PaperCity Magazine

March 2019- Houston

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ART + DECORATION 74 W hat's the very first room you r e m e m b e r ? Did it have wood floors? A park view? That room is the beginning of your taste, according to decorator Carleton Varney, and it's at the core of what he dubs your "decorating DNA." "The thing is, taste is like a fog. You can see the fog roll in over the sea, but you can't touch it. Everyone has a certain taste that is part of them," Varney said during a recent visit to Decorative Center Houston to celebrate the launch of Dorothy Draper Fabrics & Wallcoverings at Ken Kehoe & Company showroom. Varney joined Dorothy Draper & Company — the namesake firm of the doyenne of preppy American decorating — in 1960, and bought the firm four years later. Over the course of his 58-year career, he has decorated the storied Greenbrier in West Virginia, The Breakers in Palm Beach, and The Stoneleigh in Dallas, as well as homes for celebrities and dignitaries. He's also written more than 30 books. At Ken Kehoe showroom, Varney dished about decorating in the style of Mrs. D. — how to get the Draper touch — over Draper-era ambrosia salad and popovers served with a potent Dorothy Rhododendron cocktail (white rum, .75 ounces Triple Sec, juice of half a lime, and 1 ounce grenadine). Draper could notoriously mix 16 prints in a room and make it work because, according to Varney, she had an epic sense of imagination and fantasy but also understood scale and geographic context. "Dressing a room is like dressing yourself," Varney said. "You know, color in design doesn't cost extra," said Brinsley Matthews, the firm's executive vice president and director of design. Color has always been at the forefront of the company, even when everyone else was decorating with beige. STRAIGHT UP WITH A SPLASH OF COLOR ANNE LEE PHILLIPS WHILES AWAY THE AFTERNOON WITH CARLETON VARNEY. IMAGE PROVIDED COURTESY DOROTHY DRAPER & COMPANY, INC. The Geranium Lobby at The Grand Hotel MIKE WYATT / COURTESY OF DOROTHY DRAPER & COMPANY, INC. Carleton Varney in the Victorian Writing Room at The Greenbrier Varney recalls, "When I went to Draper in the early '60s, when Mrs. D. was still popping around, she would come to all the decorators' desks and say, 'Show me nothing that looks like gravy.'" Joan Crawford, an early client of Varney's, was a notorious method actress. "She literally became the person she was playing," he said. "So when you were working with her, you'd often wonder who she was today. Soon he honed in on her decorating DNA — being a neat freak with plastic covers on the furniture and towels under fresh flowers — and continued to design many more apartments for her. For Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, simplicity was at their core. "I loved the Carters. Their DNA was who they were: They loved the simplicity of country living. I did their house in Plains and their log cabin in Ellijay. Jimmy made all of the furniture for it — and he could make better furniture than the Shakers." Dorothy Draper Fabrics & Wallcoverings to the trade at Ken Kehoe, Decorative Center Houston, "IN THE EARLY '60S, WHEN MRS. D. WAS STILL POPPING AROUND THE OFFICE, SHE WOULD COME TO ALL THE DECORATORS' DESKS AND SAY, 'SHOW ME NOTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE GRAVY.'" — Carleton Varney A erin Lauder is expanding her Aerin lifestyle brand with a collaboration of shades and drapery for The Shade Store. "The collection was inspired by my home in the Hamptons, which previously belonged to my grandmother [Estée Lauder]," she says. "Several rooms in the house have richly patterned wallpaper and drapery, and through the years I've made changes while honoring her vision. This collection is inspired by that mix, which makes a room feel more personal and individual." Aerin for The Shade Store features nine geometric and nature-inspired patterns in painterly blue, pink, gray, and chocolate brown, and are handcrafted by a U.S. artisan and ship free in an impressive 10 days or less — hard to beat for custom. At The Shade Store, Decorative Center Houston; The Shade Store, 4022 Westheimer Road, Highland Village; Anne Lee Phillips IN THE SHADE WITH AERIN Aerin Lauder's East Hampton kitchen; shades are Exotic Floral Aerin for The Shade Store

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