Monday, October 10, 2011

Dorothy Draper...Swoon!

For my very first post to my very first blog, I could not think of anything better to share than my obsession with the iconic designer Dorothy Draper and how I came to find and restore my most coveted piece of furniture (art in my opinion!).

First a little history: In the early to mid 1900's Dorothy Draper was the most highly sought after decorator in America. Over the years she decorated some of the most famous hotels and homes around the world. She started the first design company in the United States, made her own fabrics and partnered with famous furniture manufacturers to design a line of her own...which brings me to my story.

A few months ago, while hitting the local Kansas City "First Friday" flea markets with my mom, I came upon what I believed to be a Dorothy Draper for Heritage Henredon chest of drawers. If you look at design mags as much as I do, you know what this is-even if you don't recognize the name. Now normally I am a fairly good bargainer, knowing to never pay full price, even if you think the item you are looking at is worth every penny. When I saw the cabinet off in the back of the room, my heart started pounding. No way could someone have a DD chest here-in a flea market! It had been repainted to a peachy matte, and the drawer pulls painted as well. I quickly asked the booth owner what her price was-$125. 125 DOLLARS....Now, if you have ever looked at prices on these, you know that is an insane deal. Right now if you went to e-bay or 1stbids you could find something similar for $500-$3000. So against all my own bargaining rules, I quickly said "I'll take it". Inside I was so happy I could hug the woman! She probably thought I was a little nuts-as I paid her I was basically guarding the chest with my entire body!

Looking at the chest closely, I was fairly certain this was the real deal, and that this lady just had no idea what she was selling. The age of the piece was appropriate, the wood solid and heavy. the carvings were exact to the ones I had seen that I knew were real. Sadly, there was no marking of DD or Heritage anywhere that I could find, but it may have been painted over. Either way, I LOVED it, and it was coming home with me! Here is a picture of  the one I found, and then one from a design site. You be the judge!

Back at my condo, I had my work cut out for me. A coat of primer, several coats of white lacquer, and a final clear protective coat. All of the drawer pulls had to be soaked to remove all of the paint, and then scrubbed with brass polish. Lastly, steadily gold leafing the fabulously beautiful carved design on the drawer fronts. All and all, about a 10 hour long ordeal I'd say, but COMPLETELY worth it! The chest now sits in my living room, right where it has always belonged!

1 comment:

  1. You made this look so beautiful! I can't wait to read more posts! It looks so perfect with that gold framed mirror and bubble lamp!