Elsie De Wolfe: Author of The House In Good Taste
Elsie De Wolfe (1865-1950) turned to interior design as a profession in 1904.
The following year Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White arranged for her to design the interiors of New York’s new Colony Club, a club open only to women. Decorators ( including De Wolf ) had done residential interiors before, but it was a breakthrough for a decorator to design a public interior, as this work was traditionally done by architects or antique dealers.
“I am going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.”
― Elsie De Wolfe
De Wolfe’s interiors for the club were painted in light color. She furnished the rooms with light, movable chair and tables and colorful chintz’s.
The club’s tearoom(fig.21-2) was treated as a conservatory with green painted trellis work on the walls, a tile floor, and wicker furniture. The look was not yet modern, but it was fresh and pleasant.
De Wolfe is sometimes called the first professional interior designer, and she was also an eclectic, that if, she chose freely among elements of different style.
A shrewd and sensible designs, her three word philosophy still garners respect: “ Simplicity, Suitability, and Proportion”.