Dorothy Mae “Sister” Parish (1910-1994) is considered a pioneer in the field. Her nickname came from being the only girl in a family of boys. She had a no-nonsense approach to design and would often take a teacart through a new client’s house collecting unnecessary bric-a-brac as the first step in redesigning!
Parish is credited with popularizing the American country style during the 1960’s. Jackie Kennedy hired Sister to design a family home and also as the first designer in the White House restoration project.
Sister Parish wrote of her design philosophy, “As a child, I discovered the happy feelings that familiar things can bring – an old apple tree, a favourite garden, the smell of a fresh-clipped hedge, simply knowing that when you round the corner, nothing will be changed, nothing will be gone. I try to install the lucky part of my life in each house that I do. Some think a decorator should change a house. I try to give permanence to a house, to bring out the experiences, the memories, the feelings that make it a home.”
Although Sister Parish had a frank, often intimidating approach, she never forgot that rooms were made for people, and that they should be as comfortable and attractive as possible.