For the design and decoration of their new outdoor oasis, an Atlanta couple channels the late, great Dorothy Draper
The late designer Dorothy Draper once wrote, “you need… courage to disregard stereotyped ideas and try out your own.” That has never been truer than in the case of a Buckhead couple who took a novel approach to outdoor living. Rather than attaching a long-desired porch to their house, they built a freestanding screened-in porch near the swimming pool. And eschewing typical outdoor decor in favor of something more glamorous, the homeowners and their long-time designer, Craig Duncan, turned to In The Pink, a monograph of Draper herself for inspiration.
To begin the project, the couple turned to architect Norman Askins, who had designed much of the main house for them many years ago. Askins took inspiration from the architecture of the main house for the “Summer House,” as they refer to it. The Chinese Chippendale railing that surrounds the porch, for example, echoes that used in the main home’s stairway. But it’s the interior that is quintessential Draper, from the Chinese Chippendale chairs right down to its black-and-white marble floor. Even the mirror over the fireplace channels the great decorator, its pattern reminiscent of a Draper-designed bookcase.
For the color scheme, Duncan took a cue from his clients’ extensive blue-and-white porcelain collection as well as the azure hue of the pool. Fabrics in crisp shades of blue, white and khaki—all treated for outdoor use—were used for the upholstery, while accents of Chinese red were chosen for “pop.” The effect is both livable and luxurious, which explains why the homeowners use the space almost year-round.
Duncan credits his clients with being the driving force behind the project, noting that their taste and knowledge forced him to step up his game. “I’ve learned so much from them,” he says, “and they’ve been influential in my work.”
It seems that Dorothy Draper was right: When a talented designer and courageous clients join forces, decorating is fun!
ARCHITECTURE Norman Davenport Askins. 2995 Lookout Pl. NE, Atlanta 30305. (404) 233-6565; normanaskins.com
Dorothy Draper, Trailblazer
In the 1920s, Draper started what is considered to be the first professional design firm in the United States. Some of her best-known work includes The Carlyle and Hampshire House in New York City, as well as wildly colorful The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia.
Draper’s protégé, Carleton Varney & Associates, is conducting the first-ever Dorothy Draper School of Decorating this spring and summer at The Greenbrier. Remaining course dates for this year are March 25-30; April 29-May 4; and June 10-15. For details, visit dorothydraper.com. Some of Draper’s furniture designs are still manufactured by Kindel, and her fabric designs are being produced by Carleton V fabrics, available to the trade through Grizzel & Mann.