Published in summer 2012 issue of MyLIFE magazine
Look around. Where are you? Are you reading this while sitting in a comfortable chair in the sun-brightened living room of a home? A patio lounge by the pool at a hotel? Are you in the bathtub? Now, think about the person or team of people responsible for the design of your current environment.
What rules do you think they followed? The names of those who rule style, such as Frank Gehry, Mica Ertegün, Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart, may come to mind. Now meet designer, author and lecturer Charlotte Moss, who wrote, “I don’t want to give you any rules for decorating because as I have said many times before in other books and will no doubt repeat myself again in the future, there are no rules.”
So, there you are, reading this in a designed environment filled with decisions based on what felt like rules concerning color, fabric, objects and placement. Perhaps they were your decisions. Perhaps they were the result of your negotiations with a decorator. Of course there were rules!
But what were those rules?
In 2011, Moss published Charlotte Moss Decorates: The Art of Creating Elegant and Inspired Rooms, and now she is on a speaking tour across the United States. In mid-March, she gave a lecture at the Phoenix Art Museum. “I am fascinated by the concept of how people live when they are alone,” she said. Then she introduced 10 women whose personalities have demonstrated individual guides for which “they embraced the art of living.” Moss demonstrates that we can learn a lot about who we are and what we want in our environments by looking at others known by their signature items.
Take Coco Chanel: Pearls, red paint on walls, suits for women.
Gloria Vanderbilt: Gingham, swans and lilies of the valley.
Put your name here. What colors or items resonate with you? Are you “known” for your particular style?
Moss believes that individuals must know themselves well before they can make good decisions about the design that shows up in their lives. She believes that the things you bring into your living space are outward manifestations of your inner self, the self that only you know best. And knowing yourself means “there is so much to happen before you even buy the first item,” she said.
With roots in Virginia, Moss is an award-winning designer who shows that elegant and luxurious (read “pleasing” and “comfortable”) can be accomplished with passion as well as humor. She studied history and art before writing seven other books, in addition to articles for The Wall Street Journal and Architectural Digest. She will tell you that she loves hunting for “beautiful items” such as unusual umbrellas, antiques and plants and collecting things like photographs of famous women. She enjoys making collages and scrapbooks. Her shop, Charlotte Moss Interior Design, is located in New York City.
As for her book, it has its own unique design. Each chapter title is a quote from her. Look at Chapter 6’s title when you need to give yourself permission to make a decision about something like whether to place a large bed diagonally in a small bedroom: “Trust your instincts. Trust your eye. Trust yourself.” At the end of each chapter is a challenge titled “Why Not …,” where you are asked questions such as “Why not hang a framed work of art on a bookcase?” Moss wants you to believe that “not everything needs to be displayed on walls.”
Moss’s website reflects her personal philosophy about design, with lots of photographs and ideas. It is a treasure trove for people looking to evaluate their own personal style. See charlottemoss.com.