By Donna Cornelius
Like many young Birmingham professionals, Katherine Bramlett leads a lively existence.
The 26-year-old recently opened her own interior design business, Katherine Bramlett Design, in Mountain Brook Village. She runs for exercise and competes in half-marathons. She grew up riding horses – and still loves riding. The Mountain Brook High School and Vanderbilt University graduate attends Redeemer Community Church in Avondale. And she’s an artist, too.
But when it comes to design, Bramlett said she leans more toward the traditional than the trendy.
“I’m trying to find the balance between the grandmother that I think I am and the 26-year-old that I actually am,” she said with a smile.
Bramlett will share her creative talents at Antiques at The Gardens, set for Oct. 5-8 at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. She’s one of this year’s Tastemakers – architects, interior designers and landscape designers who curate themed areas for showgoers to see.
“I’ve always been interested in homes and architecture,” Bramlett said. “I’ve drawn and painted my whole life. At Vandy, I took a bunch of studio art classes. That cemented my passion for art.”
She said she thought about studying architecture.
“But I love how relational and personal interior design is,” she said. “You get to be around people; it’s cool (to) interact with them.”
Bramlett did internships in college, and after graduating she returned to Birmingham in 2013 to start her first “real job” with Marjorie Johnston & Co.
“It was hard to leave Nashville,” she said. “But it was wonderful to work for someone who had had such a long career and was an established person. Marjorie was so gracious and treated me more like family than like an employee. That experience shaped so much of how I understand business, client relations and design. I learned so much.”
She opened Katherine Bramlett Design at 2839 Culver Road in Mountain Brook in December 2016.
“It’s been such a gift,” she said. “I have wonderful clients here and in places like Nashville and North Carolina. I’ve done lake houses, too.”
Bramlett said her projects are pretty evenly divided between new construction and renovations.
“I like to come into a project early on and work with the architect, if there is one,” she said. “The interior designer is a mediator. She has a grasp on how the client lives but understands the language of the architect and builder. With that team, function and beauty can come together.”
She said she most enjoys projects “when you get a sense of who your clients are and how they live.” Her favorite rooms to design are kitchens; she said she likes the juxtaposition of design elements like color and fabric with hardscapes like cabinets and countertops.
“Kitchens are where people gather. And also, I love to cook,” she said.
She said her mother, Laurie Bramlett, has always had an eye for design, and her father, Dr. Kennie Bramlett, is an artist as well as a physician.
“I’m the oldest of five children,” the young designer said. “Coming from such a big family, home and family have always been important.”
Her background means she’s not bothered by designing rooms for other large clans.
“When it’s a crazy hockey team of people that I’m working with, it’s fine,” she said. “My family had that constant energy, too.”
Bramlett said she still paints but not as much as she did at one time.
“I do shows and sell my work,” she said. “I’ve had a show in Nashville and two shows here in Birmingham.”
She sells through two online sources, an art collective called Well & Wonder and another company, Serena & Lily.
“It’s very simple for me – I just send them a photo of my work,” Bramlett said. “I do mostly acrylic – a little oil. I do abstracts, but they’re often inspired by landscapes.”
This isn’t her first experience with Antiques at The Gardens.
“Marjorie and I worked with designer Cyndy Cantley when Cyndy was a Tastemaker in 2015,” she said. “We helped her style a kitchen. And last year, I was on the committee for the event’s Friday night party.”
Bramlett said she welcomed the opportunity to help support the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
“I grew up going to The Gardens, and my family are members there,” she said.
Bramlett said her own Tastemaker exhibit this year will be a “fresh take on fall.”
“The anchor of the space will be a sofa that I designed with Grant Trick of Design Industry Workroom,” she said. “We’re so lucky to have him in Birmingham. He builds furniture and upholsters. I’m also using a Moroccan rug from Paige Albright Orientals.”
A favorite fabric she’ll show in her space comes from Classic Cloth.
“I tell people that you’ve got to start with something you love,” she said. “Here, it was the fabric. It has birds and vines, and it’s in blush tones. I’m not really a ‘pink person,’ but this is a color that’s clean and crisp. I pulled colors from it to build the rest of the space.”
She said she’s excited about the art she’s chosen for the display. She’s using her own work plus one of Emily Morgan Brown’s pieces.
“She does florals – long, tapestry-like pieces,” Bramlett said.
The space’s back wall will be draped with linen from Rollins Drapery Services.
“The room reflects my style – it’s a mix of old and new,” she said.
Bramlett said she’s happy to be living and working in her home city.
“There’s such a strong design network in Birmingham, so many creative people,” she said. “There’s an emphasis on home design here that you don’t see in other places and so much energy here. It’s very refreshing and makes you want to reinvest yourself in the city.”
For more information about the designer, visit katherinebramlett.com or follow her on social media @katherinebramlett. ❖