The Immmortal Dorothy Draper

Shown in this stunning photograph, the lobby of the Greenbrier Resort, in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, is without a doubt an eye-popping, drop-dead gorgeous space. Originally designed by decorating maverick Dorothy Draper and later renovated faithfully by her protege and heir to her business, Carlton Varney, the Greenbrier is a testament to the fact that the best designs happen outside the box. Here we also see how good taste, whether conventional in its time or not, does not die.
Draper's style is oft called Modern Baroque, largely due to the fact that key ingredients to her designs were elaborate plaster moldings juxtaposed against simpler furniture forms. Her use of color was flamboyant and she was a great proponent of employing vivid graphic design to articulate space and provide a more robust overall aesthetic. Black and white checkered floors, shown above, were one of her staples, but she also was fond of crisp polka dots, often in exaggerated scale, and riotous floral textiles. A closer inspection of the photo above reveals the cabbage rose chintz that was her signature, used here on the treatments of the Palladium windows. While not this designers favorite material, one admires Draper's confidence in pairing it with the cleaner and more refined fabrics of her upholstery.
After decades of dusty and predictable interiors, one can only imagine how exhilarating Dorothy Draper's interiors must have been to the first eyes to behold them. Here was a style that really spoke to the new energy and optimism of the twentieth century. Her aesthetic is so integral a part of today's concept of cheerful good taste that one sees the bastardly offspring of it in all areas of design, but still the original cannot be beat. Here's to a bit of Draper's ageless confidence in every life!


  1. love the colors and the floor, the palm trees...not so it a "Boca Raton Baroque" feel.

  2. LOVE that photo

  3. Christi WillinghamAugust 26, 2009 at 2:17 PM

    love the colors and the floor, the palm trees...not so it a "Boca Raton Baroque" feel.

  4. If a lamp jumps out at me, is also functional, then I will consider it. I have one very old wooden standard lamp, attractive in a certain setting but no longer suiting the new decor of the space it was in, nor the required purpose. it has been relegated to storage.

    I haven't the heart to entirely relinquish the standard lamp as it has memories attached to it.

    My craft work lamp - very anglepoise - looms over my P.C now. It merges nicely with the setting and the general mess of my study. It also does a good soft illuminating job when I need it to.

    Horses for courses, I guess you could say.

  5. To each purpose a tool and to each tool, a light be guiding. Thanks, ZACL.