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