Island Time

Tropical hues and textures bring a Myers Park interior to life

Photographs by Chris Edwards

Styled by Jayde Wills

It all began with color. When Ginger Moss first called interior designer Deborah Noland, she just wanted a little help picking out paint.

After moving to Charlotte from Atlanta, Ginger and Burley Moss leased a home for two years in a small, recently constructed Myers Park infill development. The property overlooks a pond with fountain, and the couple’s five- and seven-year-old sons loved to play with neighbors’ children on the quiet cul-de-sac street. Charmed by the house and its location, the Mosses decided to buy.

“When we bought the house, it was just all one color, like a taupe,” Ginger says. “But with two young kids, we wanted color.” So Ginger contacted Noland to help her put together a palette.

“We had five colors used throughout the house,” Noland recalls. “Ginger brought me a stack of fabrics and said ‘these are the colors I love.’ ”

Together, Noland and Ginger chose five colors that would make a vibrant statement. Coral, lime, palm green, gourd, and butter are used in the lower level. More neutral coffee tones are used upstairs, with ceilings throughout the house painted a warm maize tone to tie the two levels together. The kitchen’s appliances and granite countertops remained unchanged; however, Noland added new woven leather barstools and counter chairs and used a translucent strié glaze on the cabinets to harmonize with the house’s overall color scheme.

In some households, the husband would be the harder sell for a bold design direction, but not here. “Ginger and I have similar tastes. We just went room by room. There’s a real good flow to it,” Burley says.  He waves his arm expansively as he steps into the living room, with its cool green walls and balcony overlooking the pond. “Plus, I can just open the doors and cook on my grill.”

As pleased as the Mosses are with their home’s new look, getting those colors on the walls was no easy task. Noland viewed the project as a challenge, but one she accepted gladly.

“In the past decade, I haven’t had clients request bold color like this. Only for my own homes, in my own life,” she says. “Typically, this is the age of neutrality. That can look great, too—but this just gives you the opportunity to do something different.”

One potential issue involved the rounded edges of many walls and doorways. How could the painters achieve a smooth transition between two intensely different colors without a sharp corner dividing them?  Noland credits the extreme skill and dedication of painter Jimmy Padgett of Padgett’s Painting with solving this dilemma by using painter’s tape on the edge and cutting it to a curve that matched the radius of the archway.

But there was another even more fundamental problem: the demanding nature of lime wash paint. With lime wash, the granules that are raised oxidize, creating unique variations in color and texture that cannot be duplicated through any other technique, including faux finish. But the paint can be temperamental and difficult to use.

“There are many factors involved,” cautions Noland. “This is not a do-it-yourself project. This type of painting can only be done on a clear day. The heat and humidity need to be consistent from day to day. You need to keep a beater in the paint to keep a uniform consistency. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a designer in my life. Jimmy Padgett made this job work.”

And the Mosses believe the end result was worth it.

“Everybody comments on the walls,” says Ginger. Burley agrees. “It’s got a wow factor to it. It really does.”

The Mosses and Noland are still working on putting the finishing touches on the redesign. They recently added Italian wool drapes in the dining room for greater balance and symmetry and arranged a collection of framed family pictures above the house’s main staircase.

 Over time, Ginger has developed a strong working relationship with her decorator. “She really knows my taste,” she says of Noland. “And if I don’t like something, I don’t feel intimidated.”

A Passion for Leopard

Playful touches abound throughout the house, from the pineapple chandelier in the breakfast nook and the modular Chameleon sofa in the children’s playroom to the carved animal masks in the guest rooms But there is one singular motif that defines Ginger’s taste. “My favorite thing in the whole world is leopard,” she admits, laughing. “Leopard for me is my staple. I always want leopard around me.”

Throughout the house there are leopard and other animal prints on upholstery, cushions, throws, stationery, and artwork. Because the patterns are muted and neutral in tone, these prints blend easily with the house’s overall tropical décor. Some pieces have been with Ginger for years; others are more recent acquisitions, like the living room’s Pottery Barn coffee table recovered by Noland in leopard print fabric and an armchair covered in leopard and tropical floral print fabric.

A former beauty queen and fashion model, Ginger quickly makes guests feel at home with her warmth and self-deprecating sense of humor. It’s easy to see how the idea of leopard print would connect to this sense of spontaneous energy and fun.

In the dining room, Ginger points to a painting of a leopard in the style of Henri Rousseau. The leopard is stylized, caught in mid-leap as it bounds through tropical grassland.

“We’ve had this painting for years. We had it in Atlanta,” says Ginger. “We’ve just always loved it.”

There are many beautiful objects in the room—a dark wood, plantation-style credenza from St. Barts, hand-blown glass balls, lacquered tobacco-leaf vases, and an antique botanical print from Ginger’s mother. But the leopard painting occupies a place of honor, at the center of the most formal room in the house.

Someday, Ginger dreams of going on a safari with her family. In the meantime, she has a house that feels tropical any time of year.