The late actress Betty White lived a long, long life, and fans around the world mourned her death in December, just days shy of her 100th birthday. Animal shelters have since been inundated with donations in his memory. And flowers were placed at her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

But the house where she and her late husband, Allen Ludden, lived for many years is not a mansion or a villa.

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Built in 1952, the two-story house is an example of the colonial-inspired New England style that inspired so many homes of its day – so light and charming. Surely there must have been a white picket fence around the property at some point.

The home sold this month for around $10.68 million after being listed for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty – Pacific Palisades Brokerage.

Betty White Challenge

The house is the image of happiness, with its exposed stones, its white clapboards, its shutters and its canary yellow front door. I would like to see the buyer keep it intact, although it has been marketed for its land value and news reports say it is likely to be razed.

I remember visiting Betty in 1991 when she came to the University of Charleston in West Virginia to receive an honorary degree from our school of design. I had the honor of presenting him with the learned hood during the ceremony.

During dinner after the presentation, we sat next to each other and talked about his favorite subject, animals. Betty’s well-known care and concern for their welfare inspired the university to award her the degree.

During her visit, the Emmy-winning star of “The Golden Girls” was dressed in pale green and country garden white, as graduation month was in May.

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Betty said she liked the simple life. She spoke of her love of the French provincial style and the country look of decorating.

The appearance of her home certainly spoke to her modest and friendly personality. You might never guess that the house was tucked away in an affluent neighborhood in the hills of Los Angeles. It looks like a house next door you could find anywhere across America.

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There are lessons to be learned here as you decorate your own home. Think about what makes you happy. In one of her books, for example, Betty wrote that she filled a room with stuffed animals because they brought her joy.

I can’t stop thinking about the house canary yellow trim. I like to see a front door painted in a bright color, something that will put a smile on whoever walks in.

In your own home, you can choose bold wallpaper for your entryway to greet you when you return home after a busy day.

Your sofa cushions can always be updated and rotated with the seasons and your mood. You can even add a favorite stuffed animal. Betty would definitely be okay with that!


Palm Beacher Carleton Varney is president of Dorothy Draper & Co., an international design firm with offices in New York, West Palm Beach, London and White Sulfur Springs, W.Va. His new book, which will be published in the spring, is titled “The High Life of Dorothy Draper.” Visit or email him at [email protected] Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

Palm Beach resident Carleton Varney is president and owner of Dorothy Draper & Co.