Carleton Varney on Marilyn’s Roxbury Style

The newlyweds in Arthur Miller’s garage at Roxbury, 1956 ( a year before they bought another home together)

Interior designer Carleton Varney was consulted by Marilyn and Arthur Miller in 1957, after they bought an 18th century farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. The property was in need of renovation, and according to Architectural Digest, the couple ‘added sliding glass doors to its rear façade and created a one-room studio where the playwright could work.’

Varney writes about Marilyn’s personal style in an article for Palm Beach Daily News. Her preference for simplicity is in marked contrast to her glamorous public image.

The Millers purchased this Roxbury farmhouse in 1957

“I met Marilyn only once in my life, when she was married to Arthur Miller, the playwright. At that time, she divided her time between Connecticut and her New York City apartment on 57th Street.

Marilyn was not, shall we say, energetically enthusiastic about the ways and styles of interior design. Her tastes were simple. She expressed her personal style as more ‘cottage’ than ‘High Hollywood’ — a simple white clapboard house, say, or a California stucco-clad ranch home. A white picket fence was more Marilyn, I believe, than any fancy grill-work iron gate on a Beverly Hills mansion. I think her design preferences reflected her pre-Hollywood roots as Norma Jean Baker.

I have always said that taste develops in one’s earliest days, probably from the very first room one can recall … Like Marilyn, most of us have a comfort zone that makes us happy and content. And if the look of high glamour does not fit you, don’t go that way! Stick to a style of decorating that suits you and reflects the adventures you have enjoyed in life.”

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