Dorothy Draper's Legacy

Dorothy Draper collage

Decorating is Fun!,  Draper’s first book, do-it-yourself design made its way into average women’s lives, helping to shape the iconic image of a suburban homemaker.

Born in 1889, Dorothy Draper was one of the first female interior designers of the industry’s history. She defined decades of interior design and inspired millions of homemakers over the course of the 20th and into the 21st century. As a pioneer of American style, she showed the world that women were more than capable of building a business, growing that empire, and characterizing a brand. Her take on decorating was unique, happy, and became the template for our modern approach to interior design. In

Dorothy Draper Decorating is Fun!


During her lifetime, Dorothy was hired to decorate hotels and resorts around the world, including San Francisco’s Mark Hopkins Hotel. Her work included museums, restaurants and retail spaces.  Draper launched textile collections, partnered with the furniture manufacturer Henredon, designed and produced her own line of home wares, wrote several how-two books and founded her own firm, Dorothy Draper, Inc. Her style infiltrated all sectors of design and is still prevalent today.

Hendredon viennese commode dorothy draper

The Viennese Commode by Dorothy Draper for Henredon shown above was the inspiration for this design profile post. If you come to Harrington Galleries today you can see this piece of interior history in person, or take it home with you.

dorothy draper color coded room schemes magazine 1950s


One of the reasons Dorothy's style was so popular was its accessibility. This page from a 1950's magazine simplifies the color scheme process for readers. Her decorating elements are as current today as they were in the early 20th century. Incorporate these simple “Draper” signatures into your living space for a high style and classic look!

    The hallmarks of a Draper interior are:
  • 1. Bold floral or stripe print
  • 2. Black and white contrast
  • 3. White plaster/moldings
  • 4. Whimsical scales, (ie. small room with a huge chandelier/exaggerated doorways)
  • 5. Furniture matching (ie. pairs of lamps and arm chairs)
  • 6. Lacquered Asian and rococo furniture pieces.
  • 7. Mixing eras: art deco + rococo + colonial.