Monday, May 16, 2016

The Blues

Some people consider the color blue as too cold to be welcomed into a comfortable house.  Not so, said Dorothy Draper, who believed that, "Blue can be delicate and yet warm at the same time."  It's a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. Blue, in all of its various guises, is not only my favorite color, it's the essence of my home, making appearances in every room of my apartment, which, I've been told, is warm and inviting.  (Draper also said, "Just as the main theme appears and reappears throughout a symphony, so you can carry one note of color through your whole house to beautiful effect.") Back in 1932 and 1933, the editors of House & Garden were likewise advocates of decorating with blue.  Look at the magazine's color photographs from this time period, and you'll see that blue is notably featured in most of them. In some interior photos, the color permeated a room, such as in the Manhattan living room, seen above and below, of Mrs. Robert A. Lovett.  Mrs. Lovett obviously had a yen for inky blue, because not only did she choose the shade for her living room, she used it in her bathroom as well.  (Seen in the third photograph, the bathroom walls were painted with a mural that shows a colonnaded view of the ocean.)

In other photographs, and in a few illustrations, too, blue appeared as an accent color.  Take, for example, the charming illustration of the living room of Richardson Wright, then editor-in-chief of House & Garden, and his decorator wife, Agnes Foster Wright.  In this room, the Wrights lived beneath a vibrant, bright blue ceiling.  A similar shade can also be seen in the illustration of Condé Nast's paragon-of-chic ballroom, where Elsie de Wolfe chose an 18th-century Chinese wallpaper with a splash of refreshing blue.

But perhaps no photo captures the beauty of blue better than the Edward Steichen photograph, seen below, which shows a woman seemingly enraptured by the blue Delphiniums that grew in Steichen's garden.  I understand the way that woman felt, because the spectrum of blues always dazzles me, too. 

The three photos above show the Manhattan apartment of Mrs. Robert A. Lovett, who decorated her home.

A photo by Edward Steichen, which was taken in his garden.

This illustration shows the living room of Richardson and Agnes Foster Wright.

An illustration of Condé Nast's ballroom.

All images from various 1932 and 1933 issues of House & Garden


  1. Gorgeous post. Inspired by Michael Greer's Inside Design, we had our entrance hall painted a dark blue. It matches a small section of c16 Swiss stained glass mounted on the wall. Happy to report the blue painted ceiling, walls and doors wows our visitors.

    1. Pamela, How dazzling your entrance hall must be! Wow!

  2. Mitchell Owens3:30 PM

    A close friend of Dorothy Parker and John O'Hara, Adele (Mrs Robert) Lovett, a banking heiress, had a healthy (though uncredited) assist from Ruby Ross Wood on the decoration of the NYC apartment. The Biedermeier desk chair, for instance, in the second photography is one that Ruby had in her NYC shop for some time. As for Mrs Lovett, an acquaintance described her as having "a bewitching soft quality, and whenever I saw her she was wearing blue. Women cattily said that she was always working on a piece of blue needlepoint."