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Posts Tagged ‘Dorothy Draper’

Triumph of the Will

February 10, 2014 | by

Dorothy Draper at MCNY

Some years ago, the Museum of the City of New York mounted a fantastic show devoted to the work of the decorator and entertainment doyenne Dorothy Draper. Draper’s two books, Entertaining is Fun! and Decorating is Fun!, have been rereleased with the original splashy covers, and the firm of Carleton Varney, Inc. continues to use Draper’s exuberant prints and insouciant style. The museum had done up several rooms with Draper’s signature oversized roses, and replicated the decor of West Virginia’s famous Greenbrier resort, which Draper refurbished in the 1940s. The effect was determinedly cheerful and pretty darn fabulous.


Museum of the City of New York

The books are arresting, too: between bits of absolutely authoritative advice on color, proportion, and élan (presented with the assurance of many generations in New York high society) Mrs. Draper presents the reader with “case histories” of “A Lady Who Thought Formality Meant Fuss” or “A Young Man Who Understood Women” or “A Lady Who Gave Herself a Party Instead of a Pill.” Read More »

A Week in Culture: Sadie Stein, Editor

November 14, 2011 | by


4:00 A.M. I can’t sleep. Because I just moved from Brooklyn into Manhattan, my books aren’t unpacked, and so my reading options are limited. The only books I have handy are on decorating—although it’s usually a pretty theoretical study in my case. The pattern of the boards on the floor of this new apartment reminds me of floors I saw in Kraków when I visited there with my father, and I’ve decided rather grandly to do a sort of prewar Eastern European motif. (Again, this is probably theoretical. ) Wonder vaguely where one would find a tiled stove in New York.

I read a few chapters of the inimitable Dorothy Draper’s Decorating Is Fun!, which is filled with gems like “It is just as disastrous to have the wrong accessories in your room as it is to wear sport shoes with an evening dress,” as well as the somewhat less helpful “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.” (That said, I’m guessing Alexa Chung or someone is wearing sports shoes with an evening dress as we speak, and probably causing a sensation. Imagine a world with rules and dicta. The mind boggles.)

5:30 A.M. Finally manage to drift off for a few hours, until a handyman unexpectedly knocks at the door at 7:45 to wash the windows. It occurs to me that this is just the sort of dubious ruse a murderer or thief might use to gain entrance to someone’s apartment; let him in anyway.

9:00 A.M. I pass an angry-looking gentleman on the way to the subway.
“Hello,” I say.
“Bloomingdales, Bloomingdales!” he shouts.

3:53 P.M. I get some sad family news. Internet is in and out here, but in a good moment, I find my favorite Barbara Pym quote: “The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things ... the trivial pleasure like cooking, one’s home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.”

4:45 P.M. My old boyfriend e-mails me about a recent fight he got into at a dinner party, over collective nouns. “I was quite put out, let me tell you,” he says. Read More »