Through their eponymous Denver firm, Brayton Interiors, certified kitchen designer (and interiors genius) Julie Brayton and her business-minded brother, Mark, specialize in designing for each home’s distinctive architecture and history. Here, Julie shares what she learned working for big-name Los Angeles designers, how HGTV ruins our taste, and how to embrace color in your kitchen.

Julie Brayton. Photo by Sarah Banks

5280 Home: We’re dying to know: What was it like working for Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Michael S. Smith?
Julie Brayton: Fantastic…and intense. I learned everything. One of the main things I took away from those jobs—and I still believe this philosophy—is that you don’t have to relegate yourself to a certain style. You approach different projects based on what a client wants, and especially based on the architecture and location, and so long as you employ balance, proportion, and scale, you’ll have a beautiful outcome without being married to one “style.”

Or one Instagram feed.
Yes! A home’s locale and architecture are paramount to how you renovate it. HGTV in particular has ruined our taste and really challenged our industry. Our current [aesthetic] moment pushes a certain sameness that limits clients’ imaginations.

So now you’re pushing boundaries with your own firm, Brayton Interiors. What types of projects do you take on?
We’re doing a lot of kitchen remodels in older homes: Victorian, Edwardian, Craftsman. I really like them because it’s an opportunity to highlight Denver’s original architecture in a way that feels timeless. Our firm pays homage to Denver’s history; we are trying to preserve and enhance the city’s existing architecture.

Tell us about kitchen trends you love.
Trends? No trends. Timelessness is key, especially in response to the home’s architecture. You want the kitchen to feel appropriate [for that context]. I love the jewels of a kitchen: quality materials, excellent hardware and plumbing fixtures, and I’m so glad when homeowners invest in those things because they really elevate a space.

Photo by David Lauer

OK, then, what are some of your favorite sources for kitchen fixtures?
I love reproduction antique lighting from Jamb out of London; they have some of the most gorgeous fixtures that are often just right for these older homes [in Denver]. Urban Electric out of South Carolina has some stunning finishes and different styles derived from historical periods but made a little more current. And for plumbing fixtures, I love Devol’s line. They have beautiful ceramic lighting and hand-cast brass hardware as well.

What do you wish more of us knew about designing our kitchens?
Color, especially in older homes, is something to be embraced. A deep-burgundy cabinet color with a soapstone countertop and lacquered-brass fixtures would be a gorgeous combination and very historically accurate for a late-19th- or early-20th-century home. People think that might be a daring choice, but if designed well, it would balance out in the space. I promise.

This article was originally published in 5280 Home August/September 2021.
Hilary Masell Oswald
Hilary Masell Oswald
As the former editor for two of 5280’s ancillary publications, Hilary Masell Oswald split her time between the vibrant design-and-architecture scene in the metro area for 5280 Home and the always-changing field of health for the annual 5280 Health.