Designer Meg Braff is all about the South Florida lifestyle. She has a passion for color, a thing for palm trees and a weakness for rattan and bamboo. So she was the obvious choice for a Manhattan family relocating to Vero Beach and looking to give their new home a sunny, cheerful vibe. “They wanted it to really feel like they were living in Florida,” Braff says. “I love the look of Florida. I find the architecture interesting and the landscape is so lush and green.”
Situated on a barrier island, with its backyard facing an inlet off the Indian River, the clients’ house proved an ideal setting for Braff’s tropical touch. The two-story Bermuda Colonial-style structure boasts pecky cypress-beamed ceilings, elegant millwork and floor-to-ceiling windows. But before the designer could work her colorful magic, she had to team up with general contractor Darwyn A. Jones to eliminate dark-wood accents and reorganize spaces on the first floor, which included creating a dining room from an existing guest room. To enhance the home’s indoor- outdoor connection, the team enclosed the loggia with a screen system and, in the new dining space, installed French doors that open to the garden. “There’s a small fountain outside with frogs and lily pads–it’s very tranquil,” Jones says. Now the owners can see out to the water, Braff explains. “We expanded the view, opened the space and created a little more interest,” she says.
The changes resulted in an airy backdrop for a profusion of color and pattern. Inspired by the property’s surroundings, Braff employed a palette of vibrant tones: sky blue, leafy green and garden hues like lemon, coral and pistachio. None of the rooms is the same, yet the designer was careful to ensure the kaleidoscopic combination is never chaotic. “There’s a pretty consistent color saturation,” she explains. “A thread of color takes you from room to room.”
The scheme begins subtly in spaces like the family room. Refreshing blue and green appear on the sofas and armchairs, yet Braff kept the walls cream and windows drapery-free to focus attention on the water view. The same idea continues in the dining room, where white furnishings pair with a warm wood-toned wallcovering and iron palm trees stand sentry near blue palm-print draperies. “It’s a double palm-tree moment,” the designer muses.
When contemplating patterns she’d use throughout the house, Braff looked to exuberant prints of fronds and florals that evoke a midcentury Palm Beach vibe. “The fabrics and colors take me right back to my mother,” the wife says. “Meg ignites classic styles from the 1950s and beyond and freshens them up.” The designer deliberately emphasized pattern in spaces that lack a water view and required more interest or charm–such as the green and turquoise banana leaf-clad stairwell. The dynamic wallpaper print flows to the upstairs landing, which Braff turned into a media-game room for the daughter. “There’s energy going on there,” the wife says. “It makes you feel happy to be here.”
Amid the pattern play, Braff incorporated woven accents through seating, lighting and rugs as a unifying component. “I like elements that give a room more of an organic quality and make everything come together, like jute, wicker, rattan or bamboo,” she says. “It’s chic and can take the edge off all the formality.”
Just as the home’s lively interior design embraces the clients’ newly adopted environs, the project’s combination of tropical prints, sunny hues and natural textures reflects Braff’s penchant for the area. “This house represents a lot of my favorite colors,” she says. “My color sensibility really works in Florida. I find it very uplifting to be here.”