Monday, February 24, 2014

Espana Chest... and my Dorothy Draper wannabe

Oh, wait.   Wrong story!

Let's try it, again. 

Several years ago in House Beautiful, I spied a chest of drawers.   And, it was spectacular!  

Black chest of drawers in David Jimenez's home in Kansas City
Unfortunately, there is that pesky Biblical Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet."  Ok... so I will not covet HIS chest of drawers, I will find one of my own!  Hmmmph.
Sadly, I knew nothing about that lovely piece of furniture.
Time to do some research.
Generally referred to as Dorothy Draper chests, these are officially named Espana Chests.  
Dorothy Draper Espana Chest from 1stDibs
According to Kate Collins, "The Espana Chest was designed by Dorothy Draper by invitation of the Spanish government to design a collection to raise the profile of Spanish design in the International market. Profile raised; this is a classic piece." 
Even though these chests are Spanish in origin, the design style is frequently known as Hollywood Regency. 
Ms. Draper, herself, was an interesting character.   Born to a wealthy family in 1889, she established the first interior design company in the United States, in 1923. 

The original Espana chests were created from cherry wood, lacquered in black or white, the 24 karat gold decorative drawer trim was hand applied, and the drawer pulls were high gloss brass.  They were designed as "bunching chests" since several of them could be used together.   Heritage furniture produced and distributed them starting in 1955. 

Original advertisement, circa 1955

Today, a new Espana chest will cost about $5000.    And, used ones are all over the proverbial price point map... ranging from a $400-8000. 

My buddy, Josie, managed to find a Dorothy Draper-esque chest of drawers in Charlotte and sent a photo to me.   It was promptly purchased because it was CHEAP!

But, there was one small problem.  How was I going to get it from Charlotte to Greenville???? 
Fortunately, Ross Spain to the rescue.  Ross is a friend who owns Acquisitions Limited in Raleigh.  He jokingly claims that he is in the used furniture business.  Actually, he and his business partner, Ben Everett, import European antiques and their Raleigh and Charlotte stores are always stunning.
Ross, generously, transported the chest to Raleigh.  We just won't discuss the therapy bills... the chest had a severe bout of PTSD after riding in a truck filled with pedigreed antiques.  {Wink}

The ancestry-challenged chest was kept in storage until I moved to the Triangle.   Though my initial thought had been to refinish it in black lacquer, low gloss white was chosen.  And, since gold inlay trim and additional drawer pulls might look out of place in this crazy mid century modern house, they were avoided. 

Today, it continues to be a Dorothy Draper Espana Chest wannabe!   But, located in my guest bedroom, I love it.

My Dorothy Draper-inspired Espana Chest

1 comment:

  1. I’ve got 2 Espana Chests that I recently lacquered from black to white. However, mine are from 1950’s with handmade brass plating, rather than painted routing. And brass pulls are SOLID, heavy brass. Anyone have information about these & how they were originally created by for Dorothy Draper?