Darryl Carter ✦ On the Internet

Darryl Carter
In the living room, a sofa designed by Carter and an Italian nail-studded armchair are upholstered in oatmeal linen and Edelman Leather's dyed cowhide, repsectively; the round antique table is from Scottish Connection.

Darryl Carter's Website

Darryl Carter, The New Traditional on Facebook

The New Traditional by Darryl Carter

Darryl Carter video for Benjamin Moore

Darryl Carter designs for The Urban Electric Company

Darryl Carter designs for Frontgate

Darryl Carter designs for Threads by Lee Jofa

Darryl Carter Designs for Thomasville

Promotional shoot for The New Traditional

VT Interiors

Habitually Chic

Please Sir

Room Lust

Darryl Carter on Google Search

Darryl Carter on Google Images

Darryl Carter / at home

At Home with Darryl Carter

At Home magazine
Summer 2010

A master at blending classic and modern, this leading designer reveals his favorite fabric, go-to paint colors, and tricks of the trade for creating a comfortable, timeless home.

What inspires me... The evolution of design. All things return to their historical reference. The iconic Egg chair, for instance, is a modern offspring of the wing chair. For me, this is why the modern and the antique marry so well.

My design motto is... Good design is everlasting. Avoid trends.

Latest obsession... Not obsessing. It helps with a little thing called mental health.

Top summer vacation spot... My tiny cottage in The Plains, Virginia. Sequestered by a 150-foot, wisteria-covered pergola, it is bygone in its simplicity and gentility - an absolute departure from my city home. At night, hung with lanterns, the pergola is a veritable allée, which is absolutely enveloping when in full bloom. I was struck by this property for years in passing, and one day my real estate agent called to describe a new listing. I knew it instantly and bought it two days later.

Favorite paint shade other than white... If you insist on something "other than white" (Benjamin Moore Moonlight White is my go-to), I like Benjamin Moore Moonshine OC-56. It's a chalky, grayish, brownish, moody classic color.

Favorite fabric... Rogers & Goffigon linen, which has a phenomenal hand.

What I'm reading now... I have to admit that I am a little ADD, so I tend to read several books at once, which proves to be highly entertaining when I'm sharing my most recent reads with others. I love any historic biography. Right now I am reading American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, dovetailing with The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland by James Howley.

Favorite piece of furniture... The Carlton House desk in my study in Washington, D.C. It is an incredible form replete with all kinds of hidden drawers and depository hardware at its top, as I believe it was once used in a bank. Other than this piece, I like all things Campaign. I am fascinated by metamorphic furniture and its varied utility.

I love a home filled with... Good friends for a casual dinner with great wine.

I can't live without... Laughter, talking to my mother on the phone every day, and spending time with my three disobedient dogs, Otis, Lucy, and Gus. They are far more agreeable company than most human beings, especially at day's end. Man's best friend - no joke! Whoever first said that knew what they were talking about.

One thing you might not know about me... Every now and then, when inspired, I will take on a canvas and paint. Also, I am told that I have a wicked sense of humor.

Darryl Carter / The Urban Electric Company

DESIGNER: Darryl Carter, Washington, D.C.

Design Today
May 31, 2009

From the fall 2008 issue of Design Today: designer Darryl Carter discusses second homes

Darryl Carter is an attorney who left practice when his own home landed on the cover of Metropolitan Home. Thereafter, he received a number of would-be client inquiries which finally led him to open his own firm. Darryl has had a furniture collection with NeimanMarcus and currently has a collection at Thomasville, as well as Frontage and The Urban Electric Company, with others in the works. His book The New Traditional (Random House/ Clarkson Potter) has had a record reception.


Modern, traditional, collected

Your second home ideal:

The one that got away -- a mid-century concrete warehouse, former hydro-electric plant, buttressed by a cascading dam, surrounded by a multitude of grain silos in the remote Virginia countryside.

Popular second home locales for your clients:

All places remote.

Are most of your second home projects executed as designs for new or existing properties?

They generally tend to be renovations of historic properties.

What’s different about designing/decorating for primary residences vs. vacation homes?

Commissions other than primary residences tend to be geared toward comfort. So, the vocabulary is always a fascinating departure from the principal home.

How important is low-maintenance? Energy efficiency? Technology? Spaces for entertaining? Use of green/sustainable products?

As most of these commissions have been historic, the primary emphasis has been the use of reclaimed materials to respect the original architecture. This can often involve exhaustive hunts for just the right element, right down to the door knocker.

Do your clients spend more or less on second homes as compared to their primary residences?

I think sometimes my clients are more passionate about their second homes given the intensity of their lifestyles. The retreat has great significance.

Does old money decorate differently than new money?

I find that most of the clients who engage me have a very specific design sense.

What’s in?

My clients tend toward quiet palettes and time-honored forms from the modern to the antique.

If you were invited to design a new line of furnishings for the second home market, what would your product line consist of?

I would be consistent with my penchant for the eclectic mixture of things sensing old and new. I would probably be more creative with finishes and textiles that could support climate changes.

Gordone Beall

In Conversation with Darryl Carter

By Iván Meade
Meade Design Group
May 17, 2009

Darryl Carter has progressively become a renowned design influence. His work is routinely featured in major shelter publications. Likewise, he is highly active on the lecture circuit and he has appeared on a variety of television networks.

This has not gone unnoticed by the industry, as he continues to make his designs more accessible through a series of branding relationships throughout the home category. This past fall saw the publication of his first book, The New Traditional (Clarkson Potter) and the launch of Darryl Carter for Thomasville(www.thomasville.com/darrylcarter/), his new comprehensive full home collection with Thomasville Furniture, distinguished by the sensibility of having been collected over time and true to the design aesthetic that he has become known for.

Darryl also has a stunning lighting collection with The Urban Electric Company www.urbanelectricco.com, and this spring Frontgate www.frontgate.com will debut his first outdoor collection.

Carter specializes in calming environments with subtle colour palettes in which textures play off of one another and striking furniture layouts create one of a kind spaces. His mantra is that no two environments should be alike, just as no two individuals are alike. While keeping that in mind his environments exemplify the "New Traditional", incorporating clean design through the use of antiques and unique pieces that give his spaces a sense of grace and comfort. Simple moldings and architectural details painted out in chalky off-whites create a crisp envelope respectful of the architecture and furniture pieces. Spaces are distinguished by personal effects such as antique books, art and artifacts which evoke memories of days past. Patina is shown with pride. Intricate patterns such as herringbone or marquetry with borders are created with tile work alongside a delicately arabesque-shaped railing with a contrasting stain. Ambient lighting is sensitive to the mood of a room and window treatments are the simplest wooden shutters or linen drapery. The goal is that each environment is welcoming, graceful, timeless and foremost reflective of the individual.

Please read on to learn more about Darryl Carter and his work...

Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?

Darryl Carter: I think I have always had a penchant for the aesthetic arts. My mother seems to have a memory of me moving furniture around my small childhood bedroom at age 6.

Who or what has influenced your style?

I have a very dear friend who is presently an antiques dealer in New York. We go way back. Her mother was very forward in her design. When others were doing circular sofas and shag carpet, she had the most austere 19th century farmhouse with no embellishments, simple American furniture, Pre-Colombian artifacts and the moodiest portraiture, all simply placed. These spaces continue to speak to me.

What was the career change like from lawyer to designer?

The career change was freeing and perhaps immanent. But for serendipity, it may not have happened. It’s a complicated tale, but the short version is that I was a weekend warrior and on the side I was exercising my passion by re-doing and flipping real estate. One of the properties I lived in landed on the cover of Metropolitan Home and I received a number of phone calls requesting private commissions. And so, the career change had begun.

What designers of past and present do you admire most?

Thomas Jefferson, as architect; Jorn Utzon, his biography and work; Van Day Truex, as a visionary; Bill Blass, for his Connecticut Home and so many others.

What do you consider to be your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?

One in the same: my passion for what I do.

What do you look for in a furniture piece, alternatively what do you consider as being important factors when designing a furniture piece?

Purity, grace of line and multi-function.

Are there any design rules that you think were meant to be broken?

All rules are meant to be broken. This is evolution.

What has been your greatest collaboration?

I cannot speak to this; I am bound to step on several toes. I have had many.

What books are currently on your bedside or coffee table?

Avoid Boring People by James D Watson; The Last Campaign, Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days that Inspired America by Thurston Clarke; Original Story by Arthur Laurents and Audels Carpenters and Builders Guides #1 – #4 by Frank D. Graham – Chief and Thomas J. Emery – Associate.

What are you excited about right now in the world of design?

I am seeing a more liberated risk-taking consumer that is in search of self-expression in the home, rather than manufactured environments that are formulaic.

What would be your dream project?

I am working on my dream project. The renovation of my new office in a pre-civil war building in a very vibrant, emergent part of the District of Columbia.

What project has given you the most satisfaction?

My residence which will never be complete, it is my laboratory.

What is your next design venture?

I am working on multiple home license deals and a television show.

Lastly, you have already created a stunning body of work with many mediums and styles. What would you like your legacy to be?

A respect and appreciation for the simple.

Check out the June issue of Metropolitan Home Magazine's "Design 100" featuring editor's picks of the top 100 designs of the year. Among their picks is the Triple Bel Air Bench from Darryl Carter's collection for Thomasville.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Darryl's Advice


Darryl Carter approaches the Darryl Carter ® for Thomasville ® furniture collection as he does his own interiors. Discover how to creatively redefine your home. Courtesy of Thomasville ®.

Click on each image to view large.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #1 Elevate to expand. Enhance the sense of space within a room by placing furniture pieces that are elevated — uncovered canopies, tall legs — that allow light to flow through and around.

Furniture that hugs the floor can visually crowd a room with its mass and block the flow of light. To visually expand a small space or lend serenity to any room, choose furniture that is graceful in its architecture. Here, light from tall windows washes freely through the open frame of the Savannah poster bed, Wellington center table (left), Rowman’s cellaret, Bel Air bench, Collette chair and the pierced frame of the Cape standing floor mirror.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #2 Fine tune style with finish mix. Dark finishes impart an air of formality; light woods strike a more relaxed or contemporary chord. Adjust the mix to reflect your personal level of comfort.

Here, a highly restrained color palette focuses attention on the scene’s tonal and graphic elements. A soft driftwood finish on the versatile Rollins pedestal side table relaxes its classic architecture and substantial presence. Its shared provenance with the accompanying low-key Repertoire bed makes the two comfortable companions. The setting is further harmonized by the bed’s mottled tortoise finish and brown linens echo the dark inset leather top on the table.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #3 Think thin. Including a slender, vertical furniture element in a room’s landscape adds naturally pleasing height variety while utilizing a sometimes challenging narrow space.

The 60-inch tall Repertoire semainier chest makes a graceful statement with its slender height and refined proportions. The adjacent poster bed mirrors the verticality with an open frame that’s statuesque, but not overpowering. A semainier offers an attractive way to enhance and utilize a narrow wall space while providing eminently useful storage for small items like socks and scarves. Oxidized hardware on the tortoise finish picks up the bed’s darker tone.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #4 Find perfection in imperfection. Think counter intuitively as you evolve your space.

It's easy to become preoccupied with perfection. Faultless matching creates a static environment. Your home should have individual expression. Even in this carefully thought out setting, rumpled bed linens on the Savannah poster bed and casual magazines on the versatile Herald storage bench paint a less-than-perfect picture, setting a tone of ease that makes the room feel more welcoming.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #5 Add dimensionality through the subtle integration of texture. A blended mix of materials makes a room feel less methodical and thoughtful in terms of its furniture pairing.

Patinated finishes, worn rugs, crackled leather, distressed wood — a captivating mix of textures and materials creates visual depth and a collected, timeworn look that welcomes you to experience a space. Accessories atop the Marc server are united by their graphically simple forms and subtle relationships to each other. Finish color ties the modern metal lamp to the very traditional Belgravia mirror, whose texture, in turn, echoes the repetitive pattern on the round Eyelet vase.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #6 Add architecture to a space. Here the salon screen adds instant architecture and volume to the space.

Darryl Carter's new traditional style succeeds by not taking itself too seriously. The Wesex wing chair is a good example. While classic in its form, the design is distinctly modern. Its scale makes it suitable as a standalone accent chair or unorthodox head chair for dining or paired at a partners desk.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #7 Be true to your lifestyle. Successful rooms are comfortable, enduring and suit your individual lifestyle. Think about how you actually live in a space. Avoid trend. A room should not need to be redecorated once furnished.

Good design accommodates how you really live. For instance, to relieve formality in a dining room, place chairs that are in a different finish than the table. Likewise a settee in lieu of chairs can make a dining room more welcoming. Add an elegant lamp on top of the Wellington table beside a comfortable Bowman chair and ottoman. All these together create an instant reading niche. Create a collected sense by integrating different finishes so that rooms don’t feel instant or static. You and your guests will welcome the personal, comfortable, enduring environment of a home that feels lived in.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #8 Maintain the intimate appearance of a room without overwhelming it with more furniture than you would routinely use.

The Bel Air bench brings a sculptural quality and function to any room. Placed under a foyer table it lends a discreet sculptural element but can be pulled out to accommodate extra guests in the living room. Likewise, it can work well in a bathroom holding your waiting towel. At once formal and relaxed, its graceful lines complement classic settings and accent modern ones.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #9 Allow beautiful furnishings to shine. A neutral setting respects the sculptural lines or architectural features of the furniture elements in your room. This a good place to start before integrating color or pattern.

If you choose your furniture for its beauty as well as its utility, it makes sense to show it in its best light. By silhouetting forms against neutral backdrops, intriguing details and sculptural lines are coaxed to speak. Here, the subtle simplicity of the classic Jared chest takes on accessible stature against white walls and an unorthodox whitewashed floor. The intricate surface of the Belgravia mirror above draws out the chest’s dappled tortoise finish.

Darryl Carter / Thomasville / HGTV

Tip #10 Maintain a balance. Maintain harmony and interest within a room by balancing furnishings and architectural features in one area of a room with elements of similar scale on the opposing side.

It’s tempting to crowd furniture around an inviting focal point like a fireplace or picture window. But like balancing passengers in a small boat, it’s advisable to keep the weight of a room evenly distributed. There are various ways to achieve this: Situate furnishings away from walls. In the context of larger spaces, create multiple seating environments within a single room to accommodate both small and large gatherings. Oppose a substantial furniture piece like the Tabard secretary perhaps opposite an equally important architectural element within a room such as a fireplace or large painting.

Gordone Beall

A Chat With Darryl Carter

This designer and former attorney likes to take a rational approach to interiors to create a sense of restrained elegance

by Molly Pastor
Southern Accents
May/June 2008

Washington, D.C., designer Darryl Carter grew up in Maryland, graduated from Georgetown law school, and spent his early years as an attorney, so his penchant for classic, rational interiors is understandable. But what makes us return to his work again and again is his ability to take the refined and loosen it up a bit. He chooses his words as sparingly and thoughtfully as he does accessories, all for an extremely well-edited mix.

Southern Accents: What does a Darryl Carter space look and feel like?

Darryl Carter: Rooms should be both beautiful and functional. A number of my commissions are predominated by art, so the objective is to create rooms that respect those objects while remaining intimate. An environment should be welcoming, and this is achieved by using approachable textiles and integrating timeworn objects.

Your rooms are classic, very up-to-date, and never trendy. How do you make traditional look so fresh?

By pairing classic, time-honored forms with unorthodox textiles. Many antique pieces have a striking simplicity when executed in an unexpected fabric. Typically, I juxtapose these pieces against modern art in a relatively monochrome palette.

What designers, past and present, inspire you?

First, I would start with architect John Pawson. Picture a modern, glass box on a very private beach, with landscapes inspired by the late Dan Kiley. Also, Thomas Jefferson. Monticello is as brilliant today as it was when it was designed. Bill Blass' Connecticut home was perfection. And I admire Axel Vervoordt for his dexterity.

We've noticed that you use mostly solid fabrics. What do you do if your clients request rooms with patterns and prints?

I deliver them with a restrained palette, often using patterned material on its reverse so that it does not graphically overwhelm, but rather suggests more of a watercolor. This generally produces visual calm. The trick is a sensitivity to scale and balance.

Are there things that you feel have to be new and some pieces that you prefer to be antique?

I love the patina of a well-worn antique, but on a practical note, a credible reproduction might work just as well. Upholstered pieces can be better new for comfort. Good is good.

Name some of your favorite artists who complement your style.

I have a tremendous respect for Cy Twombly, Willem de Kooning, Franz Klein, and Pablo Picasso's early sculptures. And I support a number of emerging artists, including William Willis, Mahmoud Hamadani, Meredith Pardue, and Linn Meyers.

What's next on your horizon?

I have a book titled The New Traditional (Clarkson Potter, 2008, $45) that is expected to be available by early fall. It is a beautifully illustrated "self-help" guide to creating your own interior. I also have a home collection for Thomasville, debuting this spring at High Point Market and coming out this fall. It's very diverse and speaks to a range of tastes -- I wanted to give people varied and accessible options so that no two homes are alike.

Darryl Carter

Darryl Carter's Look

And How to Get It

By Jura Koncius
The Washington Post
April 12, 2007

Darryl Carter, working from inherent good taste rather than formal training, has achieved something quite rare in the world of interior decorating: a signature look.

You see it featured in the pages of glossy magazines and in local design houses. You see it in the rooms of his upscale clients and in the furniture and lighting collections he has designed. You see it the minute you step into his five-story townhouse on Embassy Row in Northwest Washington.

The Look pairs extravagant with affordable, perfect with imperfect. Polished surfaces play against pitted wooden artifacts. Antiques converse with bold modern art. Creamy white walls rise above coffee-dark floors. Deliberate symmetry is jolted by a bit of appealing disarray.

The yin-yang balance, refined over nine years in the business, has brought the lawyer-turned-designer to the top tier of Washington decorating. "You have to make the environment pleasing to the eye but comfortable enough to live in," says Carter, putting down a glass of iced tea -- directly, no coaster -- on the well-worn pine table in his breakfast room overlooking Rock Creek Park. "It has to be both practical and beautiful."

Carter has not followed the usual path to design. Growing up in Bethesda, he was always fascinated with art and architecture. Though he dreamed of studying design, he graduated from Georgetown law school and joined a law firm. But along the way, he was continually buying properties and fixing them up: a Capitol Hill townhouse, an apartment in Dupont Circle and another in Kalorama's Altamont building.

By then it was 1997 and Carter was coming into his own. Metropolitan Home's design director, Linda O'Keeffe, ran his elegant white and beige place in the Altamont on the cover of the magazine with the headline "The New Traditional." After being published in a book on Washington interiors the following year ("Private Washington," Rizzoli), Carter found himself in the decorating business.

The path to a new career has given Carter a chance to refurbish Georgian houses, lofts and farms for CEOs and art collectors. In 2001, he designed a furniture collection for Neiman Marcus, and last year he introduced classically inspired lighting for Urban Electric Co. He has appeared on HGTV's "Dream House" series. Most recently, he signed a deal with Thomasville for a line of home furnishings and has collaborated with high-end catalogue retailer Frontgate. He published a coffee-table book on his style in 2008.

His home on Massachusetts Avenue, once the Embassy of Oman chancery, is a case study in The Look. The breakfast-room chairs may be prized Gustavian antiques, but the seats are unpretentious imitation leather. Some of the white ironstone pitchers and platters arranged against a pale blue wall date back to England, 1800; others to Ikea, 2007. Three black-and-white photos of Carter's German short-haired pointer, Otis, have been elevated to art. Two-foot pewter candlesticks still have wax drips from a recent gathering. "You light the candles and throw a big bowl of spaghetti on the table, and you have a great conversation, never worrying about the wax or putting the hot plate on the table," Carter says.

The designer likes "signs of life" in a home, such as the crackled top on an old burled table and the scratches on his ebonized floors; he invites guests to bring their dogs. "A house should be a respite, not a hotel room."

Clients seeing the place are drawn to the sense of serenity, sophistication and comfort. "I remember sitting in the living room and saying to Darryl, 'You could just do this room for me,' " recalls David Goodhand, a Microsoft technology specialist who has hired Carter to design a Foggy Bottom condo. Although there will be a lot of high-end pieces, he knows Carter will keep in mind Goodhand's 8-year-old son. "Don't choose things that are so precious that you are fearful of using them," the designer says.

O'Keeffe of Met Home magazine still follows Carter's work and believes he has an even more confident hand today. "He pares down traditional so it becomes modern and contemporary," she says.