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Remembering Carleton B. Varney: A Trailblazer in Interior Design

CEO Khai Intela
Carleton Varney at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Varney) Carleton B. Varney, the renowned interior decorator, designer, author, and publisher, sadly passed away on July 14 at the age of 85....

Carleton Varney at The Greenbrier in West Virginia Carleton Varney at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Varney)

Carleton B. Varney, the renowned interior decorator, designer, author, and publisher, sadly passed away on July 14 at the age of 85. Known as "Mr. Color" in the world of interior design, Varney left an indelible mark on the industry with his vibrant and joyful designs.

A Legacy of Color and Style

Carleton Varney in his New York office Carleton Varney in his New York office. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Varney)

With a design philosophy rooted in the use of bright colors and a rejection of all that is drab and impractical, Varney became a creative force in the field. He joined Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc. in 1958 and played a pivotal role in shaping the firm's iconic style. Varney’s bold and adventurous approach to design expanded the boundaries of color and pattern, establishing him as a true trailblazer.

From the Caribbean to the World

A private home interior by Carleton Varney A private home interior by Carleton Varney. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Varney)

Varney's creative genius extended beyond the United States. His work captivated clients from all corners of the world, including private residences, commercial venues, cruise ships, and even the Antarctic. He adorned the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, with individually designed rooms, paying homage to the first ladies of the United States. In Palm Beach, Florida, he left his colorful mark on iconic hotels like The Breakers, The Brazilian Court, and the Colony.

An Inspiration to All

Some of Carleton Varney’s work at the Greenbrier Some of Carleton Varney’s work at the Greenbrier. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Varney)

Carleton Varney not only revolutionized interior design but also touched countless lives. His son, Sebastian Varney, shared that his father's greatest success was his family and the lasting friendships he fostered. Colleagues remember Varney as approachable, kind, and someone who genuinely cared about people. His colorful, iconic work at Dorothy Draper & Company will continue to inspire future generations.

A Multifaceted Talent

Varney's creative endeavors extended beyond interior design. He authored numerous books on decorating, penned novels, and wrote the official biography of Dorothy Draper. As a design editor at Good Housekeeping, Varney shared his expertise with a broader audience. He even ventured into the world of television, hosting shows dedicated to the art of decorating. Varney's impact was far-reaching and multifaceted.

A Life Well Lived

Carleton Varney with one of his artworks Carleton Varney with one of his artworks.

Beyond his accomplishments, Varney was a compassionate advocate for neurological diseases and disorders. He dedicated his time and energy to fundraising events, bringing awareness to important causes. Varney's legacy will forever be remembered, not only in the world of design but for his contributions to society.

Carleton Varney's vibrant spirit and extraordinary talent will be deeply missed. His bright and joyful designs will continue to inspire future designers, ensuring that his legacy lives on.

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