These 5 Iconic Women Couldn't Have More Different Decor Styles

Only Georgia O'Keeffe could pull off black leather curtains.

I spent years researching my new book, , because I'm fascinated by how trailblazing women expressed themselves at home — from Georgia O'Keeffe, who never would have dreamed of hiring a designer, to Babe Paley, who went through a string of them.

They all wanted rooms they could be comfortable in. As Gloria Vanderbilt put it, "Decorating is autobiography."

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Louise de Vilmorin

louise de vilmorin salon
Roger Guillemot/Connaissance Des Arts/AKG Images

Blue and white is a very French way to treat a room that goes back centuries, but the way heiress de Vilmorin used this Georges Le Manach chintz in the salon of her château — everywhere! — makes it work. This was a family home, and everything in it was sacred to her — the inherited furniture, the Chinese pieces. She united it all with that fabric.

Babe Paley

babe paley pool
Getty ImagesJohn Rawlings

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Paley was a known perfectionist, but in Jamaica, she could let her hair down. The hat rack isn't hidden away in a closet. This was all about embracing functional outdoor living — rattan pieces and red cushions say relax.

Georgia O'Keeffe

georgia o'keeffe bedroom
Balthazar Korab

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A true original, O'Keeffe didn't bring antiques to Santa Fe, she worked with what she had, mixing modern and adobe. The patent-leather blackout curtains in her bedroom are a flash of her New York days. The Buddha hand, in mudra pose, means "fear not."

Lesley Blanch

lesley blanch home
Getty ImagesHenry Clarke

The British author and nomad had a caravan of things from far-flung journeys that became her rooms. She threw down rugs and fabulous needlepoint pillows she made; it was all very spontaneous but created instant ambience. It was her genuine lifestyle — she didn't go online and buy 25 pillows just for show. She could pitch her tent anywhere!

Evangeline Bruce

evangeline bruce library
Derry Moore

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In the hostess's library, the colors of the wall and cabinet fabric came from a 17th-century painting of Pocahontas in Jacobean dress. If there's ever a way to create a memorable room, it's using one fabric from head to toe.

This story appeared in the May 2017 issue of CQ.

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