Interior design quotes from one of the first -- Dorothy Draper


I am heading out on a week long vacation; I want to leave you with these quotes from one of the great interior designers. Read one each day until my return! (Need some sun, going to Scottsdale Camel Back Mountain Spa/Resort.)


Born to a wealthy and privileged family in 1889, in one of the most exclusive communities in American history, Tuxedo Park, Dorothy Draper was the first to “professionalize” the interior design industry by establishing, in 1923, the first interior design company in the United States, something that until then was unheard of, and also at a time when it was considered daring for a woman to go into business for herself.


“It is just as disastrous to have the wrong accessories in your room, as it is to wear sport shoes with an evening dress.”


[On the importance of color] “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!”

“You can never judge a paint hue by the liquid color in the paint pot. You must apply it to a wall, wait for the paint to dry, and then decide.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Never look back, except for an occasional glance, look ahead and plan for the future. Success is not built on past laurels, but rather on a continuous activity. Keep busy searching out new ideas and, experimentally, keep ahead of the times, or at least up with them.”

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

“I started this career because I loved doing houses. I'd done three of my own and I couldn't keep on moving my family all the time, so I decided to decorate other people's homes and buildings.”

“ [There] seems to be within all of us an innate yearning to be lifted momentarily out of our own lives into the realm of charm and make believe.”

“Have you ever stopped to think what fun this business of living can be? If you haven't, and if you are one of those who insist upon believing that life is humdrum, grim and boring, then I'm afraid this department is not for you. For I don't believe any such thing. I know that we can all free ourselves and live our lives fully, zestfully and joyfully!”

“I'll always put in one controversial item, it makes people talk.”

“If you are collector, let other people share your pride and joy. Don't sprinkle your collection out of sight in a meaningless jumble. Notice how groups of small objects, when they are well arranged, become important and effective. Remember that repetition is a form of emphasis. Collect what you will, but see to it that you arrange your hobby to its best advantage.”

“You don't have to know anything about a subject as long as you use common sense and imagination, plus enthusiasm! I use all periods of design in my work, for, after all, decorative styles are simply indications of a manner of living.”

“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not.”

“Too often when we're buying or building a house we do not consider each room. We are carried away by one charming feature and are blind to details that will give us trouble later on.”

“You may concentrate on appearances all through the rest of your house, but in the bedroom comfort should be supreme. I think that bedrooms should also be very intimate rooms-they should express your personal preferences in every way...Of all the rooms in the house your bedroom is yours.”

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

“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.”


“[On marketing using interior design] You don't sell a commodity, you sell joy, gaiety, excitement. You aim at people's hearts, not their minds.”

“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.”

“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.”

Christian Science Monitor [on her approach to each project] (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.
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