Don't Forget the Glamour!

Don't Forget the Glamour!

By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

The recent Academy Awards presentation found me flipping channels. The Oscars certainly didn’t captivate me, and I tried to find something fun or fanciful or interesting or historical to watch instead.

The Oscars weren’t my cup of tea this year because like so many of us, I didn’t go to the theater to see any new movies because of the coronavirus pandemic. I also was familiar with only a few of the presenters. Brad Pitt remains a recognizable face as does the talented Glenn Close.

My disenchantment with the ceremony was odd, as I love movies. But I also love glamour, the sort of glamour the big screen once captured. Think about when Ginger Rogers was Fred Astaire’s dance partner — although I know younger readers are probably asking: Who?

The movie sets of Hollywood’s Golden Age so often depicted rooms to remember, while influencing the styles we once lived with. Do you remember criss-cross white organza curtains with ruffled borders? Check out the interiors in movies from the 1940s and ’50s — perhaps a Ray Milland or a Joan Crawford picture — and you’ll see plenty of them. Lovely!

I have been promoting glamour and advising clients about it for all of my career. Even in a simple beach house or a mountain log cabin, there is still glamour to be found.

Here are a few glamorous touches, not only worthy of a few reminiscences but also deserving of a place in today’s decorating world.

Chandeliers: I’m talking about the kind with crystals, often colored, and featuring lighted electric candles. Today’s sputnik designs with orbitals and spikes just don’t do it for me. Check out a good lighting store to see the variety of chandeliers available.

Curtained window treatments: There are so many window treatments that arrived on the market in the 1970s that, thankfully, are now passé. Think instead about adding glamour with valances, under curtains, trims, fringes and tassels. For a more casual look, louvered shutters or screen-style shades have replaced all those pull-down window blinds. Putting in a little extra thought into your window style can transform a room.

The right rug: In the mid-’50s and into the ’60s, area rugs bordered on becoming obsolete because the trend for stylish homes was a floor covered wall-to-wall in wool. Thankfully, today’s rug glamour is back, and the styles available are stunning. Gleaming wood floors say: Bring me an area rug. I have always had a preference for beautifully patterned rugs from Asia and the Middle East.

Candlelight: Candlelight is always a plus when you’re talking about glamour. Your fireplace mantel — if you have one — can sparkle with a row or two of crystal candlesticks lighted for a cocktail hour or a dinner party. I prefer a row of candlesticks that don’t match — some high, some low. At my home in Ireland, I have a succession of brass candlesticks sitting on my living room mantel that I light before every party to greet my guests upon their arrival. And if it’s too warm to light a fire, candles can look right at home in the fireplace.

Your outfit: You can dress for glamour, too. I think a velvet jacket should be in any gentleman’s wardrobe. For women, a touch of satin, silk or even lace speaks of elegance. Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman would never have come to dinner in ripped jeans. Yet today, when I see someone in such a pair, I want to send the wearer to the local shop to buy new ones.

Glamour is not just for yesterday, as far as I’m concerned. Embrace it for a stylish and elegant look that is always at home.


  • Mia Evans on

    I love that you talked about using valances under the curtains, trims, fringes, and tassels to add glamour to the window treatment we are getting. I will consider your idea when we get the new house filled up with accessories and furniture this May. It might even be within our budget to get handmade valances if we really want something unique to our home, especially when this is the first ever house we ever owned.

  • Lynn Beattie on

    The pandemic should have taught us all what you, Carleton, always knew …. beautiful surroundings make the best medicine! I was honored to take your decorating class and meet you in person!

    My entire family subscribes to bringing the colors outside to the inside. Beige is a dirty word!

    All the best, Lynn

  • Weenie Rush on

    I agree with everything you had to say above!
    Exquisite ideas and suggestions!
    I could swim in a Carlton Varney designed room forever.
    My heart explodes when a see any room designed by him.

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