Regency Decorating: Dorothy Draper Style


Designer Dorothy Draper  The Greenbrier Hotel

Born into wealth, Dorothy Draper was the first woman to establish an interior design firm in 1923, when a woman going to business by herself was considered risky as well as socially uncommon.

Drapers confidence, and unique style gave her an ability to step out of the common historical designs of her time, and run ahead of designers of her time because she didn’t feel pressured to conform. Her confidence allowed her to make the right decisions every time- “if it looks right, it is right”.

Draper designed for the very wealthy society figures. But that was not all, she had commercial business knocking on her door as well. She often custom designed for hotels, restaurants, theaters, department stores, commercial establishments, corporate offices. She designed furniture for Ficks Reed, Heritage, as well as a many fabric lines for Schumacher. Above that, she offered decorating advice to the every day reader Good Housekeeping Magazine.

-Dorothy Draper used white and glossy black on furniture and decor.

-Dorothy Draper used vibrant colors where many didn’t have the guts to go. She populized new colors and never-seen-before- color combinations.

-Dorothy Draper was known for using bold stripes

-Dorothy Draper used ornate plaster designs moldings, and picture frames often in Baroque style.

-Dorothy Draper was known for her black and white checkered floors

-Dorothy Draper used massive, paneled, lacquered doors. Massive hardware on doors.

-Dorothy Draper used elaborate plaster or intricate mirror frames

Her extensive travel in Europe added something new and fresh to American design. Her style was shockingly bold, and to many considerd gaudy as she infused much of the European baroque styles in her designs. While some considered her designs over-the-top, others adored her style. She was known for reinventing baroque by painting heavy plaster moldings with bright whites and powerful colors. She used vibrant, “splashy” colors that showcased an array of pastels such as turquoise, baby blues, and pink which hadn’t been used in a professional setting before.

Her husband happened to be the doctor of the President of the United States at that time, which opened the doors for her. She was hired to redecorate New York’s Hotel Carlyle, and over the years she makeover New York’s Hampshire House, World’s Fair Terrace Club, and Maison Coty; Chicago’s Drake Hotel’s Camelia House, Washington’s Mayflower Hotel; and Hollywood’s Arrowhead Springs Hotel; West Virginia’s Greenbrier.

Today her furniture is as fresh as it was back then. Her black polished chest for Heritage’s España Collection was revived when it was seen on Sex and the City in the scene of the movie editor’s office. The black Dorothy Draper chest has three drawers with three brass ring drawer pulls. The chest is typically seen with a high polish lacquer, but also has been seen in white, green and red. Dorothy Draper originally designed these chests to be used as room dividers. The chest has been shown on page 178 in “In the Pink,” by Carleton Varney.

Restoration Hardware’s Martine Regency Furniture Collection

Restoration Hardware as been the fore-runner of reproduction furniture. They seem to bring forth the best classic vintage and antique furniture that are historically the best designs, but rare to find genuinely authentic.

Regency furniture style was all about the glamor and decadence. Tables featured high polished wood, chairs had clean edges and everlasting upholstery. Inspired by Regency Furniture, the Martine Collection by Restoration Hardware is chic, elegant and very comfortable. The chair features a tufted back and a curved silhouette with lovely tapered legs.

Replication furniture has the advantages of being in mint condition while maintaining the characteristics of the historical models. Regency furniture over time looses its polish, while reproduction furniture, the wood is buffed and polished and has no missing parts or hardware. Restoration Hardware is bringing forth every era of chair that has been popular for years if not centuries. We are so glad they brought back this classic Regency dining chair.

Domicilium Decoratus

Kelly Wearstler is known for bold color choices, antique incorporation’s into modern designs. Her look has been compared to the classic Hollywood Regency designers such as Dorothy Draper. Her mother was a decorator and antiques dealer, her father an engineer. She graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, where she studied interior and graphic design. She moved to Los Angeles hoping to start a movie career only to find her original direction in design and decorating. She eventually opened her design business, Kelly Wearstler Interior Design, or Kwid, in 1995

Real estate developer Brad Korzen, hired her to renovate the interiors of a few of his residential properties. She convinced him to renovate his 40’s era hotel “the Avalon” in Beverly Hills, California. One hotel after another, her colorful theatrical interiors caught attention, and her career took off. The story had a good ending, she married Brad Korzen in 2002.

Domicilium Decoratus

Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style

After the renovations of their Beverly Hills mansion in 2006, she produced a book entitled “Domicilum Decoratus,” featuring photographs of her Beverly Hills mansion, every room having a chapter of its own.

By 2008, Kelly Wearstler was asked to feature as a judge on Bravo’s “Top Design”. She caught media attention on her extravagant outfits, and how stopping hair. She has introduced lines of striking rugs, fabrics and wallpaper, as well as a unique line of gifts for Bergdorf Goodman

Hollywood Regency Dining Tables

Modern Drama is selling a terrific brass Ram Head Dining Table that is a show stopper in any home decorated in the Hollywood Regency style. They have their table listed just below 5,900. The pair of brass ram heads sit elegantly under a thick glass top. In fact, the owner of Jimmy Choo shoes, Tamara Mellon’s opens the doors to her new New York apartment to Harper’s BAZAAR in the Aug 2010 issue. She uses a rams head table as her desk. Check out her stylish Hollywood Regency Homes.

Design Haven always seems to amaze me with their unique collections of vintage furniture. Although they specialize in Mid-Century Modernism, Post-1950, and Italian furniture, you will find lovely french and primitive furnishings as well. It is wonderful to come across a dealer with a great eye for statement furniture. The Hollywood Hollywood Regency carved Wood elephant trunk table is really a remarkable piece to showcase in a home.

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