vintage inspiration: dorothy draper book

I am nothing if not a southern girl at my core. I grew up around accents and a slew of women who had decorating (and over the top decorating) coursing through their veins. So the first time I stepped foot inside Dorothy Draper’s Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, I felt like I was in heaven. My parents picked me up from summer camp (which happened to be a few towns over from the Greenbrier), and upon delivering some sad news of a family death, they softened the blow with a surprise overnight stay at the hotel. In addition to being wooed by the indoor movie theater (Inside a hotel? My mind was blown.), it was my first introduction to the design work of Dorothy Draper. I was bowled over by her aggressive use of stripes (is there any other way to use them?) and the perfectly “southern lady” color palette of green and pink. It stuck with me so much that when the hotel cleaned out some old collateral and dishware, I bid (and won!) a stack of old postcards and dishes that I kept for years in New York.

It’s with that spirit of respect and deep admiration that I start today’s Vintage Inspiration. Dorothy Draper wasn’t just a designer; she was also a master entertainer. Her classic Entertaining is Fun! (1941) book may seem a bit outdated (for instance, the note that men will notice if you use the wrong glass for a cocktail), but it’s full of great ideas and — my favorite — one heck of a gorgeous cover. All those red polka dots (which extend inside the book) and the amazing red spine have been staring at me from our office bookshelf for the last few months, so I decided it was time to draw some inspiration from outside of the book, as well. I hope you’ll enjoy my trip down Dorothy Draper lane — she really did have a way with polka dots and stripes . . . xo, grace

*Typically we try to create a single room for these posts, but I couldn’t decide between bedroom and kitchen, so I chose items for both. Sorry!

Photographs by Maxwell Tielman

Image above, clockwise from top left: Swiss Dot bedding from West Elm $24+, Mohair Throw $295, Meurice Chandelier $750, Neutra House Numbers $38.40, Bow iPhone case $40, Benjamin Moore paints (right to left): Cloud Nine, Marshmallow Bunny, Spring Tulips and Ruby Red, Woody Floor Lamp $384, Crosley Portable USB Turntable $170

Image above, clockwise from top left: Deborah Dot Maya Dress $438, Womb Chair $3447, String Stripes Curtain $118+, Red and White Dot Baking Cups $7.95, Reversible Gift Wrap $8, Lacquer Tea Caddy $38.40, Numbered Edition Napkins $120

Image above, clockwise from top left: Shorty Dot Gloves $128, Polka Dotted Dress $168, Lacquer Tissue Box $38, Normandy Park Dot Bag $298, Ikat Placemat $8, Francis Francis iperEspresso Machine $599

  1. Love Dorothy Draper! My post today was inspired by her as well.

  2. amy says:

    i think there is a reference missing for the tissue box…

  3. peaches says:

    I adore this post. I adore Dorothy Draper anything she has to say about anything is next to gospel in my mind. Whenever I consider buying an item or outfit, I think “How would I look wearing this in the lobby at the Greenbrier?” or “Is this something Dorothy would like?” It’s sort of like WWJD…but with a lot more stripes and chintz. Man I love that woman.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Fun post! Entertaining and informative. And I love your personal Greenbrier anecdote. And the plate!

  5. Catherine says:

    Dreamy! Divine! Draper! :)

  6. Ang-e says:

    I am so in love with this post! Everything is gorgeous – thank you for the retro eye candy!

  7. Alika says:

    You’ve missed the red cube on the last picture. Is it a tissue box cover?

  8. 'Becca'lise says:

    That’s a great book! I read it a couple months ago…I love how she’s basically talking about the law of attraction (in 1941!)

  9. Love the book – it’s been on my shelf forever – and the inspiration you drew from it. Gotta have a little Draper in your life!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      sorry guys! added the tissue box link :)


  10. Karen says:

    I LOVE Dorothy Draper and the Greenbrier is my favorite place…Style and Comfort and lots of pattern….

  11. Carol Tuomi says:

    Hi Grace, love your posts , but I am techno challenged. I have a Pinterest account,and don’t want to start up any others. Is there a way to pin your things on my Pinterest or am I being rude for even asking? Hugs, Carol

    1. Amy Azzarito says:

      Hi Carol – We’re working on getting a pin it button installed. In the meantime, do you have a Pin It button installed in your browser? You should be able to click into the post and pin it from there. (You can add the button by clicking on “About” in Pinterest) We’ve also been pinning all of our content via the d*s pinterest account so you can easily repin from here: xo Amy


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