Designer Charlotte Moss Thinks Homes Have Gotten Too Big and ‘Ordinary’

Charlotte Moss has designed homes and office spaces in the U.S. and the Caribbean and has often earned a spot on the “Elle Decor A List.”

Since opening her interior design business in 1985, Charlotte Moss has designed homes and office spaces in the U.S. and the Caribbean and has often earned a spot on the “Elle Decor A List.”

Ms. Moss, who lives in New York City and East Hampton, New York, has also designed fabric and trims, carpets and china, and most recently designed a collection of furniture and upholstery with Century Furniture.

She will publish her 10th book, “Charlotte Moss Entertains,” in April.

We caught up with her to discuss the unappealing nature of McMansions, how to make a home feel truly personal, and more.

Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.

Charlotte Moss: I’m an Aquarius, so I have to have water. But it would be much more simple than the way I live now. It would have a great garden and a big library (one that was part of the living room). It would be turnkey. It’s the house that’s been rolling around in my head for some time.

MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?

CM: When I was working on Wall Street years ago, a friend of mine suggested I buy a house in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, and I didn’t. I should have, but I don’t beat myself up about it.

MG: What does luxury mean to you?

CM: Time, time, time. Time to spend the way you want to spend it— whether it’s with family or just dawdling around your house. It’s time spent doing what you want to do, rather than what you need to do.

Silence and privacy are important too.If someone could mash those all together, that would be fabulous.

MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?’

CM: Houses are ordinary and large. They’re sheetrocked, with no detail, enormous rooms, no real sense of place. Big houses that are ordinary and average are surprising to me. If people think a subdivision of “McMansions” is luxury real estate, they really don’t understand it.

MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?

CM: Those located next to water. Coastline is finite, so it will always be in demand. Whether by the sea or a lake, there’s a great pull. Also for a second home, the house itself suggests getting away and having a vacation, getting away.

MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?

CM: My library. I just like being home, that’s No.1. I love entertaining and being there. But when I’m home, I’m in the library, reading. I have two libraries in New York, actually, a fashion library, and an architecture and history. I’m a bibliophile. The whole living room in my second home is a library.

MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?

CM: I really feel that a house is a scrapbook. It represents how you see the world, what you collect. It’s about collecting. I have paintings and watercolors, 18th-century bronze perfume burners, and lots of other things that relate to gardening and what not.

MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?

CM: Besides my husband, it’s my dogs and my books.

MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?

CM: The best amenity is being able to look out the window to something beautiful. It’s also the house and the garden and how they relate. Other than that, I just want the systems to work.

MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?

CM: Buy what you love. When you walk into a house, you should have a visceral response to that space that says “I need to be here.”

MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?

CM: Weather changes will change how people feel about certain locations. We’ve seen enough disasters to give us pause about where the vulnerabilities are.

Also, the way technology is changing our lives—and moving so quickly— is going to affect how we build houses.

MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?

CM: People want a house that’s turnkey, accessible and not complicated. People will go for partial ownership so they’re not tied down, and homes that are less encumbered.

MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?

CM: I’m big on personal style and I think it’s hard to achieve some of that when you’re living in a development with a lot of homogeneity. Personally I’d like to tackle a historic property and redo it. I know all the pitfalls, I’ve done it for other people. But I like to tweak things.

MG: What area currently has the best resale value?

CM: The classic places where there always has been good resale value, where architecture has integrity and houses are unique: Places like River Oaks in Houston, Buckhead in Atlanta. Those will always hold their own.

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