Outtakes from my Make It Better interview with Charlotte Moss
I recently had the opportunity to interview Charlotte Moss, who is teaming up with Make It Better for a charity event to benefit the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago. In addition to Charlotte’s philanthropic pursuits, the Über-talented interior designer has written seven books, designed home accessories (including fragrances, fabric, carpet and china) and designed spaces, which have graced the pages of Elle Decor, Veranda and House Beautiful (among others). Please visit Make It Better for more of our conversation.
How has home decorating changed since you began designing interiors?
When I got married there were different expectations about what young women did. Today people register for things that I would have never registered for. I would never have registered for a toaster or pots and pans. You registered for silver and crystal and china – things that you couldn’t afford to buy. There was an expectation that you were going to have these beautiful things which required you to live a certain way and that’s how you decorated. Now people do things differently. It’s much more casual today.
How do you respond to people who say they don’t make enough money to create a fabulous apartment?
If you don’t have a lot of money, then you have to hit the pavement, spend more time on the Internet and go to flea markets and weekend sales. It’s a fact of life. I hear people moan and groan all the time. “She has the most amazing apartment, and she makes the same amount of money as I do. How does she do that?” Well guess what? That girl works Saturday and Sundays. She’s on the Internet. She’s working her you know what off to find bargains. She works at it. It doesn’t just happen! Be realistic about how you live and allocate money to the things that are most important.
What do you consider to be one of your bolder design choices?
For some people, gilded furniture is a very bold choice. Most people think it belongs in a palazzo. There are some people who don’t understand antiques that have signs of wear. They have to understand that the piece is 200 years old. I love gilding. Good gilding. Nice and worn and rubbed. I don’t like it when it’s brand spanking new and blinding. There are clearly trends that we’re going to see go bye-bye, but people have learned to bring history forward with contemporary pieces that represent today. What that creates is something that really represents 2010, but it’s an informed look, like a time capsule. You take something like a Klismos chair with a very graceful sabre leg and then you watch that leg walk all the way through history through the Regency period through today. People look at that leg and say isn’t that fabulous? And I say the Greeks did it and the Egyptians did it. It’s about constantly bringing it forward because there’s nothing new. It’s taking a great patent leather and putting it on a Louis XVI chair.
I have an old shelter magazine from the 40’s or 50’s, which has an advertisement for a Louis XVI chair upholstered in red patent leather with a painted red frame. It seemed so modern, but they were already doing it back then.
There’s a big leapfrog from the 40s to the 70’s, and I think the 70’s are really quite now. They’re very graphic and bold. There’s a lot of freshness in the 70’s, a lot of great design.
What do you love most about designing a space?
I enjoy the hunt. I want an intellectual challenge. I can buy a piece of furniture one day for $100,000 and the next day have just as much fun buying a $1000 piece that I know is worth $5000, because I averaged down.
How do you know it’s right?
When you see something in the back of the booth at the Paris Flea Market or something, and you think, Oh my God, that is it!
I think we all know that feeling. Thank you Charlotte!
Charlotte Moss portrait by Pieter Estersoh