June 1, 2014

Carleton Varney: 1990 Hall of Fame Inductee


Carleton Varney – one of America’s best known interior designers – is the president/owner of

Dorothy Draper & Co. Inc

., located in New York City. It is one of the oldest established interior design firms in the United States and is named after the founder of the company, Dorothy Draper, a doyenne of interior design in the United States from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. The Varney design philosophy stresses…”the use of bright colors and the rejection of all that is impractical, uncomfortable and drab”. In embracing this practice, he continues the tradition of Dorothy Draper, by being associated with the adventurous use of vibrant colors, floral patterns and bold contrasts.

Carleton Varney’s impressive roster of clients includes superstars from the worlds of entertainment, fashion and business. He is associated with the restoration and decoration of countless hotels and resorts in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and the United States. Among them: Dromoland and Ashford Castles, and Adare Manor in Ireland; The Westbury Hotel, London and Brussels; The Colony Hotel, The Breakers, the Brazilian Court, Palm Beach (Florida); The Waldorf Towers, New York City; The Copley Plaza, Boston, (Massachusetts); The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island (Michigan); The Greenbrier Hotel & Casino, White Sulphur Springs (West Virginia) and the Greenbrier West Village Resort (Japan); The Mount Washington Hotel, New Hampshire; The Stoneleigh Hotel, Dallas, Texas; Peter Island Resort Hotel, British Virgin Islands, and Villa Madeleine, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He decorated the Governor’s Mansion in West Virginia and was involved in the decoration of the U.S Ambassador’s Residence in Tokyo, Japan. He restored and redecorated the Official Vice President’s Residence in Washington D.C. and was the color consultant for the Carter Presidential Library and the consultant for several functions, parties and State Dinners for visiting dignitaries at the White House.

In addition to the decoration of numerous private residences, the company has also been associated with the decoration of cruise ship and private plane interiors. Carleton Varney was the curator of the former presidential yacht, the USS “Sequoia”.

In 2008 he also designed the Architectural Digest Green Room for the Academy Awards celebration at the Kodak Theatre, in Los Angeles.

Mr. Varney’s versatility in design can be seen in the wide range of products that bear his mark, ranging from dinnerware, crystal, scarves, and he has designed a line of furniture for the Romweber and Kindel Furniture companies as well as for Ficks Reed. Since 1962, he has been creating designs for Dorothy Draper Fabrics & Wallcoverings which grace the rooms of some of America’s and the world’s most beautiful resorts and homes.

Carleton Varney also writes a weekly decorating column, “Your Family Decorator” in the Palm Beach Daily News – also known as “The Shiny Sheet”. He is the author of numerous books, mostly on decoration and interior design, but he has also written a biography of Dorothy Draper entitled The Draper Touch. He has penned two novels, Kiss the Hibiscus Good Night and The Decorator. In conjunction with the museum exhibitions on the

High Style of Dorothy Draper

at the Museum of the City of New York, The Women’s Museum in Dallas, Texas and the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, (2006-2008) he published the book, In The Pink – Dorothy Draper, America’s most Fabulous Decorator. He has also published – Houses in My Heart – a book that features his favorite design projects during the course of his career. Mr. Varney is often referred to in the media as Mr. Color, hence the title of his book ‘Mr. Color”, the Greenbrier & Other Decorating Adventures, launched in 2010, features his companies latest commissions, using his trademark color palate on his imaginative interiors. His latest book ‘Decorating In The Grand Manor” a design memoir, richly illustrates the quality and breadth of his work.

A native son of Lynn, Massachusetts, he was educated at Oberlin College, Ohio, where he obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree – and the University of Madrid, Spain. He obtained his Master of Arts degree at New York University. He also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Charleston, West Virginia, and founded the Carleton Varney School of Art & Design in that institution.

Architectural Digest

, in its January 2005 edition, named him as one of the 30 “

Deans of American Design


Carleton Varney is the proud father of three sons, Nicholas, Seamus and Sebastian.

Courtesy of dorothydraper.com

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