to any style, from country to classic to contemporary. Architecture is always the beginning, as it's the sculptural skeleton. Composition comes next, considering very small or very large spaces. Then there's proportion and scale, color, pattern, texture and, of course, craftsmanship.

CM: You also incorporate whimsy into your interiors, especially with fun animal accents.

NB: Oh, you must be talking about my Robert Kuo additions. I discovered his work at a gallery and found it absolutely fascinating and so much fun. You know, decorating should be fun. It doesn't has to be serious. You want to do things with interiors, even little things, that make you smile. Like my Kuo toads. I wanted to place them, large and small, in a bath. My husband said,  "You're not really going to do that, are you?" Well, I did. And I love them!

CM: Would you share with us five decorating tips?

NB: Of course, I'd be happy to.

1. Keep it simple. That is No. 1.

2. Know who you are before you embark on a designing adventure. Take time to see what it is you are after.

3. Find a good designer who will listen and help you make edits and choices as you'd like them.

4. When working with color, always test in the light where you will be using it. Consider it at different times of day and from different angles before you make a decision.

5. Do research. Look through books and magazines. That's well-spent time in your journey. And have fun with it!

The Houston Design Center's Fall Market,  keynote program, presented by Heritage Texas Properties,  is 11 a.m. Tuesday at 7026 Old Katy Road. Call 713.864.2660, ext. 2, to register for the event or any other of the numerous activities scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday.