are a riot of colour and pattern. What's your secret for making it all work?
CHARLOTTE MOSS I generally recommend that everyone have all-white plates and serving pieces – you can always add colour to white, which mixes well with any pattern. I try to keep the table interesting and peaceful without being chaotic. There's a difference between an eclectic table and a chaotic one.
S@H Speaking of colour, the second floor in your Manhattan store, The Townhouse, is painted the prettiest shade of green – a colour not often seen in dining areas.
CM It's painted Pantone's Young Wheat, but we call it Lettuce. That's about as edible as it gets. You can use it in a living or dining room. Try it with chocolate-colour velvet, hot pink silk or volumes of white linen. It's a very versatile and flexible colour.
S@H Are there any dos and don'ts when choosing a paint colour for the dining room?
CM No, it depends on the individual – her likes and dislikes. Is the space for all meals, just dinners or mostly entertaining? Does it have windows – is there natural light? It all depends on the mood you're trying to create. There really are no rules. For example, try a highgloss charcoal grey. Pair it with Lucite Ghost chairs, white china on citron yellow cloths and crisp ivory napkins. Then add creamware mixed with black basalt. Or paint the walls an orchid colour. Use white-frame Louis XVI chairs upholstered in dark brown leather, and linens in shades of orchids, like lilac and periwinkle. Then add Wedgwood whites. Or go for pale blue grey walls. Slipcover the chairs in blue-and-white ticking, and mix floral china with crisp white and something vintage against the backdrop of a mahogany table.
S@H You're a fashion aficionado as well. How do you bring a sense of fashion to the tabletop?
CM Just the way I would dress, wearing vintage with J. Crew. In other words, a mix. A one-note look can fall flat, like wearing all one designer from head to toe. It leaves no room for self-expression and personalization. One rule of thumb: be yourself, and be guided by your instincts.
S@H What are your secrets to setting a table?
CM Most important, the table should say something about the host. It's personal. It should be ravishing – either ravishingly simple or ravishingly elaborate. And always, the glasses must be pristine, the silver must be polished, the linens must be pressed and the place cards neatly written.S@H How can you change up the look of your place settings if you have just one set?
CM Changing the colour of your table linens is the equivalent to changing the paint colour in a room. White linen always works – that should be your staple. But why not try aubergine, milk chocolate, pewter or watermelon? Experiment, for heaven's sake! Change your flatware, mix glasses, and think about your containers for flowers on the table – use a collection of baskets. And get out that wedding-present silver sitting in the closet – glam it up or dress it down, but have some fun!
S@H Any centrepiece don'ts for the dining table?
CM The big centrepiece in the middle that prevents you from seeing guests across the table. I prefer a tablescape – a landscape of smaller bouquets.
S@H What's a no-fail flower for arrangements?
CM You can't go wrong if you pick a single flower and make it your story for the evening. Do masses of them in the entry, the powder room, the living room and on the table. Depending on what's in season and on trend, I like the simplicity of daisies, sunflowers, carnations (either all white or all pink), and who doesn't love roses?
S@H Do you ever use anything other than flowers?
CM Sometimes I'll cut herbs from the garden, like basil, rosemary, thyme, mint or tomato leaves (my favourite). Or I'll fill white platters with Granny Smith apples, or a big bowl with lemons and limes. A market basket looks good with bell peppers, small stripped eggplants, or fuzzy kiwis. Make your own cornucopia.