Old World Rising
Designer Meg Braff puts a modern spin on 300 YEARS OF DECORATING HISTORY inside her Locust Valley, Long Island, home.
Centuries of storied antiques come together to bridge time and trends in Meg Braff ’s newly renovated Long Island home.
and a lively one at that for Long Island-based designer Meg Braff. Eavesdrop on the vibrant dialogue between rooms of her newly renovated Locust Valley, Long Island, home, and you’ll see why. There’s a whisper of soft apricot across the living room, the tony banter of peacock blue echoing from the butler’s pantry to the kitchen, and the mirthful shout of chartreuse from a not-so-hushed library.
“I love walking from room to room and experiencing how the different tones work together, like they’re all speaking to each other in a beautiful, congenial way,” says Braff, a Mississippi native whose style defaults toward her traditional Southern roots and is often tempered with fearless color.
For 18 years, Braff and her husband, Doug, lived just two miles away. But with their four sons getting older, they were looking for more space and a start to “our next chapter,” she says. This ’60s-era ranch caught their eye largely because of the way it was sited on a generous lot with mature trees. “It backs up to the golf course, which we thought would be fun for the boys, three of whom are serious squash players. They can zip over to the clubhouse to play squash or paddle.”
But lot size and location aside, the home’s curb appeal pretty much stopped at the curb. “This neighborhood has so many charming old-world
houses, and this wasn’t one of them,” notes Braff, who worked with architect Laura Casale on a threeyear transformation of the ranch into a spacious twostory family home. The footprint didn’t drastically change (despite adding 15 feet to the front), but each of the rooms save the library got a complete overhaul. “We loved the scale of the original library and replicated its windows and French doors throughout the first floor,” says Braff. “I found old mantels at auctions and used raised ceilings wherever possible. We wanted it to feel like a house built in the early 1930s, like it had always been here.”
Braff glossed the library’s old panels in a whimsical chartreuse, a color carried over to the chi no is erie inspired dining room. There, apple green silk drapes soften grass cloth walls, adding an air of cheerfulness while still amping up the drama. “I try to be very thoughtful about threading color through the rooms,” says Braff, who, for example, also balances a patterned wallpaper down the first-floor corridor (her own French Blue damask) with soft solids in adjacent rooms. “You need something that gives your eye a break.”
A pair of rooms (living and dining) were combined to create one large formal living room with multiple
“I love walking from room to room and experiencing how the different tones work together, like they’re speaking to each other in a beautiful, congenial way.”
seating areas, where Braff showcases a monumental Coromandel screen behind a sofa, and two chinoiserie panels she’d bought 10 years ago and pulled out of storage. “Those panels contain the palette for the whole house, such beautiful blues, corals, ivories, and greens. It feels rich but not heavy to me,” says the designer, who rarely does white walls and instead favors a Venetian plaster finish to bounce natural light. “It’s a beautiful finish for pastels, and even for bringing in gold details. This room pretty much has all my favorite things—pretty porcelain, a little bit of Asian influence, French and English furniture.”
Though her harmonious melody of antiques and bespoke details defines the rooms, there’s more than one design voice in the Braff household. The boys chimed in with input on colors for their bedrooms. A cozy upstairs family room is their video game room and “hangout central” during the warmer months, but when one of the home’s four fireplaces has a fire going “that’s where we all gravitate,” Braff says.
“The boys have grown up being dragged around auctions, helping me load and unload, so they’ve seen it all. They appreciate the work that goes into this,” she says. “This—a love of beauty—is the core of my being, and I’m so thankful they see it.”
“This room pretty much has all my favorite things— pretty porcelain, a little bit of Asian influence, French and English furniture.”
In the library, Braff played up the natural light and original 1960s paneling by painting the walls bright chartreuse (Vienna Green by Benjamin Moore). Cane-back armchairs, Julian Chichester. Leopard cushion fabric, Brunschwig & Fils.
LOUIS XVI-STYLE GILT MIRROR Its simple, classic lines and thin framing represent the trend of the late 1700s, when exaggerated French flourishes declined in popularity.
COROMANDEL SCREEN Coromandel is a form of 17th-century Chinese lacquerware. Braff found this gem at a local estate once designed by Mario Buatta. Braff with her husband, Doug, in the peacock blue butler’s pantry A vintage sofa in the living room is trimmed in an ebullient 4-inch fringe by Houlès. Upholstery fabric, Zoffany.
The living room club chairs’ floral upholstery is by Lee Jofa. KARL SPRINGER COCKTAIL TABLE The goatskin-lacquered piece is emblematic of its 20th-century designer’s style, which boasted exotic finishes.
MID-20TH-CENTURY LANTERN The plaster-finish lantern features floral vine detailing. “Paired with the trellis wallpaper, it makes you feel like you’re sitting in the garden.” RIGHT: In the sunny breakfast room, a Bernard Thorp botanical-print linen covers a set of Serge Roche-style chairs. Wallpaper, Meg Braff Designs. Trim color, Sweet Daphne by Benjamin Moore.
OPPOSITE: A George III gilt mirror hangs over the mantel in the living room and is flanked by a pair of antique Chinese vases. Slipper chair upholstery, Lee Jofa. Table lamp, Christopher Spitzmiller. Braff (pictured with her son, Douglas) expanded and updated the kitchen with Danby marble counters, a Bluestar double range, and sink fixtures and hardware by Waterworks. Lighting, Vaughan with Belluno hanging shade. Cabinetry paint color, White by Fine Paints of Europe. BELOW:
CHINOISERIE SILK PANELS The 19th-century textiles were purchased at Sotheby’s. It was a “happy accident” that the colors worked so well in the home. Braff collected these Rouge Royale mantels before she began renovating. “The antique stone gives newconstruction rooms a sense of age and authenticity.” MARBLE MANTEL BELGIAN