About a month ago, I visited mega-decorator Charlotte Moss in her Upper East Side brownstone to interview her for R.Home magazine. What fun! She was lovely and incredibly schooled on design history. She made me want to lock myself in her library until I’d finished reading all of the gorgeous design books lining her shelves. Like most successful people, Moss has obviously done her homework in life. And she isn’t afraid to pull from the past — and admit she’s doing it. She takes her favorite elements from famous women of style and synthesizes them into something entirely her own, that’s elegant, detailed, and always comfortable.
I asked Charlotte to explain this nook in the bedroom she designed for the “Designers Visions at The Laurel” decorator’s showhouse in which apartments were sponsored by magazines in The Laurel apartment building in New York. Moss decorated an apartment in the high rise for Veranda and it appeared on their cover in November. After hearing her answer, I think this photo is a great example of the level of detail in her work.
The Perfect Bedside Table
Moss sent a letter to all her clients asking them what attributes they like in a bedside table. She synthesized that feedback into this table. They wanted extra space on top so she created a pull-out slide for extra surface area. They wanted to make sure things wouldn’t fall off so she created a gallery ledge around the edge. A lower shelf is big enough for a basket to hold books and magazines. And, of course they wanted drawers, so she made drawers deep enough to hold a box of tissues, and all manner of remote controls. “It’s so nice not to have to have technology staring you in the face,” she says.
The Color of the Caribbean
As for the color palette of the room, Moss says the pale aqua blue with ivory combo felt right because of the glorious light in the apartment. “The color to me is like floating up in a cloud in a high rise,” she says. The seagrass wall covering is by Phillip Jeffries. The four-poster bed is a Moss signature. “It’s like a room within a room,” she says. “People always say there isn’t enough room, but what you really do is sleep in this room so just because you have a small room you don’t have to sacrifice the bed of your dreams.”
Italy in the Living Room
The challenge in decorating this apartment, Moss says, was warming up a cold, contemporary space. She was inspired to decorate the living room with warm oranges immediately after walking in and spotting the terracotta church roof out the window. And she liked that the whole family of colors seemed to be sunny and warm and sort of enveloping.
“When you do a showhouse you always say, ‘who is this person? Who am I designing for. This, I imagined to be a pied a terre of a couple who got married in Italy and came to New York and walked in, like I did, and saw that terracotta roof.” The velvet on the sofas is by Schumacher and the paintings are of Venice, further bringing Italy into the apartment.
See the Whole Apartment
Check out a 360-degree video of the apartment here. You can also see the apartments designed for House Beautiful by McAlpine Booth & Ferrier Interiors, for the now-defunct O at Home by D.C. designer Darryl Carter and for Town & Country by Stephen Siegel.
P.S. I couldn’t resist asking Charlotte what she thought about the Obamas’ choice of Michael Smith to decorate the White House. Here’s what she said:
“Oh I think Michael is a good choice. If I was going to decorate my own house, and I wasn’t a decorator, he would be in my top five because I love his work. There’s an ease to it and there’s intelligence and refinement without being overly done. It’s a great mix and I think that is really where they’re coming from. It’s about simplicity and it’s about that great mix. I hope it really reflects them.”