Charlotte Moss' East Hampton Home
BY DEBRA SCOTT
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC STRIFFLER
A hammock hangs between two oaks, each embraced by 20-year-old climbing hydrangea and Euonymus fortunei vines
On a recent summer weekend, decorator Charlotte Moss has just returned from a book tour promoting her seventh book, Charlotte Moss Decorates: The Art of Creating Elegant and Inspired Rooms, during which she delivered lectures to 2,700 people in 11 cities and logged 14,000 miles. Yet she is getting ready for a luncheon to be held in her Georgica house that day, picking lemon verbena from her garden (to be dried and sipped in tea all winter), taking botanical photos for her blog C’est Inspiré, preparing for a trip to France (St-Tropez, Eden Roc, Antibes, the Dordogne and Paris) and giving a tour of her property. It is no wonder she and husband Barry Friedberg have had to reschedule their afternoon plans.
Reclining on a painted rattan chair in her “refuge,” the screened-in porch—the most-used room in her house—Moss props up her legs on a white canvas ottoman and pets her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Oscar, curled nearby. While nibbling on figs, she holds forth on both Charlotte Moss the woman and Charlotte Moss the brand—having magically found a way to relax into the moment. It is only slightly surprising that, when asked to describe her house in one word, she says in her lilting Southern cadence, “Easy.”
In this home she feels grounded, connected. “Everything flows from indoors to outdoors,” she says, looking out at the back garden with its majestic rose towers, canopy of lemon trees, pear tree allée and espaliered apple trees that wall off the pool. Fittingly, a simple hammock shaded by climbing hydrangea beckons. “Look,” she says with awe, pointing to a puff of sea mist floating among the roses and boxwood that populate the landscape (and why not—the house is called Boxwood Terrace). “If you had to describe my garden,” says Moss, a New Yorker by way of Virginia, “it’s not so much about parterres and sweeping vistas, but about intimate gestures, small rooms, gardens within gardens.”
A dynamo of restrained energy, Moss rises daily at dawn and takes her two dogs for a walk. The consummate gardener, she then “pokes around” in her flower beds, cleaning up the roses or cutting flowers and greenery for the many groupings displayed throughout the house. She calls her garden room, where she experiments with her arrangements, her therapy room. “You select individual items that resonate, then marry them in a creative process to tell a story,” she says.