Decorating Tips from Dorothy Draper

Hello, friends.  A few years ago I studied the New York of Art and Design online course and really enjoyed the class.  Once the classwork is completed, the students can apply for the Residential Interior Design Qualification Certification, RIDQC.  I took the class more for myself than for a career.  I wanted to learn  more about decorating.  I thought that since I do not have a ton of projects going on right now, I should share with you some fun things I learned during the course.  We learned about the famous Dorothy Draper and her design choices.  She is best known for decorating the five star Greenbrier  resort in West Virginia.  She used some decorating techniques that I thought would be fun to share. Even though she is dead, her design techniques are still fresh.  A lot of these tips came from one of her books, Decorating is Fun! How To Be Your Own Decorator.


Tip 1

Customize a room to make your room feel as it is your own with your own expression and personality.


Tip 2

Make a room feel adventuresome and not grim and serious.  She believed there wasn’t any rule that couldn’t be broken.


Tip 3

Turn up the heat.  Get creative and have the courage to go against the stereotypes and try out your own thing.  Don’t follow design trends.


Tip 4

Be bold with color.  The drab age is over.  She said colors need to be honest, fresh, and clear.


Tip 5

Simplify and streamline rooms.  Get rid of the knick knacks. Each room should celebrate simplicity.

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Tip 6

Pay attention to the decorating details.  A lampshade can make or break a room.  Consider all those details.

Tip 7

A room must have comfort and be livable


Tip 8

A room needs to be balanced.  If it is not balanced it will be uneasy.


Tip 9

Don’t forget the ceiling.  Dorothy Draper considered it the fifth wall.

Tip 10

Decorating is sheer fun.  Don’t be too serious.


So, what do you think?  Are you brave enough to incorporate design principles of Dorothy Draper into your own home?  We think a lot of people fear that they will get tired of bold decorating in their own homes and don’t have the money to redecorate when they tire of a look.  However, they love seeing bold choices in other peoples’ homes.  Are there any tips here that you live by?  Let us know.




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  1. says

    DD couldn’t have chosen a better protege than Carleton Varney to continue her style in the revamp of the Greenbrier as shown in these lovely photos of the Greenbrier! Hard to believe that book was published in 1939 and, although she bucked trends, she became the trendsetter.

  2. Beth Lowe says

    My favorite images from my visits to The Greenbriar are the wide aubergine/white stripes in the cafe downstairs, the rhododendron carpet to ground the entrance space and how her blue walls mimic the West Virginia sky. She deconstructed the outside world and brought it indoors is a Classical Way.

  3. Carolyn Rasnick says

    I exemplify the DD principles in my home! Lots of bold color, simple and streamlined rooms, balance, etc. I decorated my home with lots of color 16 years ago and I still love living in it every day. My husband loves to say, “People always rave about the bold color in our home but I notice no one ever goes home and changes theirs to be colorful!” To each his own when it comes to decorating their homes but I feel like I’m on vacation in my home all the time!

    • says


      I love it! Just the rug in our living room with all the colors makes me so happy. Now I need to see your home one of these days!