What can be said about Charlotte Moss that hasn’t been said already? Hugely popular and a great talent, Moss claims the #3 spot on the Cote de Texas Top Ten Designers list. A true southern belle, hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Moss has been decorating for over 25 years now, after first starting out in a career on Wall Street. She’s written six books on interior design, owned a retail store and closed it, twice now, once partnered with the legendary David Easton, designs a fabric, furniture, and china line amongst others, runs an online shop, and is very philanthropic, to boot. Besides running her career, Moss oversees three homes, a 4 story townhouse in Manhattan, an East Hampton beach house, and a newly acquired chalet in Aspen. Her former house in Colorado was the subject of one of her best known books, Winter House. Opinionated and a non-stop work horse, Moss appeals to the those who love Italian and French design – her own favorite periods are French Directoire and Empire. Moss credits both her southern grandmother and mother for instilling in her her love of home and decorating – her grandmother, she states, was a natural, a self-taught talent, much like Moss herself. Moss’ favorite designers are a surprise: she loves the opulent and layered looks of Tony Duquette and Renzo Mongiardino, yet she says Michael Smith would be on her top five list to do her own home if she wasn’t a designer; Bunny Williams would be hired to do her dining room in a true southern style.
Moss’ style is classic – she’s not one to go for trends - she favors antique furniture and accessories. Of trendy color themes, she says: “It’s going to date itself. What I think happens is people do it because it looks like it’s now, but it’s not really them. It’s the fashion victim program.” Her favorite colors: “I always end up at that Capriccio sort of family and this palette of bronzes and coppers and the blue-periwinkle-mauvey family. But then I love shocking colors like chartreuse and things like that.” Moss is perhaps most famous for her master bedrooms – romantic and feminine – and boasting a four poster bed, swathed in fabrics. The master bedroom should be for the woman – she should invite her husband into it, Moss preaches. Hear, hear! (picture courtesy of New York Social Diary)
Miss Moss, shopping in Paris – one of her favorite pastimes!
Moss is in high demand today, yet she only has two jobs going at a time even though her staff numbers 13! She can be tough to work for: “I have very little tolerance for lazy people. There are people who are get-it-done people and there’s no bitching or moaning about it. And then there’s the people who think they are doing you a favor and I can’t handle that! If you are going to stand out you gotta do something and it’s called work, w-o-r-k.” sigh, I know! I know! She can be just as tough on her perspective clients. Taking on so few jobs she has to quickly judge who would make a good client, which she does by using her particular criteria of what is unacceptable: “Bad shoes. Polyester napkins. A ‘library’ with no books. Very wealthy people who are not philanthropically inclined. Oh, and the ones that tell you that ‘this house is going to be good for your career.’ You have to learn when talking to a client what hasn’t been said – but has. When somebody calls me on the phone I know if I want the job or not after two or three sentences.” So ladies, check your shoes before you meet with Moss!
Miss Moss with her favorite designer Ralph Rucci and her husband, Barry Friedberg. I love this dress!!!!
And Moss has more words of wisdom to share. Listen to what clues Moss picks up on if there is no good sex happening in a bedroom: “it looks like an afterthought, as though nobody cares. Old lampshades, dusty ... things are dirty. It’s there even in some of the finest properties in New York.” For God’s sakes, ladies – dust those lampshades! Moss is a fanatic about cleanliness. Her clients’ way of lives is as important to her as their decor. Before a job is done, she sets their tables with china and stemware, photographs it, and labels it, so future dinner parties aren’t a fuss. She will catalogue a client’s vases and send the list off to the florist. She even designs stationary for each house, a sort of interior design branding. (I love that idea!)
Cote de Texas loves her personal style as much as her interior design style. How perfect could anyone look? The hair, the jewelry, the blue dress with the chartreuse bag and shoes!
Moss is a whirlwind of activity, traveling for inspiration, giving of herself to endless charity functions, entertaining at home with her husband, running her successful interior design company and lecturing on design around the country. Yet she finds time to design a fabric line for Brunschwig and Fils, with another new line set to debut soon. She has written six books and there are two new ones in the works, including a tale about the domestic side of Jacqueline Onassis – how wonderful will that be? Since her latest store has closed, she runs an online shop and a blog and has a line of decorative accessories soon to be unleashed on her fans. All this she accomplishes while running her three houses and her very successful marriage. You would think something in her life would suffer, something would have to be done poorly, but no, Moss is always elegantly turned out, (she favors Ralph Rucci for eveningwear), and if anything, her popularity just grows and grows with the legions of younger fans who are just discovering her.
Charlotte Moss: dressed for her charity events. What great style!
Cote de Texas adores Charlotte Moss’ style – just read her list of favorite fabrics to see why: linen toiles, worn out linen velvets (to die for!), silk ikats, hand blocked linens, new cotton kilims. Let’s see – she named linen three times alone – toiles, velvets and hand-blocked! What’s not to love? She looks books, she likes to both collect them and read them, yet she is fascinated with Amazon Kindle, a virtual reading experience. She hates minimalism, of course, every Cote de Texas Top Ten Designer hates minimalism! She loves to shop for her houses and collects a number of things, yet she doesn’t want to be tied down to her possessions and dreams of that elusive house, perhaps one in France with “no moldings or wallpapers” or one on a cliff in the Hollywood Hills. It’s comforting to think that even with three beautiful houses, each with a distinct locale and style, there still exists room to dream about that “perfect” house. Her personal motto? “Keep your passport handy and your wish list updated.” Exactly, Miss Moss.
How cute is this? Charlotte likes to speed in her convertible, she says.
In 1985, Charlotte Moss left Wall Street, taking her bonus to Europe to buy antiques. Thus, her new career as an interior designer was born. Newly married to Barry Friedberg, whom she had met on Wall Street, Moss opened her own shop, which was a hit that lasted 10 years. Her work is rarely, if ever published, apparently her clientele prefer anonymity. But, it is known that one of her first jobs was for Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor of New York.
The rare picture of the young Charlotte at her popular shop, which remained open for 10 years. Wow – how adorable is she!
Moss freely admits she couldn’t make it at interior design school because she couldn’t draw. All renderings are handled by people she hires, as this was. Since drafting wasn’t her forte, she is self taught, like many of the greats in the business. Are you listening ASID????? Early inspirations were Billy Baldwin and David Hicks, whose books she devoured to learn as much as she could from these masters.
Though Moss couldn’t draw, she certainly could write and the first of her six books came out in 1991 – for many, their first introduction to Charlotte.
In 1995, Moss, along with Charles Faudree’s collaborator James Steinmeyer, produced this book full of Steinmeyer’s charming drawings.
Charlotte Moss in a Georgetown townhouse which I could never determine if it was hers or not. This townhouse was my first real introduction to Moss. Its style, the cluttered English country house look which was so popular in the late 80s and early 90s, really spoke to me at that time, and still influences me today. Later these images were published in the book Designers in Residence, where the rooms were said to be the designers – so perhaps, this is an early house?
The drawing room was divided into two sections, with a fireplace in between the seating area and dining area. Classic design remains up to date no matter what the year and this room could certainly work today.
The “dining room” table doubles as a desk. So English: yellow walls with red and cream chintz fabric, needlepoint rugs, paisley print fabric ottoman, curtains with valance and lots of trims.
The red sofa side of the room with another plump sofa, and a striped skirted table. Bamboo shades were paired with the valance curtains.
Darling miniature chair – details the Moss still likes to use today. In fact I think I spied this exact chair in a current Moss home!
Close up of the fireplace with a beautiful antique chinoiserie screen. Moss is known for using unique, one-of-a kind pieces in her designs. She is also a big proponent of symmetry and loathes minimalism – two things that Cote de Texas agrees with, for sure!
Moss and her husband own three houses. This one, in East Hampton, gets ready for a garden party. During the summer, she and her husband use their house to host functions for the many charities they support. The house is shingled and has extensive gardens which Moss reports she is trying to scale back.
Moss says resting in her East Hampton hammock is one of her favorite forms of relaxation. Beautiful!
The large East Hampton living room is surrounded by bookcases filled with thousands of books. The room is finished in a mix of French and English antiques. I love the way this room is furnished with Indienne fabrics, miniature French chairs, blue and white garden stools, Stark seagrass rug in their famous diamond pattern, antique French tables, and large framed prints reaching for the ceiling.
These rare shots were taken at a garden party a few years ago: Charlotte and her husband in the family room. Party photos by Rob Rich!!!
These are earlier pictures of the same room – I say earlier because there is less clutter in the room – I like the clutter better! I really love the chaise in the corner and the rattan coffee table – perfect for a beach house.
The desk behind the sofa is gorgeous. Notice how Moss used just one fabric for almost all the upholstery pieces in the room, a technique she borrowed from the French and uses time and time again.
The balcony is so pretty with its fretwork!
In this party shot at the East Hampton house – notice the shape of the backsplash behind the range! Instead of using traditional subway or square tiles, consider using a carved piece of stone. This works best in just one place, as an accent – behind the range or behind a sink. It’s also great in a powder room or a master bathroom behind the sink or bathtub.
Brunschwig and Fils introduced this line of fabrics designed by Charlotte Moss. Here, shown in the wonderful pink colorway- Digby Tent and Zarafa toile quickly became best sellers. She also designed a line of upholstered furniture for Brunschwig.
In her East Hampton house, the new Brunschwig and Fils fabrics were used for an ad. Digby Tent in the blue colorway covered most of the pieces. I wonder if she kept her house with these fabrics or if it went back to how it was before? Notice how she’s raised her curtains here, much better!
Another ad for Brunschwig and Fils featured the Zarafa toile in the brown colorway.
The Aspen Colorado House:
In 2005, Charlotte Moss wrote Winter House, a story about the chalet she shares with her husband and family in Aspen Colorado. The house is, in a word, beautiful. How many houses can have a book written about them? The chalet was furnished in blues and green, inspired by the blue paisley panels from Clarence House that Moss had long coveted. On the cover, the green velvet settee sits in front of the Clarence House panels, made into curtains.
In this picture from the book with Moss in matching shirt and shoes to the decor – natch, you can see the color scheme – the blues and greens together. The blue and white porcelain lamps with the stunning green silk lampshades, are to die for! Notice the charming slip on the chair, tied with adorable bows. I love books about a house, so this one became a personal favorite. Shortly after it was released, the house went up for sale, and since then another Aspen house was purchased: bigger? smaller? Who knows? But I can’t wait for that book! The MSL listing is still available on the internet along with a virtual tour – from which I pulled these pictures off to give you some feel for the house. See the listing here.
Taken from the virtual tour on the internet – these pictures are slightly out of focus and walls appear curved – which they aren’t – it’s an effect of the tour. Here, the blue and white fabric on the sofa is a paisley. And in this one house – Charlotte allowed a TV in the living room – hidden inside the armoire.
The dining area with the kitchen hidden behind the cabinets. Pleated green silk lampshades – everywhere!
The kitchen is closed off from the living area by short curtains.
The breakfast room off the kitchen – notice the doors with the fabric inside the panels. The walls are not curved – it is the effect of the virtual tour.
The French master bedroom with the Louis XVI Lit de polonaise bed. Notice the charming settee in front of the bed and the two oval oil paintings over the square ones flanking the four poster!
Beautiful shades and an antique clock in the master suite.
The master bathroom, charming and cluttered, just as expected.
The New York Townhouse:
In 2008, Charlotte Moss came out with A Flair For Living. This was her first real coffee table book- filled with pictures from her townhouse and clients’ houses. She posed for the cover inside her second floor living room with its cream and green striped curtains and the pink velvet tufted settee.
The entrance to the townhouse behind iron gates.
While most people are familiar with Moss’ townhouse from the New York Social Diary and A Flair for Living, several pictures from a party Moss had show the house, unstyled and more like it really is – beautiful!
The front door leads straight to the dining room, through which you can see the outside fireplace. Those urns with the spring branches are beautiful!
Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
Here, the de Gourany wallpaper looks almost green. The floor is large limestone squares and the fireplace is a romantic addition. Rather than one grand chandelier, Moss opts for two fun Oriental flavored lights which play off the wallpaper.
Here, the paper seems more turquoise. You can see the fireplace and outdoor dining gazebo in this picture. The host and hostess chairs are fabulous.
Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
Symmetry in the dining room – the mirror has attached sconces to hold extra flower vases.
Another view from the party pictures – is this the true color?
The back yard, with the gazebo and fireplace. Moss designed this fireplace on an axis so that it can be seen from the front part of the house while walking in. She and her husband eat out here in all kinds of weather – in winter, the fireplace keeps them warm. Just beautiful!
Moss with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, before the vines are in bloom.
Looking from the gazebo back to the townhouse. The dining room is on the first floor, the living room is on the second with the Juliet balconies.
A drinks table set up outside for the spring party.
Upstairs, this vignette looks nice enough. Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
The same vignette – styled for 1st Dibs – here it looks breathtakingly beautiful! The urns!!!!!!!!
The stairwell – all four floors! Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
The peach colored library in Moss’ favorite colors. Here she displays her collection of interior drawings. Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
There are even more books here – on top of all the books at East Hampton! I love the way the two French bergeres are covered in black leather. Notice how she puts pull out shelves in her bookcases – a perfect place to rest a book you are referencing. Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
A close up of the symmetrical arrangement of the room – the sofa fits perfectly into the niche between the bookcases.
The curtain treatments are rather fancy here, but are perfectly suited for the room. Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
Look at this knockout desk and chair! How beautiful!
Across from the library is the formal living room which overlooks the back yard gazebo. The windows are arched and treated with more simply executed curtains. And notice the curved niche on the right – with its own round niche, above. Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
The pinks and greens are so beautiful and so feminine here. Doesn’t Miss Moss look gorgeous in this room? Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
The tufted velvet settee is a showstopper, as are the painted consoles flanking the fireplace. Picture Courtesy of New York Social Diary.
Details, details, details!
Moss private office is papered in her own Brunschwig and Fils pattern. The walls are filled with photos of feminine icons and the red leather books are bound editions of Vogue Magazines. I adore the painted French desk and return console.
At work, organized clutter! I love it! Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
A rare view from behind the desk of the entire wall of women.
The sofa faces a cozy fireplace – what an office! Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
In the midst of a sea of blue, the chair and ottoman are covered in paisley. OK – I love the stacks of books, makes me feel less guilty for mine! And what a great drafting table – perfect to display more books.
Always busy, always planning, always working! Notice the gorgeous easel behind Miss Moss! It’s the unique pieces that make a room. And notice the red silk lampshades – just the right pop in the blue room.
The sitting room that leads to the master suite. Again – ladies, the master bedroom is your room – make it feminine and then invite your husband in! Yeah sure, I can just hear you saying it. Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
The master bed, always a beautiful four poster. Remember ladies – dust those lamp shades! Can I move in here? Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
My favorite idea to take away from here: A gold mirror on an easel, instead of a full length one – genius! Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
The chinoiserie inspired guest room. One fabric covers everything. Picture courtesy of New York Social Diary.
That one special piece in each room: here the chinoiserie desk takes the award.
This guest room has one twin bamboo styled bed – furnished in Moss’ favorite colors.
In 2004, Charlotte Moss came out with this small book – profiling mostly this bedroom designed for the Kips Bay Showhouse. Using her familiar Indienne fabric covering everything, the room centered on this gorgeous Louis XVI Lit de polonaise bed. With her Kips Bay rooms, Moss became known for her over the top, drop dead gorgeous French styled bedrooms. Two years later, she created another bedroom for Kips Bay that became one of her most famous spaces:
The famous blue and white Kips Bay bedroom, 2006, that became Moss’ best known work. Inspired by Pauline de Rothschild, Moss used her Brunschwig and Fils wallpaper – the same as in her study. The fabric on the bed is another of hers. Notice the chartreuse accent color and just the hint of pink. I love the oversized antique books doubling as an end table. Again, perfect symmetry and controlled clutter.
A close up look at the beautiful bed, floating in the middle of the room.
She paired curtains and roman shades with blue tape trim.
An antique painted French chaise fills up the corner.
This view of the corner showing a framed piece of handpainted wallpaper and a highly unusual and beautiful shelf. Is there anything prettier than this, anywhere? Stunning in its perfection!
Two Kips Bay Showhouse mavens: Mario Buatta and Miss Charlotte Moss – both have found great acclaim for their work with Kips Bay. This year, the pair are the co chairmen of the showhouse, which is honoring the legendary designer Albert Hadley.
This year, the Kips Bay Showhouse was in a new apartment for the first time ever. Moss decorated this room using rattan sofas and Indienne styled fabrics. She also used her own leather bound Vogue magazines on the bookshelves.
The second room of the 2008 showhouse was this office/closet space, where Moss used fabric to loosely line the walls and hide the hanging clothes area.
Charlotte Moss has become famous for her sumptuous bedrooms. Lavish, yet cozy, the four poster bed is her trademark. Who could resist a bedroom like this? The settee, that one-of-kind piece actually becomes the focal point over the bed, another fabulous one-of-a kind piece. Imagine this room without the canopy. In today’s oversized master suites, canopies are a necessity. They bring a huge room down to a smaller scale, and make the bed, a room within a room. I have trouble convincing my clients to go with four poster beds, even though it usually is the correct choice.
This bedroom, with another gorgeous four poster, is absolutely dreamy. It is the definition of eye candy. Notice how she treated the bed skirt, with contrasting fabric folded into pleats – beautiful!
Or how about this canopy bed, for the little boy! Adorable.
In 2004, Moss wrote this book, an anthology of home. Poetry of home – something I think we all can appreciate.
This year, Veranda magazine featured this Moss designed apartment - another showhouse. Since the apartment was basically non-descript and just four plain walls, Moss dreamed up an Italian locale and family to live in it. Using her favorite color combinations in the living and dining area, she lined the walls in checks and layered paisley fabric over it to wonderful effect.
Closeup of the check and paisley covered walls, with a mirror flanked by Moss’ private collection of antique dioramas.
The dining area was separated from the living area by a glass screen. Over the table, she hung a large Italian styled chandelier.
The shelves in the dining room hold a collection of gilt wood pieces.
The checked curtains match the walls.
The bedroom is another luscious blue and white vision by Moss.
The sitting area overlooks a church spire which was an inspiration for Moss in her design.
The view from the four poster bed!
A loggia with tiled walls and deep blues.
Masculine with a feminine touch. Only Moss can do it right!
OK, OK, – here it is guys – just for you!
And just to be clear, lest you think Charlotte Moss can’t do trendy, this apartment was shown in the late domino magazine, designed for a young employee. It doesn’t get much trendier than this!
The late Townhouse, sniff!
Last year, to much fanfare, Charlotte Moss reopened her shop, this time a townhouse, where every room was set up as you would find it in a home. Unfortunately, her reentry into the retail business was too taxing, and the townhouse closed its doors after only 1 and 1/2 years. I never even got to visit it!!!!! Here was one sales floor, set up as a family room.
And finally, this bedroom at the townhouse was everyone’s favorite, including Oprah Winfrey! This room landed on the cover of Oprah’s magazine.
- I hope you have enjoyed Cote de Texas Top Ten Designer - #3 Charlotte Moss! Only two more left –coming to a blog soon,