The lead line of a profile report, published here in May 1969, reads: "Trying to sort out your thoughts and impressions after interviewing Carleton Varney, you suddenly wonder why you feel slightly dazed...how on earth can someone just 32 years old do so much so successfully?" Years later, this reaction still applies. Only much more so.
Just consider. The interior designer, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., in the hotel category alone lists among completed projects: Dromoland and Ashford Castles, and Adare Manor in Ireland; The Westbury Hotel, London and Brussels; The Breakers and the Brazilian Court, Palm Beach, FL; The Waldorf Towers and The Plaza Hotel, New York City; The Fairmont Plaza, Boston, MA; The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, MI; The Greenbrier West Village Golf Resort in Japan; Peter Island Resort Hotel, British Virgin Islands; and Villa Madeleine, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
He founded Carleton V, a fabric source with 15 showrooms in this country and London. He has redecorated two cruise ships, and acts as curator of the former presidential yacht USS Sequoia. He completed the official residence of former U.S. vice president J. Danforth Quayle. As design consultant for many functions at the White House, he has overseen arrangements honoring two First Ladies, former Prime Minister Magaret Thatcher and other world leaders. Mr. Varney is the author of 23 published books, most on decorating, one about Dorothy Draper called Kiss the Hibiscus Goodnight and another called The Decorator. In addition, he writes a syndicated column, and lectures prodigiously. He has designed two furniture collections, carpets, Rosalynn-pattern china, table linens, sheets, cookware, accessories including scarves (not to mention the flowing ties that have become something of a personal trademark for, or on, him), also fabrics and wallcoverings for a non-competitive firm. He owns a restaurant and retail complex in St. Croix offering boutique fashions and home furnishings for island living. He introduced a line of resort clothing, and had designed menswear for a British firm.
In 1983, he realized a lifelong ambition by opening the Carleton Varney School of Design at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. His fabric designs, launched under the name Carleton Varney by The Yard (in Sarasota, FL), grace the rooms of some of America's most beautiful homes. Mr. Varney has a design office/boutique--Carleton Varney Rose Cottage--in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare, Ireland which features his unique taste in authentic period antiques, down-home country collectibles, furniture, fabric and accessories. He has decorated the North Shore Country Club on Long Island, NY, as well as a Park Avenue apartment for celebrity clients from the Broadway theater in New York City. In 2002, he began work on a New York townhouse, formerly owned by actress/singer Julie Andrews, a hotel in Florida, and the American ambassadorial residence in Dublin, Ireland. And that, it might be noted, is the shortened and condensed story.
Varney earned degrees from Oberlin College, NYU and University of Charleston. He joined the Dorothy Draper firm in 1965.