Legendary Designer

by Liz Dowling

I had the pleasure of meeting Carleton Varney – designer extraordinaire – last month.

Known as Mr. Color, his work is all about using vivid colors and bold patterns.  My type of guy!

Carelton started his career in 1960 at Dorothy Draper & Co., America’s first and most acclaimed design firm.  Dorothy Draper was stylistically very anti-minimalist – also using bright, exuberant colors and large prints that would encompass whole walls.

Carleton Varney’s design work includes private homes of celebrities (Joan Crawford), hotels around the world (The Greenbriar, The Breakers, The Plaza, The Waldorf), The White House – the list goes on!


It was a beautiful night at American Yacht Club for the event.  Cocktails were served outside so we could enjoy the view and the warm weather.

Carleton entertained us with amazing stories of his early years at Dorothy Draper and working with some of his most famous clients.  My favorite tip, use your ceiling as your fifth wall.  Use wallpaper, fabric, anything – it does not always have to be matte white!

There was a lot of great merchandise to peruse too.

My friend Susie added puffed Cheetos to my salad!

Carleton launched his 34th book at our event – “Decorating on the Waterfront” – which might be his most personal book yet.  It shows his imaginative view through the lens of his many waterside projects and talks about living on the water most of his life.  It’s GORGEOUS.

It was a wonderful evening with friends and fabulous stories.  I am a color fiend, so was completely in my element.

Very appropriate that the evening was hosted on the water!

the wry home

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1 comment

Anonymous June 16, 2017 - 9:07 pm

What fun! Greenbrier is a fave! Xx

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