Dec 16, 2007

A Rebel in an Ugly World

Who was Elsie de Wolfe?

She was believed to have invented the profession of Interior Design and often referred to herself as “a rebel in an ugly world”.

In 1903, at age 40, Elsie began to pursue Interior Design after being an actress and staging plays for many years. She was responsible for brightening the interiors of some of the most impressive Victorian houses of that era. In 1913, she wrote The House in Good Taste- one of the most influential and memorable design books of all time.

She also introduced society to the cocktail party and the small intimate dinner party (love it!)
In her clothes as well as her Interior Design, she lived by the motto she embroidered on taffeta pillows in her parlor: "Never complain, never explain."

The three aspects Elsie always desired in a room were light, air, and comfort.

Elsie’s home decorating tips are not lost today. Using Horchow’s gorgeous traditional furniture and accessories, you can bring an up to date Elsie de Wolfe style into your home and create a timeless environment.
Here are a few of her decorating tips below:

1) Artwork: Elsie often hung artistic portraits and traditional landscapes in the homes she designed.

2) Color Palette: Elsie loved the colors- blue, rose, and cream. This bedspread embodies all of these hues while maintaining a high level of elegance and femininity. Other colors she desired together were greens, purples, and lavenders.

3) Comfort is Key in Furniture: She used 18th century French and English furniture in her designs but she made sure the chairs were always comfortable.

4) Chaise Lounge- this piece of furniture was often a key element in Elsie's decor.

5) Preferred lots of light sources: Elsie wanted her rooms to be filled with lots of light- coming from various sources. This crystal chandelier and mirrored sconce are updated versions of the ones Elsie used to fill her homes with.

6) Delicate Writing Tables: This writing desk from Horchow looks very similar to those chosen by Elsie back in 1903.

7) House Plants/Flowers/ Porcelain Bowls- These were the kinds of accessories that Elsie liked to decorate with in a room. She especially loved potted palms.

8) Footstools- Elsie used these small pieces of furniture throughout her rooms to give them a dainty touch while also providing another place to sit.

9) Painted and Stenciled Furniture: Elsie loved the intricate detail in painted furniture.

10) Animal Prints: A popular home trend now, she often used animal prints in her designs. It just keeps coming back!

11) Mirrors: Elsie used mirrors mostly over fireplaces and dressing tables; her favorites were those with silver and gold gilded decorative frames like the one above.

12) Persian Rugs- These rugs are classic and timeless- still used today.

13) Vanity Table: These were seen in a lot of bedrooms she designed. The vanity table's skirt adds sophistication/glamour and softens the hard edges of the table.
14) Wall Colors: Elsie desired light, fresh, and soft wall colors.
She was once heard saying- "It's my color- beige!"
15) A few of her other design tips included: Faux finish treatments, chinoiserie print wallpaper, chintz fabrics, and uncluttered rooms.
Her design advice was very practical and relatively inexpensive to carry out.
One of my favorite quotes from Elsie- “It’s the personality of the mistress that the home expresses. Men are forever guests in our homes, no matter how much happiness they find there.” Amen!