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Elsie de Wolfe

  • You will express yourself in your house whether you want to or not.

  • I believe in plenty of optimism and white paint.

  • ... don't make each room a different color in a small apartment or you'll make yourself nervous.

  • I know of nothing more significant than the awakening of men and women throughout our country to the desire to improve their houses. Call it what you will — awakening, development, American Renaissance — it is a most startling and promising condition of affairs.

  • ... a man may build and decorate a beautiful house, but it remains for a woman to make a home of it for him. It is the personality of the mistress that the home expresses. Men are forever guests in our homes, no matter how much happiness they may find there.

  • Eating outdoors makes for good health and long life and good temper, everyone knows that.

  • This is the age of the apartment. Not only in the great cities, but in the smaller centers of civilization the apartment has come to stay. ... A decade ago the apartment was considered a sorry makeshift in America, though it has been successful abroad for more years than you would believe.

  • It does not matter whether one paints a picture, writes a poem, or carves a statue — simplicity is the mark of a master-hand ...

  • When one begins to think of oneself as growing old, one is already old.

  • When I am no longer being copied, I shall know that I am a back number. ... the fear of being copied is often the characteristic of the meager imagination.

  • The cardinal virtue of all beauty is restraint.

  • ... it was a great holiness, a religion, as all great loves must be.

  • ... a woman of the world should always be the mistress of sorrow and not its servant. She may have a grief but never a grievance.

  • Never, under any circumstance, do I touch soup, as I do not believe in building a meal on a lake.

  • ... it is not chic to be too chic.

  • Only those are unwise who have never dared to be fools.

  • [At first sight of the Acropolis:] It's beige! My color!

    • Elsie de Wolfe,
    • in Jane S. Smith, Elsie de Wolfe ()
  • Never complain, never explain.

    • Elsie de Wolfe,
    • in Jane S. Smith, Elsie de Wolfe ()
  • Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you.

    • Elsie de Wolfe,
    • in Mrs. Falk Feeley, A Swarm of Wasps ()
  • No one chair should be isolated ...

  • Light, air and comfort — these three things I must always have in a room ...

  • ... the smallest part is worthy of the whole.

  • You will soon find that your joy in your home is growing, and that you have a source of happiness within yourself that you had not suspected.

  • I can't paint. I can't write. I can't sing. But I can decorate and run a house, and light it, and heat it, and have it like a living thing.

    • Elsie de Wolfe,
    • in Nina Campbell and Caroline Seebohm, Elsie de Wolfe: A Decorative Life ()

Elsie de Wolfe, U.S. interior decorator

(1865 - 1950)

Full name: Elsie de Wolfe, Lady Mendl.