Decorating is Sheer Fun: A Look at Dorothy Draper and Her Five Principles of Design

“Decorating is just sheer fun: a delight in color, an awareness of balance, a feeling for lighting, a sense of style, a zest for life, and an amused enjoyment of the smart accessories of the moment.” ~ Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper, 1942

In 1925, design icon Dorothy Draper opened America’s first professional decorating firm, the Architectural Clearing House, setting the standards that transformed interior decorating from a hobby or avocational service into a full-fledged profession. Draper revolutionized the concept of design by breaking away from the dark color schemes used throughout the Victorian style and introducing bold, bright color palettes in vibrant hues.  Extremely confident and driven purely by her own idiosyncratic taste, Dorothy Draper was famous for the dictum “if it looks right, it is right.”

Benjamin Moore Draper color palette
Benjamin Moore issued a Dorothy Draper Color Collection of 15 signature shades.

Draper’s style was very anti-minimalist, encompassing exuberant colors, big florals, bold stripes, impressive mirrors, and ornate details such as rococo scrollwork and baroque plaster work. The looks Draper created with combinations of flamboyant colors, big, bold patterns, and interesting textures are referred to as the “the Draper touch,” and the classically modern style she created is known as “Modern Baroque.”

Decorating is Fun coverDraper’s 1939 book, Decorating Is Fun!: How to Be Your Own Decorator, is a timeless how-to full of practical dos and don’ts in decorating. In the introductory chapter, “How to Get Started,” Draper explains the book is about how to have a good time decorating: “If you want to be grim and serious about it, don’t read another word, for what I have to say is not for you.”

Draper was firm in her belief that nothing is as satisfying and friendly as a house that “seems graciously filled with the definite aura of its owner’s personality,” and promises that a home that is “just what we really want” is within reach for everyone. Draper firmly believed there was nothing “deep and mysterious” about interior decorating, but she acknowledged we need to understand some fundamental design principles. These principles are “our five most powerful friends to guide us” – and they are as on-target today as they were in 1939.

1. Courage
“You need courage to experiment, courage to seek out your own taste and express it, courage to disregard stereotyped ideas and try out your own. But courage doesn’t mean recklessness. Before you become your decorator, you must first become a critic. Before you make any decisions, look the field over carefully. Take inventory of what the market has to offer, and above all, explore your own taste.”
2. Color
“The Drab Age is over. Color is coming into its own again. Until very recently, people were literally scared out of their wits by color. Perhaps this was a hangover from our Puritan ancestors. But whatever the reason, brown, grays and neutrals were the only shades considered ‘safe.’ Now we know that lovely, clear colors have a vital effect on our mental happiness.”
3. Balance or Size
“The proportions of your room, the balance of your arrangements, and the size of your furniture and accessories all are most desperately important. Many people have sensitive eyes when it comes to color, but so many are unawake when it comes to line.”
4. Smart Accessories and Details
“It is just as disastrous to have the wrong accessories in your room as it is to wear sport shoes with an evening dress. It will always be these details of a room that will give it distinction.”
5. Comfort
“No room can be called perfect unless it has real comfort. It must be livable for you. It must meet graciously every requirement you make of it. Plan your room for the people who live in it. Think of their habits as you rearrange your furniture. There are a few hard-and-fast rules about this arrangement, which should be obeyed for the sake of balance. But they are very few, and otherwise you are free to experiment.”

“In the Pink” by Carleton Varney captures Dorothy Draper’s iconic style, indomitable spirit, and original inventive designs which have become an enduring legend.

Draper revolutionized the way we look at interior design by trying new things and pushing people to think outside the beige box. Though she died in 1969, the exuberance and confidence that permeates her work still inspires designers today, and Dorothy Draper & Company is still going strong with accomplished designer and author Carleton Varney at the helm.

Check out our Pinterest Board to enter vibrantly colored world of Dorothy Draper!

When it comes to countertops, Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you think outside the beige box with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time! 


Do the Right Thing and Save Money, Too: Tips for Selecting Eco-Friendly Kitchen Appliances

If you’re planning a kitchen makeover, you’re probably already well aware of the overwhelming number of appliances on the market, many with exciting bells and whistles, and available in a range of price points. One way to narrow down the seemingly limitless choices is to eliminate the energy hogs and look for the greener, more eco-friendly appliance options. Though some green choices may be more of an initial investment, the savings will quickly pay off in terms of energy savings–and you can feel good about reducing your home’s carbon footprint. Make eco-smart choices with these tips for selecting energy efficient appliances for your kitchen.

Photo by Reid Dalland Photography


The refrigerator is the biggest energy hog of all the kitchen appliances, accounting for as much as 15 percent of your home’s energy usage. Choosing an energy-efficient refrigerator can be as easy as looking for the Energy Star* label; but for maximum efficiency, don’t stop there: side-by-side refrigerators use about 20 percent more energy than top or bottom freezer models, and through-the-door ice makers and water dispensers increase overall refrigerator energy consumption by 10 to 15 percent.

*If all refrigerators sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $1.4 billion each year and 19 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented.

Cooking Appliances

Robin Kitchen

Cooktops & Ranges

While gas cooktops use less energy than electric ones, they do release combustion by-products (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide) into the air. If you choose a gas cooktop or range, be sure to have a hood ventilated to the outside of the house. A good quality exhaust hood will remove up to 70 percent of these pollutants. Look for Energy Star certified exhaust systems which use 65 percent less energy and avoid downdraft hoods, which do not perform as well as overhead hoods.

Magnetic induction cooktops and ranges are much more energy efficient than gas or electric because they cook food faster and lose less heat in the process. A magnetic induction cooktop’s heat is transferred directly to the pan through high-tech magnetism, leading to little wasted heat. By only heating the pot, and not the air around the vessel, the result is a cooler kitchen for even more energy efficiency.


Kitchen has double ovens

Ovens are inherently inefficient. For better efficiency, choose the smallest oven for your needs. If you have occasions when a small oven just won’t cut it, consider two smaller wall ovens rather than one large one. Look for models with a convection option. Convection cooking employs a fan that circulates heated air around the food, reducing temperature and cooking times and using 20 percent less energy. Additionally, models with self-cleaning features are better insulated, which boosts efficiency.

Tracey Stephens Interior Design Inc


Energy Star–rated dishwashers use at least 41 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard. Look for models with energy-saving wash cycle options, as well as models with booster heaters that will rise the water to 140 degrees while keeping your water heater at 120 degrees. Dishwasher drawers are great energy savers for running small loads. Install two units for full size dish washing when needed.

Prestige Marble & Granite is your midlle Tennessee source for beautiful, enduring and sustainable natural stone countertops to comlement your eco-friendly kitchen.We have something for every taste and every budget. Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

It’s Only Natural: Organic Materials Are Always Interior Design Winners

Organic design elements are made of materials which come from nature. The addition of natural, organic elements in our interiors can make us feel calm, at peace, and above all, welcomed. It is now known that using organic interior design elements to connect humans to nature nurtures health and well-being. Natural materials are also a healthier choice for interiors as they are non-toxic with little to no VOCs, thus ensuring better indoor quality. The use of organic elements in interior spaces is always a win-win. Here’s a look at some ways to bring organic elements into your interiors.

Natural Stone

Natural stone is one of the most popular, and enduring, organic elements used in home design. It lends a beautiful, organic vibe to any interior design style, and it is also inherently earth-friendly due to its recyclability, durability, enduring life-cycle, and ease of care and maintenance.

Calacatta Gold marble countertops in the kitchen produce an elegant look, but lend a warm, welcoming vibe as well.

Kitchen with Calacatta Gold marble
Photo by Prestige Marble & Granite

A dramatic all-white Carrara marble fireplace is the focal point of this quintessential modern living room.

Living Room

 Woven Materials

Woven elements offer a handmade quality with terrific texture. They can look rustic or modern and simultaneously graphic and natural.

These colorful woven baskets make a spectacular wall grouping, while adding a cheerful organic vibe.

Moroccan Modern
Woven rope furniture adds richness, texture and warmth to this living room.
Balnarring Beach House
Woven furniture and lighting combined with and natural-fiber rugs soften the crisp nautical scheme of this coastal style living room.
Kate Marker Interiors

 Wooden Elements

Nothing says organic like natural wood. From flooring to ceiling, to walls, furnishings, and accessories, wooden elements always lend welcoming warmth to any design style.

Lots of wood, natural stone, plus some woven elements combine with glass walls to bring the outside in to this rustic-yet-elegant space.
How about a tree in the house for some organic style?
Santa Cruz Straw Bale House
Or, how about a cluster of artful tree trunk coffee tables? These one-of-a-kind accent tables really soften the hard angles of this contemporary space.
Hydeaway House

 Brick Features

What could be more organic than mud, clay and water?  The appeal of brick in modern design is unmatched.

Peeling back the layers to expose this brick wall reveals the past while complementing the present. The uniformity in pattern makes a gorgeous backdrop for this modern space as well as adding texture and color.

Less brick is exposed here, but the design cleverly enlists a mirror to help the brick repeat visually, giving the illusion that it is more present in the full space.
Already a big trend for gardens, herringbone brick floors can create a French rustic look.
San Clemente Remodel

Natural Sunlight

Bringing  in natural sunlight as a design element is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to incorporate one of nature’s most beautiful elements. Natural daylighting can make any room come alive.

Expansive glass walls will certainly allow plenty of natural light, but the light can be unbearable at times. This house makes a statement with folded perforated sheets that jut from glass walls to filter the sunlight entering the house.

Venice House
Skylights are an effective means of bringing additional natural light.
Cole Valley Hillside - John Maniscalco Architecture
Simple-technology solar tubes channel light to where it’s needed using highly reflective, flexible tubes. Here, borrowed light from solar tubes extend from the roof to brighten a dark dark bathroom.
There are so many ways you can bring the outdoor in with the use of organic elements in your decor. Head over to our Pinterest board for more inspiration!
Let Prestige Marble & Granite help you select the most beautiful and enduring organic countertops for your home. Our highly skilled fabricators use the latest in technology to ensure precise cutting, fitting, and installation of your natural stone, for a beautiful look that will stand the test of time.

Iconic Designs: The Eames Lounge & Ottoman

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous ~ Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

If you were a fan of the TV show, Frasier, you’ll recognize the Eames Lounge that was often featured in Frasier Crane’s apartment; and this particular episode is a classic. The Eames Lounge chair is quite possibly, to quote Dr. Crane, “the best engineered chair in the world,” but do you know the story behind this iconic chair that is still being made today?

EamesesThe Designers

The famous husband and wife design duo, Charles and Ray Eames, made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art, and film. The Eameses pioneered technologies in furniture design, such as molded plywood work, fiberglass furniture, plastic resin chairs, and wire mesh chairs.

Eames Lounge and OttomanThe Design

Charles’s vision was for a chair with “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” He said he thought of the human body as a baseball, sinking comfortably and correctly into the inviting, soft leather of the mitt. Unlike its purely modern molded plywood predecessors, the lounge chair was first and foremost, comfortable. It also looked comfortable – a look quite different from the more spartan furniture of earlier modernist designers. But it also had the modern “Eames look:” playful, functional, sleek, sophisticated, and beautifully simple.

The Materials

The chair is composed of three curved plywood shells: the headrest, the backrest and the seat. In early production, beginning in 1956 and running through the very early 1990s, the shells were made up of five thin layers of plywood which were covered by a veneer of Brazilian rosewood. Because excessive harvesting of this species since colonial times has led to its extreme endangerment, the use of Brazilian rosewood was discontinued in the early 1990s. Current production uses seven layers of plywood covered by finishing veneers of cherry, walnut, and other non-endangered woods.

The seat cushions eschew standard stapled or nailed upholstery. Instead, the cushions are sewn with a zipper around the outer edge that connects them to a stiff plastic backing. The backing affixes to the plywood shells with a series of hidden clips and rings.


While the Eamses aimed to develop furniture that could be mass-produced and affordable, the Eames Lounge was an exception; it was the the first chair that the couple designed for a high-end market. When the chair was dramatically unveiled on the Arlene Francis Home show in an aura of glamour, the Eames Lounge and Ottoman instantly became a status symbol for the well appointed home of the 1950’s.


Since its introduction in 1956, the chair has been in continuous production by Herman Miller in America, and later by Vitra in Europe. Immediately following the chair’s release, other furniture companies began to copy the chair’s design, but only Herman Miler and Vitra produce authentic chairs with the Eames name attached.

The Eames Lounge chair embraces the ideals of comfort, simplicity, and even elegance; it is truly one of the greatest pieces of furniture ever made.

Any time one or more things are consciously put together in a way that they can accomplish something better than they could have accomplished individually, this is an act of design. ~ Charles Eames


Let Prestige Marble & Granite play a role in your “act of design,” by helping you select the most beautiful and enduring countertops for your home. Our highly skilled fabricators use the latest in technology to ensure precise cutting, fitting, and installation of your natural stone, for a beautiful look that will stand the test of time.