Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gloria Vanderbilt's 1940 Bedroom

I listened to a great interview with Gloria Vanderbilt on "Q" last night as I made dinner.

Gloria Vanderbilt and son Anderson Cooper with portrait of Gloria's mother
via froulala.blogspot.com

She has so many artistic talents that she has pursued over her lifetime (she is 88 now): actress, author, painter, fashion designer.  The interview that she gave to Q was filled with fun incites about how she had low self-esteem until the minute boys came into her life.  Her looks "worked" for her.

LIFE magazine historic files, Gloria posing in 1830 wedding gown
after exchanging wedding vows 1954

In 2009, she recreated her childhood bedroom for the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse, a 40-year-running fund-raiser in NYC for children's after school programs.  Matthew Smyth came up with the idea, according to paramuspost.com, for Gloria to re-create the room.  The writing on the wall is Gloria's, a quote from her 1985 memoir.  She lived here as a 16-year-old when her aunt Gertrude Whitney was raising her.

picture 46 Gloria Vanderbilt
silverleaf wallpaper, headboard covered in moire falle, peacock screen, inlay table; via lauracaseyinteriors.com

Since 2009, the room hasn't shown up in a million blogs or necessarily inspired a new decorating style.  But when you read more about the history of the room . . . 

via lauracaseyinteriors.com

From nytimes.com article "Little Gloria Was Happy Here":

“I lived in this room when I was 16 years old,” said Ms. Vanderbilt, who is 85. “You know, my aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, decorated it for me because I had gone to live with her. She had moved there from Fifth Avenue. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. She started the Whitney Museum, which in those days was just around the corner from our house at 60 Washington Mews.” . . . “When I first went to live with my Aunt Gertrude, she was living in Old Westbury, Long Island, and I slept in Henry Payne Whitney’s room. That was her late husband. It was a man’s room. When we moved downtown, I got a room that she decorated especially for me.”


. . . it seems to mean more once you know the story behind it.

painted chest of drawers, silver grey silk drapes, trompe l'oeil scene of snow falling on Washington Mews, India chair, velvet quilt, 1857 Swedish grandfather clock; elledecor.com


  1. One of my favorite projects from Matthew Smyth. This addition to the Kips Bay House that year was a huge draw and so well done. Such an interesting and powerful collaboration. I loved it!

    1. So glad to hear from someone who actually was there. The power of a bedroom like that re-created is such a powerful idea. I wish I could do the same with other famous rooms that I've read about. Thanks!