19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

Elsie De Wolfe (1865-1950)

Elsie De Wolfe pioneered the profession of Interior Design. She loved to use flowery printed chintz and wanted to brighten up drab Victorian interiors. She decorated the New York Colony Club in 1907 and published The House in Good Taste in 1913. Below is a photo of a room from the Colony Club (Architect was Stanford White). She was ahead of her time too- using animal prints, light colors in uncluttered rooms, faux finish on the walls and an eclectic array of furniture. Her style is best reflected by her design philosophy, she said¬†“I opened the doors and windows of America and let the air and sunshine in.” Her clients included Anne Vanderbilt, Anne Morgan, Henry Clay Frick and other high profile socialites of New York City.¬†

photo of the colony club interior taken from her book

She and her manager Bessie Marbury bought the Villa Trianon at Versailles. This would be the place that she first showed her interior design talents. In the Villa Trianon’s pavillion she used 18th century French elements to accent a room with upholstered walls in a stripe fabric and matching curtains. (photos from Influential Interiors by Suzanne Trocme).

Albert Hadley introduces Elsie de Wolfe in the forward of The House in Good Taste. In it her refers to a needlepoint pillow in her house “Never Complain, Never Explain”. That is one good motto.

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