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“I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right.”

-Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper (1889-1696) is another of my very favorite influential decorators who very much designed interiors with the words of this famous quote in mind! Although she was born in 1889 into a family of wealth and privilege, she and her innovative designs certainly shattered all stereotypes of “the expected”  during that time. In 1923, Dorothy Draper professionalized the decorating business by establishing the first interior design company in the United States. In addition to revolutionizing the interior design  industry, she was also a pioneer of her time as a rare female business owner.

A popular book of Dorothy’s work is called In The Pink and can be purchased at Amazon.

Dorothy Draper’s first fabulous book, Decorating Is Fun, is also available for purchase by clicking HERE.

Dorothy Draper  broke away from the “period rooms” being created by most decorators of her time. Instead, she believed in the power and beauty of vibrant and “splashy” colors in  luxury interior design. She often put together unusual color combinations, such as such as aubergine and pink with a touch of chartreuse and turquoise. She combined “shiny” colors with matte finishes to create visual interest and contrast.

“The Drab Age is over. Color is coming into its own again. Until very recently people were literally scared out of their wits by color. Perhaps this was a hangover from our Puritan ancestors. But whatever the reason, brown, grays and neutrals were the only shades considered ‘safe.’ Now we know that lovely, clear colors have a vital effect on our mental happiness. Modern doctors and psychiatrists are convinced of this!” – Dorothy Draper

She focused most of her design efforts on large public spaces, such as hotels. Perhaps, her most famous hotel is the Greenbrier, located in West Virginia. Take a look at the photos of it below.

The lobby at The Greenbrier showcases two of Draper’s trademarks - Black and white (marble) floors and white plaster mantels over the doorway. Also notice the bright and uplifting colors used in conjunction with the black-and-white.

Draper's signature striped walls were very modern at the time.

The bright color choices were typical for Draper's design style.

Furniture pieces such as this one, painted the same color as the walls, were popular Draper selections.

The Crystal Room at the Greenbrier.

Revered in 1961 as "America's most photographed room", Greenbrier's Victorian Writing Room was the hotel's most traditional space.

The Garden Room

Other public spaces that Dorothy was famous for designing are pictured below.

Mark Hopkins Hotel

New York City's Essex Hotel's lobby in 1954

"The Dorotheum", Draper's 1954 concept for the cafeteria at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, featured birdcage chandeliers and a skylighted canopy.

Fireplaces were one of the design elements that Draper loved to focus on. She once said, “I don’t believe anything can do as much for a room as a glowing fire in an attractive fireplace. Men and dogs love an open fire – they show good sense. It is the heart of any room and should be kindled on the slightest provocation.”

The lobby at the Hampshire House. Notice the dramatic molding over the fireplace.

Dorothy also loved – as do I! – adding live greenery and florals to a design space.

“A vase of flowers or greens will bring even a dull hotel room to life in the most delightful way. The small amount of trouble or expense involved is honestly repaid in real decorative effect. If you find cut flowers too extravagant, stick to the greens. Laurel, rhododendron leaves, huckleberry or pine will all last many days, even weeks.” Dorothy Draper

Even Draper's own living room contained fresh flowers.

Dorothy Draper’s name is also synonymous with the invention of “Modern Baroque” style, as is shown below at the Coty salon on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

With all of her innovation in design and zest for life, Dorothy Draper is certainly deserving to be listed among the most influential designers of the ages!

NOW, GO HAVE AN “It’s So Fabulous!” DAY!


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