DESIGNER SECRETS: What Would Dorothy Draper Do? Ask Designer Young Huh!
When I attended the pre-renovation party for the Kips Bay Showhouse and saw the room assigned to Young Huh, I was scared for her. Real Scared.
The room was a small, narrow space with something like 5 doorways, and pipes sticking out in random places. And did I mentiom, there were 2 bathrooms. Young only had about 4 weeks to transform the space into something wonderful.
Of course, there was no need for fear. Young is a very well-informed and creative interior designer.
This post is all about how Young tackled a thorny design problem by drawing on her extensive knowledge of design history to create something completely fresh.
I love how Young channeled legendary designer Dorothy Draper in a thoroughly modern way.
So what would Dorothy Draper do if she was handed that room to decorate?
Here are 5 design elements attributable to Draper:
1. Large scale florals, the sweetness of which is often cut with a hit of black.
2. Black furniture accented with gold
3. Over-scaled, graphic details.
4. Clear, bold colors. Draper loved green.
5. Flowers and plant life --Draper has said that flowers can bring a dull room to life and that "they are as much a part of of a decorative scheme as beautiful curtains".
Young spun this legacy to make it her own. Dubbed the Hollyhock Lounge, Young's space was simply elegant. She used Lee Jofa's gorgeous Hollyhock chintz to upholster the walls above a black, patent leather wainscot. Young cleverly upholstered over one of those entries, making it disappear entirely while using the reflective patent leather to create shine in a relatively dark space. By papering the ceiling with Maya Romanoff's Precious Metals wallpaper, Young added more sparkle and shine.
Where Draper might have chosen a overblown rococo pattern, Young transformed two additional doors with a bold geometric design--a modern twist on a classic Draper technique.
The rooms centerpiece was a gorgeous table from Maison Jansen accented in gold.
For seating Young created a comfy green velvet banquette trimmed with a classic greek key and leopard pillows.
More intense color was used in one of the bathrooms. The walls were painted a deep crimson and given an ombre effect with eyeshadow.
As for flowers, Young effectively used real and faux blooms to captivate the eye. Naturally her Hollyhock Lounge contained an actual hollyhock, but the amazing toleware flowers by Tommy Mitchell paired with beautiful peonies stole the show.
The lesson here? It pays to be well versed in the signature traits of design icons like Draper.
Would you channel some Dorothy Draper in your own home? I would, because like she so famously said, I think 'decorating is fun!"
From the smile on Young's face, its obvious that she thinks decorating is fun too.
Photos of Young Huh's space courtesy of Young Huh and by Lynn Byrne. Most photos of Draper's designs from Carlton Varney's book on Draper, In the Pink.