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Decorating Tips From Elsie de Wolfe

5 Decorating Tips From Interior Design Legend Elsie de Wolfe

Most famously known for denouncing the dreary colors, heavy woodwork, and excessively ornate decorating style of the Victorian age, Elsie de Wolfe was the first woman to claim an occupation as an interior designer.

Though American-born, she became one of the most prominent designers in Paris and London. She was proof that good design principles are evergreen, so we decided to highlight five decorating tips from her influential 1913 book, The House in Good Taste, which can be applied to modern design.

  • Brighten your space with chintz curtains or upholstery.
  • While the waxed calico versions that Elsie may have used aren't as prominent today, colorful modern spin-offs, like this Blythe Chair ($1,598) are making a comeback.

  • Don't be afraid to stencil or paint wooden furniture.
  • A coat of fresh paint is a wonderful way to modernize vintage finds. We also like the idea of taking Elsie's stenciling tip a step further by experimenting with stenciling wooden floors.

    Keep reading for more of Elsie's decorating tips!

  • Furnish your entryway or hall with a table or desk for writing.
  • Elsie saw this as a fundamental tool for keeping order in any home. We suggest keeping stylish notepads and pens on hand as well, like this notepad and bamboo pen set ($28).

  • Layer each room with a variety of lighting.
  • Though Elsie points to candle and gas versions, modern rooms can benefit from an assortment of floor, tabletop, wall, and ceiling lighting. A well-balanced variety adds depth and softness to a room.

  • Don't fixate on matching furniture.
  • Elsie even suggested using mismatched dining room chairs, a trend that is becoming increasingly popular in modern homes.

    Source: Flickr user The Library of Congress

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