Look to the sky for design inspiration

Last week during an interview, I asked a young woman: “Why did you decide to come to Palm Beach? What do you like about the town most?”

I was expecting a few different answers. Maybe climate? Or palm trees? Or beautiful homes? Or beaches? No! None of the above.

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Her answer was: “I love clouds.”

I agree. While I had never thought that “clouds” would be her answer, I believe that clouds around here are indeed unusual and captivating. Riding along South Ocean Boulevard, one cannot help but be mesmerized by the formations floating above, thanks to the the island’s lovely confluence of sea, lake and land — literally a perfect storm for water vapor, the building block of clouds.

From puffy to layered, from dense ripples to small shapes floating gently by, clouds are almost always on view in Palm Beach range in colors from deep slate to light gray, not to mention those bright white puffs.

Clouds also have made their way into the home of many Palm Beachers, whether they’re depicted on ceiling and wall murals or on fabric and wallpapers. Some years ago when designing a home on the island, I brought the cloud look to the bedroom and bath of a woman who lived on Golfview Road. The clouds were delicately painted on the bedroom ceiling and on the walls in the adjoining bathroom. We selected formations that were light and airy with an amusing, whimsical spirit.

At a hotel in Hartford, Conn., where I once stayed during a visit to Wesleyan College graduation ceremony, the headboard wall was completely covered in a cloud scene — thanks to a photo mural. I thought the scene depicted was a bit ominous, as the blue sky was quite dark, but I accepted the spirit in which the mural was created. It seemed to say: Let us sleep away and dream in the clouds.

My son, Sebastian Varney, who heads Carleton V Ltd., has a wallcovering design in the company’s collection called simply Clouds. The design has been used in many of our decorating projects, including the walls of Café 155, which fronts South County Road at The Colony. The café is popular for sandwiches and deli delights, and we thought it would be lovely to let folks enjoy their lunch while sitting among the clouds.

I find also find cloud wallpaper a great choice for nurseries, especially patterns with a mix of pink and blue. As with grass green and sky blue — colors borrowed from nature — clouds can find a place just about anywhere in your home, from bath to bedroom, and in entry halls, party rooms, spas and hallways.

Why not look to the sky when you’re seeking inspiration for your next decorating project?


Palm Beacher Carleton Varney is president of Dorothy Draper & Co., an international design firm with offices in New York, West Palm Beach, London and White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Visit CarletonVarney.com or email him at [email protected].


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