Fabulous Rooms #2: Victorian Writing Room at the Greenbrier

This second Fabulous Rooms post is in response to the first (Living Room at Lyford Cay), wherein I solicited favorite rooms from readers. Paige Ward wins a nickel* for submitting the Victorian Writing Room at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. Originally decorated by the legendary Dorothy Draper and carried on today by her protege and business partner Carleton Varney, the room was once called the most photographed room in the United States.

Dorothy Draper's Victorian Writing Room at the Greenbrier
The enfilade leading to Dorothy Draper's Victorian Writing Room at the Greenbrier. Photo courtesy the Greenbrier.

Now here’s the funny thing: Paige is an old friend and a new blogger, and I was thinking this would be a good time to tell you about her blog, Seekers Bazaar because it is terrific and fun and colorful colorful colorful. So I go to her blog today and guess what she’s writing about: “The Mother of Color” – random musings on Dorothy Draper and Carleton Varney. Are we in the flow or what.

Victorian Writing Room at the Greenbrier
Victorian Writing Room at the Greenbrier

A while ago there was also a great post by John Loecke about the Greenbrier on Hotel Chic, a wonderful blog for the wander-ful.

Here’s an overall shot from outofhands.blogspot.com. I made the small image larger, so the fuzziness is my fault…

Victorian Writing Room by Albina McPhail
Victorian Writing Room, photo by Albina McPhail, via outofhands.blogspot.com

And from Sprezzatura Images

Victorian Writing Room
Victorian Writing Room, via Sprezzatura Images

By the way, what the hell is a sprezzatura? Sprezzatura (Italian pronunciation: [sprettsaˈtura]) is an Italian word originating from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, where it is defined by the author as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.” From Wikipedia, you’re welcome.

Safe to say the Victorian Writing Room was done almost without any sprezzatura about it. A carefully conceived and meticulously executed scheme is called for in a large formal room such as this, which is why it is a Fabulous Room. Also, green-and-red is always fabulous, as are its first cousins green-and-pink and sage-and-scarlet. I find myself returning to them again and again. Maybe because I was born in December. Big, floral chintzes are staging a comeback, quietly at present, but you just wait. They’re too happy and colorful not to, and that’s another part of the timeless appeal of this room. Of course for some, Carleton Varney, aka Mr. Color, among them, color and chintz are in the DNA.

My favorite image is this charming watercolor by Jeanne Brenneman, who lives and paints in West by God Virginia.

Victorian Writing Room watercolor by Jeanne Brenneman
Victorian Writing Room watercolor by Jeanne Brenneman

If you’re a Southerner you probably grew up hearing about the Greenbrier. If you’d like to hear more, here’s a clip from CBS Sunday Morning, which is about the best thing on television when Downton Abbey is off. And here are a few more photos from the Greenbrier’s own site.

Greenbrier front entrance
The Greenbrier grand front entrance
Greenbrier main staircase
The main staircase, red and green again.

Greenbrier bunker
Perhaps because of its proximity to Washington, there is an elaborate, everything-proof underground bunker at the resort where the president, cabinet, and assorted other supreme leaders in case of the Big One.
The Crystal Room
The Crystal Room at the Greenbrier
Cameo Ballroom at the Greenbrier
Cameo Ballroom
Springhouse at the Greenbrier
The charming springhouse is the inspiration for the resort's logo.

Happy Mother’s Day, too.

So you know, there was no compensation for this post, from the Greenbrier or anyone else.

Now your turn: What is your favorite fabulous room in the world?

*Paige, would you like your nickel by cash, check, or wire transfer?


  1. I’ve always wanted to go there…
    My favorite room in the world is the Living Room at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes, France. There is nothing better than sipping a bellini (or two!) while overlooking the magnificent sea…and people watching!

  2. Just old fashioned beautiful. What is the chintz used on the chairs by the fireplace? I can’t believe I am asking aout chintz.
    I tried to find the Lyford Cay posts and never did so maybe Mr. Google can help me.
    Lovely work,keep going..

    1. Well thank you Andee! I will check on the chintz. Meanwhile if you click on the link (the words in green type) in the post for the “Living Room at Lyford Cay” it should take you right to it – I tested it myself. Please, LMK if you have a problem.

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