Elegant yet practical, the decorating doyenne shows a real flair for living
interior photographs by Pieter Estersohn
photograph of Moss by Brooke Slezak
What is special about Charlotte Moss Decorates (Rizzoli, 2011), your seventh book on home decorating? The theme is “Where do you begin?” You have four walls, a ceiling and a floor. It’s all blank, so where do you start? Where do you begin? Inspiration can come from anywhere. It’s as diverse as a creamsicle palette or a dress in an old movie. You get a bouquet of flowers and see two colors next to each other, maybe a cerise anemone beside a pale blue hyacinth. That could be the thing that sparks it. As Bruce Springsteen sings, “You can’t start a fire without a spark.” For each room, you’ve assembled a collage. How does that figure into design? I clip, photocopy and save images and things I respond to, maybe a fabric, a floor plan, a window treatment or a beautiful piece of hardware. Then, I put them together on a piece of paper, edit and discriminate—only the best will do. The result is a piece that suggests something to you. It’s the basis that starts to pull the scheme and elements together. But there’s always that other intangible element—the thing that’s going to give it atmosphere. For instance, someone can just say Capri and you think of the ease of it, how you felt there, what you fantasized about. And you try to capture that mood in the room. If you were assigned to do a room in one color, what would you choose? Aqua. It’s soothing and can be combined with so many things. It can be casual with rattan or elegant with gilt. I’ve just finished a fabric collection that has many shades of it. It’s a fresher take on that whole Pompadour blue and blue-gray palette. If you had to evacuate your home, what keepsake would you take? I love what I have, but I don’t want to worry about it or be dictated to by it. I’m more likely to favor items given to me or made for me—things that other people took the time to seek out for me. What celebrity would you like to design a room for? Someone who doesn’t rely on someone else to style and dress them every day, someone smart who’s been around awhile—maybe Annette Bening or Sigourney Weaver. Which room in this book would you most like to live in? The one on the cover because it’s a room where I can sit and have a conversation, write a letter, hang my art, lounge on a daybed with a good book and my two dogs, Daisy and Oscar.