The ‘Duchess of decorating’ – Dorothy Draper

In the world of interior design, there are few names as iconic and influential as Dorothy Draper. Revolutionising the way we approach décor, she left an indelible mark on the industry that continues to inspire designers today. Known for her fearless use of colour, pattern and scale, Draper’s work transcends trends, embodying a timeless elegance that is forever relevant. 

Born in 1889, Dorothy Draper defied convention from an early age. While many women of her time were confined to traditional gender roles, Draper pursued her passion for design with unwavering determination. She embarked on her career at a time when the field of interior design was predominantly male-dominated, yet her talent and vision quickly set her apart.

Draper’s style was bold, theatrical and unapologetically glamorous. Rejecting the prevailing minimalist aesthetic of the early 20th century, she embraced maximalist, creating spaces that exuded opulence and grandeur. The use of vibrant colours, dramatic patterns and oversized furnishings was her signature. Injecting a sense of exuberance in every Draper room.

The Greenbrier Hotel

One of Draper’s most notable achievements was her work on the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Commissioned in 1946 to redesign the interiors of the historic hotel, Draper unleashed her creative genius, transforming the space into a dazzling showcase of her design philosophy. From the bold black-and-white striped walls of the lobby to the whimsical floral patterns adorning the guest rooms, every inch of the Greenbrier bore Draper’s unmistakable stamp.

A beacon of empowerment

Draper’s influence extended far beyond the walls of the Greenbrier. Throughout her prolific career, she penned several books on interior design, including the seminal “Decorating is Fun!” which remains a classic in the field to this day. In her writings, Draper shared her insights, tips, and tricks, empowering readers to embrace their creativity and fearlessly experiment with design.

Dorothy Draper was also a pioneer in the business side of the industry. In 1925, she founded the architectural and interior design firm Dorothy Draper & Company, becoming one of the first women to establish a successful design business. Her entrepreneurial spirit and keen business acumen paved the way for future generations of women in design, breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes along the way.

Sadly Dorothy passed away 11 March 1969. However, Dorothy Draper’s legacy looms large in the world of interior design to this day. Her fearless approach to colour and pattern continues to inspire designers seeking to make a bold statement, while her entrepreneurial spirit serves as a beacon of empowerment for women in the industry. 


As we look to the future of interior design, we can draw inspiration from Dorothy Draper’s fearless creativity and unwavering passion. Her timeless aesthetic reminds us to embrace colour, embrace pattern, and above all, embrace the joy of decorating. In a world that often seeks conformity, Dorothy Draper stands as a reminder that true beauty lies in embracing the unique and the unexpected.