To become a great artist, one must first study the masters. Get familiar with the work and styles of these five icons of American interior design before creating a legendary interior of your own.
||Modern Fans: Carleton Varney, Thom Filicia
Style: Colorful and whimsical.
Notable Because: As a member of society's elite herself -- Draper's husband was FDR's physician -- Draper's clients were a who's who of America's social scene. A savvy businesswoman, Draper collected the highest fee ever paid to a decorator for her work at The Greenbriar hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Quotable: "I always put in one controversial item -- it makes people talk."
Further Reading: In the Pink: Dorothy Draper -- America's Most Fabulous Decorator
||Modern Fans: Benjamin Vandiver, Jeffrey Bilhuber
Style: Tailored and polished.
Notable Because: His own iconic clients, including Jackie Onassis and Diana Vreeland, hired him to create the colorful, edited, classically American interiors that designers are still referencing in modern work.
Quotable: "First and foremost, furniture must be comfortable. That is the original purpose of it, after all."
Further Reading: Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator
||Modern Fans: Bunny Williams, Brian McCarthy
Style: Thoughtful and sophisticated.
Notable Because: One founding half of Parish-Hadley Associates (see below), Hadley created timeless rooms with smart, well-conceived designs. With client names like Astor and Rockefeller, the man was doing something right.
Quotable: "Decoration is really about creating a quality of life, and a beauty in that life that nourishes the soul, that makes life beautiful. That's what all this is about."
Further Reading: Albert Hadley: The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer
||Modern Fans: Miles Redd, Mario Buatta
Style: Cozy opulence.
Notable Because: The other half of the Parish-Hadley Associates duo, Parish brought flair and chintz to Hadley's more restrained aesthetic, attracting major clients and designing the family quarters of the Kennedy White House.
Quotable: "Innovation is often the ability to reach into the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, what is useful, what is lasting."
Further Reading: Sister Parish: The Life of the Legendary American Interior Designer
Do you have any favorite iconic designers?
||Modern Fans: Kelly Wearstler, Hutton Wilkinson
Style: Layered, vivacious, and lively.
Notable Because: A set decorator and costume designer for MGM and others, Duquette made his mark in residential and commercial interiors as well, designing the Hilton Hawaiian Village, an Irish castle for Elizabeth Arden, and the home of J. Paul Getty.
Quotable: "It's a constant evolution. There is no master plan, no order. When I decorate a room, I work like an artist painting a canvas."
Further Reading: Tony Duquette
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Photographs: 1.2.3. The Greenbriar, 4. via Jeffery McCullough 5. 6. via Habitually Chic 7. Photographed by Simon Watson for House Beautiful 8. via Architectural Digest 9. via Architectural Digest 10. via Down East Dilettante 11. via Architectural Digest 12. Photographed by Brian Vanden Brink for Architectural Digest 13. via Love is Speed, 14. 15. Photographed by Patrick Cline for Lonny