Advice from Interior Design Legends: Dorothy Draper

I’ve always loved quotes/quotations — I’ve been collecting them in notebooks since I was in 5th grade when my English teacher would write a new one on the board every day before class.  I also love passing along this habit to good friends as well and I often give friends notebooks with a few of my own favorites to get them started.  Since starting my career in design, I’ve started keeping notebooks full of inspiring words and advice from my favorite designers and decorators.  I hope the words of these legends inspire you as much as they do me!  I’ve chosen to start this series off with a personal favorite, Dorothy Draper.


photo: Dorothy Draper & Co.

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 {on the importance of color}

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

I’ll always put in one controversial item, it makes people talk.

-Dorothy Draper

Don’t buy a bedroom suite, but collect your pieces separately -
generally cheaper and always the decorator’s way of furnishing. 

- Dorothy Draper,
Ideas You’d Pay a Decorator For {Good Housekeeping}

Even in a
formal dining room you don’t want to be ponderous or gloomy. Eating is
really one of your indoor sports. You play three times a day, and it’s
well worthwhile to make the game as pleasant as possible.

- Dorothy Draper,
Decorating is Fun!

Mirrors have come to mean much more than the original ‘looking glass.’
They are now a part of the decorative scheme of a modern home. By using
them, there are no dark, gloomy corners, no drab caverns for halls.
There can be a feeling of freedom, light, air, space.
-Dorothy Draper,
Seventy-Seven Recipes for Mirrors in Today’s Living

I always
think out a problem as clearly as possible, and then act on it. My
theory has always been to get started. The moment I get an idea I act
upon it. If only people would act on more of their ideas, I am
convinced they would lead more interesting lives.

-Dorothy Draper,
Christian Science Monitor

(1) an intelligent analysis of the
problem (2) how to put it into production as economically as possible
with emphasis on function, and (3) a sense of good showmanship, the
capacity for seeing things as a picture.

- Dorothy Draper,
Newsday {on her approach to each project}


photo: The New York Times


Above are pictures of the “Dorotheum,” a Dorothy Draper-designed restaurant in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  The space now houses the re-designed Greek and Roman sculpture wing.  The NY Times wrote a wonderful piece about the new sculpture galleries in April 2007.  I highly recommend a trip to the Greek and Roman sculpture wing if you are ever in NYC — it would be especially nice on a freezing day like today!  Brrrrrr.