Carpet design

Consider blue and white, says Carleton Varney

I love classics, and there isn’t much more classic in decorating than blue and white. This is one of my favorite color combinations for living in Palm Beach.

And the nautical combo seems especially perfect for the summer. It reminds me of deep blue umbrellas and crisp white beach towels.

Here is a blue and white scheme for a living room as pleasant and relaxing as a day by the sea.

Let’s start by painting the walls a rich navy blue, completed on the ceiling with a soft dusty blue. All woodwork will be sparkling white.

These blue walls will definitely make your windows shine. To accentuate this beautiful effect, hang bright blue and white plaid fabric from white rings on white painted poles and make sure the curtains are lined with white linen. Beneath the curtains, hang roller blinds in a rich navy blue to match the walls. These days, you can find roller shades in a host of so-called designer colors.

I love sofas and club chairs upholstered in white linen, perhaps with rich blue piping. When upholstering with white fabrics, make sure upholstered chairs and sofas are covered with muslin or light-colored upholstery. After all, you don’t want dark fabric patterns showing through white upholstery. If, however, the upholstered parts are dark, you should order covers that have their own linings.

Accent chairs can be upholstered in a blue and white print.

More from Carleton Varney: Watermelon serves as a juicy decorating scheme

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You might want to whitewash your floors then accent them with blue and white sisal rugs, a perfect look for the beach.

Decorating today offers such a variety of possibilities that were unheard of years ago. As with blinds, sisal is now available in colors, as well as multi-colored patterns. Herringbone, block, stripe – you name the design and sisal will come in patterns that work in a variety of settings.

For the lamps in your new living room, choose ceramic bases, like the classic calabash-shaped ones designed by Christopher Spitzmiller, one of my favorite manufacturers. Its lamps are available in all colors, including light blue, deep blue, skipper blue and turquoise blue. What a wonderful world of colors.

We’ll also want to accent your white upholstered pieces with throw pillows in a variety of shades of blue. And how about a rich sunny yellow throw pillow or two for a little sunshine?

For wooden furniture – perhaps a coffee table or side tables – you could go for white, but you could also consider a Swedish antique piece or two.

Now wouldn’t you look great sitting in your new living room in a navy jacket over a white ensemble?


Palm Beach resident Carleton Varney is president and owner of Dorothy Draper & Co.

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 Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. Her new book is called “The Draper Touch: The High Life and High Style of Dorothy Draper”. Visit or email him at [email protected] Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.