Eye Candy

The Colorful History of Legendary Hotel Designer Carleton Varney

by Berit Baugher
The The President's Parlor at The Greenbrier. All photos by Michel Arnaud.

"I want people to feel like Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Ingrid Bergman, and Charles Boyer after they leave one of my hotels. Very glamorous!"

That's what celebrated interior designer Carleton Varney told us when we asked him how he wanted guests at his hotels to feel.

He's not kidding about the glamour, as a quick spin through these photos will reveal. They're taken from the new book, Mr. Color: The Greenbrier and Other Decorating Adventures, an exploration of Varney's work. As president and owner of Dorthy Draper & Company — America's first interior design firm and the home of Modern Baroque decor — Varney is known for his unconventional and delirious use of bold colors and patterns. The book includes lavish photos from some of his most notable projects, including West Virginia's The Greenbrier, Michigan's Grand Hotel, several private residences, and his own Palm Beach villa. Here are a few of our favorite excerpts from the book.

The caption: "In the President's Parlor, a landscape painting was made into two paintings, one for each side of the fireplace mantel. Dorothy chose to cut the canvas in half to provide the room with trees and a flowing river on both walls. The wing chairs by the fireplace are covered in a Delft-blue damask drapery fabric, while the melon silk damask on two channel-back lounge chairs, called Delphine, coordinates with the wall color."

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