Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Visit to the Early Nancy Braithwaite

Atlantan Nancy Braithwaite's design spoke to me 25 years ago - she is why I kept many early magazine issues.  And her design still speaks to me today - her pale walls and ceilings, her spare furnishings and her southern antiques.  Her work was a change for me from the more cluttered, cozy New England rooms I had been admiring.  See if you see what I mean as you browse the following images.

I saved this issue of Early American Life from 1985...

because of the following image of the Braithwaite living room with a white quilt behind an antique sawback table.  Burl bowl atop is perfect.  Everything's perfect here.

Early Nantucket baskets sit atop her pine mantel gleaned from an early Georgian house.

And the three legged table in hallway.  She mixes her plain white walls with beautiful antiques. I loved this mixture then and and still do.  This kind of mixture reminds me of Hugh Newell Jacobsen's design on a Nantucket house.  (See my "Hugh Newell Jacobsen in Nantucket" post - wish I knew how to link it.)

The following images were saved by a friend of mine.  She very graciously gave them to me because she has moved on from Braithwaite's early style, but they serve to clearly show the designer's later change.

Sorry for the folds which have been in place for 25 years.  Note the burl bowl below - same as above -

and the mantel with Nantucket baskets.

We'll see this blue fabric changed to white in a few years.

Daughters referred to in the text below are now married with children of their own.

Always liked her darkish dining room.

But I have never seen many pictures of her kitchen in any early articles.  Guess I must accept that not everyone loves kitchens as much as yours truly does.

Bedroom looks so dated compared to her later bedroom as you will see.  Not loving the green here.

In 1993, things did indeed change.  Her dining room on the cover of House Beautiful looks a bit like a Restoration Hardware room today.  Gone are the wicker chairs and the quilt-covered table we saw above.  Now we see white chairs, a plain table and a very neat chandelier.

Gone is all that blue fabric.  As the caption reads, she really "distilled and pared".

How "today" her living room looks in 1993 with its clean spareness.

Love these interior shutters absent during the blue period.

The wicker chairs seem to have now found their way to the kitchen (still being ignored).  The sitting room almost has a Belgian feel, doesn't it?

To the bedrooms...

I really liked the checkerboard effect in the bedroom below.  Because I liked these walls so much, I "checkerboard-ed" the walls in our mudroom.  (It's probably dated today, but the room retains its checkerboard walls.  I will try to take photos of the room and post them next time along with an anecdote about the day it was painted.)

Nancy Braithwaite had burlap bed hangings.  I sewed a burlap shower curtain.  Dated or not I still like both her hangings and my shower curtain.  The interior shutters are beautiful in this room too.  And the sisal rug is so "today" for 1993.

In 1994, the British edition of House and Garden featured the same rooms but with some interesting additions.  Take a peek.

The now familiar sitting room replete with Nantucket baskets, and same antique sawbuck table used as coffee table.

Again, too brief a view of the kitchen.

Veranda and staircase not seen before.

Included this narrow slice of whole sitting room for its text.

The now familiar bedrooms.

I love her "natural textures"and "muted colors".

And finally, because these magazine editors above chose not to show much of the Braithwaite kitchen, I'll end with two kitchens I have loved chosen from my pinterest board.  Both kitchens seem to have the "muted colors and natural textures" Nancy Braithewaite used years ago.  She was so ahead of her time in many ways. 

And just a quick nod to fruit of the season paired with basic toasted cheese.

Much more of Braithwaite to come and maybe even a Henninger mudroom - so stay tuned.  And stay cool - brutally hot here today.


  1. Billie,
    OMG!!! Nancy Braithwaite her work is fabulous!!! I filed all the pictures you posted!!

  2. Your design archives are great and love your sharing the home of Nancy Braithwaite. Completely fascinating how ahead of her time she was. Her antiques are fantastic Great post!

  3. I have a passion and fondness for early carved mantels. That one is simply divine, and full of flair. Her interiors are so pure yet soulful. Thanks for going way back to 1985, Billie. I was only 13 then, so it is new to me. You are the best!!!

  4. Hi Loi,
    So glad to fill in the gaps from your early childhood. I was just a tad older than 13 in 1985 - well, maybe more than a tad. But good design is always good design and easy to recognize. Nancy Braithwaite is a prime example as is your store and home. Thanks so much for always checking in and more Braithwaite to come.

  5. She so impressed me years ago that I have never forgotten the photos in the Living Better piece. And I love that her look, her sense of style--simple, beautiful earthy colors and textures--have stood the test of time. She is such an inspiration.