Carleton Varney

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Carleton Varney is one of the world’s best-known interior designers and, since 1962, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., one of the oldest continuously operating design firms in the United States. The founder of the company, Dorothy Draper, was the doyenne of design from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, who stressed the use of bright colors and rejected the impractical, uncomfortable and drab. Embracing this philosophy, Carleton Varney carries the torch with his adventurous use of vibrant colors, floral patterns, and bold contrast, designing for an impressive roster of clients from the worlds of entertainment, fashion, and business. Varney helped shape the way we see the world through his hospitality designs, among them: Dromoland and Ashford Castles and Adare Manor (Ireland), The Westbury Hotel (London and Brussels), The Colony Hotel, , The Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island, Michigan), The Greenbrier Hotel & Casino (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia) and the Greenbrier West Village Resort (Japan), and The Stoneleigh Hotel (Dallas, Texas). His enduring style was recognized by Architectural Digest in 2008 when they invited him to design the AD Green Room for the Academy Awards. In a natural extension from hospitality to diplomacy, Mr. Varney has decorated the Governor’s Mansions in West Virginia and Connecticut, as well as the official residences of the U.S. Ambassadors to Japan and Ireland. He oversaw the restoration of the Vice President’s residence at Observatory Circle, consulted for the Carter Presidential Library and various official events, including state dinners, and was the curator of the former presidential yacht, the U.S.S. Sequoia. The Carters so enjoyed his work that they asked him to design their homes in Plains and Ellijay, Georgia. Mr. Varney’s versatility can be seen in the projects, domestic and international, and products that bear his name, from dinnerware to crystal, eye wear to home accessories, scarves to silverware. He has designed collections for Frontgate, HSN, Romweber, Ficks Reed, and Newbridge Silverware. Carleton Varney is the author of numerous books, including a biography of Dorothy Draper, The Draper Touch, and a monograph of her work, In the Pink, and writes a weekly decorating column, “Your Family Decorator,” in the Palm Beach Daily News, a.k.a. ‘The Shiny Sheet’. He also published Houses in My Heart, Mr. Color – The Greenbrier & Other Decorating Adventures, and the recent Decorating on the Waterfront. Carleton is recognized not just for keeping the Dorothy Draper name alive, but also her spirit. Named by Architectural Digest in 2005 as one of the “Deans of American Design”, which many would view as a swan song, he continues to be relevant, being named the Design Icon of the year by the Las Vegas International Market in 2015, a Hall of Fame member by Interior Design magazine, and a recipient of awards that include the Tommy Award, Shelby Williams Award and Restaurant and Hotel Design Platinum Circle Award for his interior designs, to name a few. A native son Massachusetts, Mr. Varney was educated at Oberlin College, Ohio, the University of Madrid, Spain, and received his master’s degree from New York University. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Charleston, West Virginia, where he founded the Carleton Varney School of Art & Design. Mr. Varney is the proud father of three sons- Nicholas, Seamus, and Sebastian. Please visit the Carleton Varney website at to shop for designs by Carleton Varney and Dorothy Draper & Co.

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“The design industry today seems to be very divided between maximalist and minimalist decor. Some believe layering is the way to go while others want a clean, sparse look. Personally, I would love to see the demise of all-white painted wall surfaces – and please, NO more exposed light finishes. As a color and pattern loving traditionalist, I want to look at something interesting and fun!! I believe that brown furniture is still a major finish to be reckoned with (despite what the minimalist like to think)! Painted finishes will always be ‘in’ – just ask Elsie or Dorothy!!! I want more textures in wall coverings, pattern on fabric, paint colors for walls, oriental rugs on the floors!!! Take your souvenirs from your Holiday and put them on display on a shelf to remind you of the good times!  Life is short – make it HAPPY!”