Charlotte Moss: A Flair for Living

Charlotte Moss’s newest book, A Flair for Living (Assouline, $65), is brimming with photographs and ideas from her rich, elegant designs that reflect her European style. A dedicated entertainer, Moss inspires us to bask in the details—and love every minute of it.


Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles: Why did you write A Flair for Living?
Charlotte Moss: I wanted to write a book that was more about design philosophy and living with beautiful things than about the principles of decorating. It’s about three houses—mine and two I designed for other people.

Describe your style.
My style is a relaxed American interpretation of European design. It is elegant yet comfy and livable. It’s about layers and mixing. It’s being well-traveled. People don’t live in curated places.

Why did you decide to open your own shop?
Everything is high-tech today, but you can only do so much online and through mail-order catalogs. We need to be able to touch and feel things. The more technologically oriented we are, the more need we have for tactile things—that’s where the store comes in.

What is the biggest challenge you face when designing a home?
It’s the client, not the room. It’s drawing information out of the client. How do they see themselves using this room? What is its function? Knowing a client well makes this easier. A designer-client relationship should be long-term, not just the duration of one project.

What is the biggest design mistake people make?
They try to follow a formula that works for someone else. People make the same mistake with the clothes they wear. Don’t follow someone else to a “T.” Add your own touches, change things up a little. There’s always room to punctuate with personal style. The other big mistake is bad housekeeping. What’s the point of having beautiful things if the place is a mess?

You had a brief stint in design school. What happened?
I wasn’t good at drawing. That’s the greatest deficiency in my design education. Drawing is either a natural gift or you have to really work at it.

After growing up in Virginia and designing interiors all over the United States, how do you think design differs in the South, as opposed to New York and other places?
I didn’t even know what decorating was when I was growing up. My mother and grandmother lived simply, but they knew how to live. They were real masters of all domestic arts. I think there is a frankness and exuberance in the South—they don’t call them “steel magnolias” for nothing. Southerners are who they are. They are proud of their heritage. Southern women have a strength. They live in their homes, and their homes are comfortable.