The Style Files: Darryl Carter

DC_Headshot_Steve Procko_LDV

Any time I think of modern American design, Darryl Carter always comes to mind. It is no coincidence that his first book was called The New Traditional— after all, Darryl’s work is the perfect marriage of classic style and a modern sensibility. Important antiques blend seamlessly with modern pieces within the beautiful environments created by Darryl where patina is worn as a badge of honor. Darryl works almost exclusive in neutral palettes, pairing crisp white walls and upholstery with warm wood and metal finishes. Each space he crafts is undoubtedly elegant and timeless while maintaining an effortless ease. I personally love the way in which he brings together pieces from various periods and places in the world to create a perfectly layered look that is always “distinctly Darryl” and distinctly modern American.

Darryl Carter was originally an attorney who spent his free time decorating his own home and dabbling in real estate. When one of the homes he had done landed on the cover of Metropolitan Home years ago, the phone started to ring and his transition from attorney to full time interior designer began to take shape. Today, Darryl is one of the foremost interior designers in the country, having been named to nearly every list of top design talent by the most important shelter publications and having had his work published extensively. A true talent with a fiercely discerning eye, Darryl is among the best editors when it comes to design. He has a true mastery when it comes to employing restraint as he curates, rather than merely decorating a space. I am thrilled and honored to have had the opportunity to interview a designer I find so inspiring. The icing on the cake may just be his sense of humor, as you’ll see in this installment of The Style Files. Enjoy!

Snip20150410_79Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Darryl Carter: I am prone to marrying things that are highly classical together with very linear modern. I think together these create the perfect counter balance, and avoid an otherwise uninteresting monolith of sameness. This would be my firm’s ethos – we are very purposeful in our effort to create timeless rooms.


PC: What does your home say about you?

DC: My own home is an amalgam of my travels … art that very much speaks to me, and occasionally a very rare antique in the company of primitives and found objects. The most monumental of which is the plaster model infrastructure for a bronze horse by sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett whose works are seen in public spaces around the world.

darryl carter kitchen elle decor simon upton

{The Kitchen in Darryl Carter’s Washington, D.C. Home as featured in ELLE DECOR | Photo by Simon Upton}

PC: What do you love most about your career?

DC: This profession is perhaps highly underestimated in terms of the multiple skill sets necessary to produce what in its aftermath seems like a simple white room. I feel this is an ideal opportunity to quote my father, who “forced” me to go to law school. “What’s so hard about hanging a drape?” Pre-construction blocking in walls to support the curtain rod, because these tend to be very heavy – the rod which tends to be custom, has to be forged to perfection – the rings have to be such that they don’t scratch the pole – the pleats that come in varieties that I still can’t gather, pinched, goblet, etc. – the fabric that you choose invariably appears in a color that doesn’t match the sample shown to the client – and I personally prefer a one-inch break – – and let’s not forget the lining, and interlining and bump ….


PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

DC: I am fortunate to live in Washington, DC – on one of the most beautiful avenues in the city. The architecture never ceases to surprise me when I go on a routine run.


PC: Who are your personal style icons?

DC: Van de Truex, Mitorah, and Bill Blass for his Connecticut home.

{The Iconic Connecticut Home of the Late Bill Blass}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

DC: My vintage 1987 ragtop G-Wagon

g wagon

{A 1987 Mercedes G Wagon– This one has a hard top.}

PC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

DC: “Leave the dance with the person who brought you.” …. My parents always instilled upon me – no matter the situation – Always maintain your grace and integrity.


PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

DC: I am a history buff, and fascinated by biographies in which heroism defeats the greatest of odds.


{Darryl Carter’s Home in Washington, D.C. as Photographed by Simon Upton for ELLE DECOR}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

DC: It would involve a very remote and inaccessible retreat with a distant ocean, slightest breeze and no means of communication.”


PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

DC: I’m beginning work on a third book … We are in the process of developing a very bespoke restaurant in DC, several tech spaces on the West Coast, together with hotels and two very well known licensed home product collaborations.

Snip20150410_81{A Stack of Darryl’s First Book, The New Traditional. His second book, The Collected Home is also available as we anticipate the release of his third book.| Image via @darrylcarterdesign on Instagram}



Go-To Outfit: My wardrobe predominantly consists of a hybrid of very architectural clothing that I’ve added vintage embellishments to … Most of my clothes I design myself. Necessity is the mother of invention – It is often difficult for me to find clothing that fits my frame. I don’t want this to sound like it’s seeming to sound, but the truth is – I just like to make stuff and claim it as my own.

Style Mantra: Simple

Scent: Interesting question – I have a fragrance that I’ve developed, and offer it as a candle in my store. A friend of mine recently went to a dinner party, and immediately upon entering said the host and hostess’ home smelled like “Darryl” (my fragrance).

Piece of Jewelry: I collect vintage watches.

Color I Never Tire Of: Interiors / White – – Clothing / Ink Blue with White

Flower: White Peonies

Hostess Gift: A book on a subject that thoughtfully suits the interest of the recipient.

Meal: An awesome thin crust pizza with white Moroccan anchovy.

Drink: Small batch white Tequila

City: Mexico City

Artist: Purvis Young

Song: “The Emperor’s March” / Bach – – “Breakin’ Dishes” / Rihanna

Risk Worth Taking: Did It

Actor: Me at a client meeting.

Rule to Break: Not a fan of rules

3 Dream Dinner Guests: Jorb Utzon, Steve Jobs and Ayn Rand

Paloma Signature

{Images by Gordon Beall unless Otherwise Noted, Courtesy of Darryl Carter}

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  1. Paloma I have Darryl, book The Collected Home and love it! So inspired, layered, and collected in his design aesthetic!

    The Arts by Karena