vintage inspiration

vintage inspiration: dorothy draper book

by Grace Bonney

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 (1941) book may seem a bit outdated (for instance, the note that men will notice if you use the wrong glass for a cocktail), but it’s full of great ideas and — my favorite — one heck of a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

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