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Westminster Dog Show musings from Best-in-Show Sadie's decorator

Posted on November 03 2016

By CARLETON VARNEY

Special to the Daily News

A belated hello from Westminster — and I don't mean the cathedral! I mean the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden, and my trip to New York a couple of Tuesdays ago wasn't easy.

The plan was to leave West Palm Beach on Jet Blue's 11:15 a.m. flight and arrive at 2-ish, but the snow in New York wasn't cooperating with flight schedules.

Even so, the far-away weather, however, didn't stop me and my associate, Brinsley Matthews, from leaving Palm Beach International, although our departure was delayed until around 1:30 p.m. We arrived in New York at around 5, and then it was on to the Westminster show at 8 to see the dogs compete in the Terrier Class and, later, the Best in Show competition, which was won by Sadie, the beautiful Scottish terrier owned by my friends and clients, Amelia and Dan Musser. The Musser family owns Grand Hotel, that wonderful summer resort on Mackinac Island on Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Amelia and Dan have been enjoying their love of the four-legged for more than 50 years. My family and I have always owned a Roundtown Kennel dog or a dog recommended by Amelia and Dan, who own Roundtown Kennels.

When designing spaces — whether public rooms, bedrooms or restaurants at the Grand, I have always, in some ways, been designing for the dogs, paying tribute to them via the appointments hanging on walls that depict dogs of different breeds. Many is the bedroom suite where a framed painting of a Scottie or a Westie is hung on the wall. At the hotel, in a restaurant called Woods, you'll find Bobby's Bar, named for one of the Musser winners, whose life is presented on the walls through pictures, photographs, sculptures and even framed blue, red, yellow and white award ribbons.

While the Musser family has won ribbons for their dogs all across America, no ribbon could top the grandest prize of all: America's finest dog, as chosen at New York's Westminster dog show.

I'm scheduled to be back on the air on HSN several times today and among the designs I've added to my collection is a dog bed in one of my newest fabric designs. I'll also be displaying some new Staffordshire Dog figurines. So is Carleton Varney a dog enthusiast? Yes, to be certain — in the design of needle-pointed pillows, pictures, figurines, bookends, lamp bases, fabrics, wallpapers, rug patterns, even antique-plaque wall hangers. All over the world, in every culture, there have been dogs to immortalize in interior design, and I shall continue to do my part, wherever I go and in whatever I do, interior design-wise.

And speaking of dog beds, there are many stylish versions around these days. My Palm Beach neighbor Christina, once one of the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, has in her lakefront residence a much-loved dog named Happy. And I must say, Happy has a beautiful bed, right next to her "mother's" with a view of the south bridge — and her bed is canopied, just like Christina's.

Americans love their dogs, and I, being one of the dog lovers, totally approve of decorating for dogs. In fact, when asked who I was at the press "after party" at Madison Square Garden, I replied, "I'm the Best-in-Show-dog Sadie's decorator!"

I guess I am, considering that I have decorated the homes in which her mother and daddy dwell.

* Interior decorator and author Carleton Varney owns Dorothy Draper & Co. in New York City, among the country's oldest interior design firms. His roster of clients includes many in Palm Beach. He welcomes comments and decorating questions.

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