Casual Chic Lake House
Designer Meg Braff shares her trademark formula for making casual look chic at her family’s 1960s Mississippi lake house
Colorful Lake House Getaway
Every summer, Manhattan-based designer Meg Braff’s Southern roots resurface. Meg, along with husband Doug and their four boys, heads south to a 1960s structure on the Tennessee-Mississippi border. Within a couple hours’ drive of Meg’s hometown of Tupelo, the Pickwick Lake house, dubbed “Bikini Point” by Meg’s uncle, has hosted a long string of family memories going back three generations and is still the main gathering place for Meg’s extended family. “I learned to water-ski at Bikini Point,” says Meg. “I want our boys to share those same experiences and my love for the South.”
When it came time to update the home, all family fingers pointed to Meg. “It had truly become a dreary place,” she says. She gave the original structure a face-lift without erasing the home’s period charm and doused the four-bedroom addition with her signature kaleidoscope of color and pattern. Keeping upgrades straightforward and practical, she never lost sight of the home’s purpose. “A lake house should be comfortable and welcoming—a place that puts your mind at ease,” she says.
Great Room Space
Meg worked with the existing mid-century architecture in the main living area. She kept the original brick flooring, refinishing it in a glossy sheen for an updated look. A few coats of white paint transformed dark wood walls with olive green trim from drab to fab. “White paint gets you pretty far,” she says.
Great Room Style
The room’s casual attitude suits carefree lakeside living. Meg slip-covered sofas in a white cotton fabric that’s easily washed with bleach. A zigzag fabric on accent pillows and upholstery pulls blues and greens inside. “This room is connected with its setting, and I wanted a seamless transition between inside and out,” she says. For an airy look, Meg paired the upholstery with a caned West Indies-style settee. “It’s really nice in a vacation home to have a little more floor showing and less fully upholstered furniture,” she says.
Sectional sofa: Versatile Collection; beachley.com.
Sofa slipcover fabric: Canvas (2106) in White; pindler.com.
Green pillows: Hayward Green Apple 18" Pillow; crateandbarrel.com.
Cocktail table: Octagonal Coffee Table in Chocolate Brown Tortoise from the Indochine collection; redegg.com.
Trick of the Trade
Add furniture or accessories that can double as extra seating to accommodate a crowd. Meg outfitted the deep fireplace hearth with custom cushions and added portable woven cubes for seating in a pinch. “We have a really large family,” says Meg. “Gatherings turn into 40 people in no time flat.”
Pillow, dining chair cushion, and bench cushion and pillow fabric: Alan Campbell’s Cap Ferrat (AC103-21); quadrillefabrics.com.
Meg gave ceilings a lift and added height to a series of short casement windows with custom valances and curtains. A neutral wall color sets off the bedroom’s punchy aqua-and-pink color combination.
Trick of the Trade: Downplay the formality of traditional window treatments with layered rugs. A casual woven cotton area rug in a classic plaid breaks up the uniformity of wall-to-wall carpet and makes an informal statement underfoot.
Window treatment, bed skirt, and chair cushion fabric: Garden Party (11001/2) by Tyler Hall (tyler-hall.com).
Rug: Tattersall Pink/White Woven Cotton Rug; dashandalbert.com.
Bedding: custom; janewilnerdesigns.net.
Star pillow: Red Star on White; chandler4corners.com.
Lamp: Double Gourd lamp (A676) in Baby Blue Glazed Ceramic; robertabbey.biz.
Muted reds and blues create a warm, intimate room. Meg enveloped this gathering room with a grass cloth wallcovering and painted it blue for added weight. For an informal look, she mixed motifs and styles without reservation. Stripes and geometric prints balance traditional furniture styles.
Blue-striped chair & fabric: 261 Recliner; beachley.com, for a similar look, try Norris Stripe-Sky Blue; ralphlaurenhome.com for retailers.
Camelback sofa fabric: SeaCloth collection, Facet (SC10049-916); leejofa.com.
Red pillow fabric: Nanou Rockery Cotton Print (79540-166); brunschwig.com.
Wallcovering: 77-TR-109 by Sonia’s Place, available through Design Professionals; 212/759-5408.
Rug: Boardwalk Braid, 100% Jute; meridameridian.com.
Trick of the Trade
Keep the paint on your walls, trim, and paneling monochromatic for cohesion. “Because everything is blue, it’s less distracting. The eye isn’t jumping all over the place,” says Meg. For color relief, she left the ceiling white.