Sometimes it feels like England has more families presiding over inherited estates than corner pubs, thanks to a profusion of centuries-old country piles—such as Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth House and even Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle. But stateside, passing down a home through generations is a rare occurrence—not least because so few of us even want our grandparents’ real estate holdings to begin with.
When the home is truly cinematic, though, keeping it in the family is almost a must. Such is the case with Virginia’s Westover, a Georgian home built in the mid-1700s and home to the Fisher and Erda families for five generations and counting. They recently tapped the iconic Virginia-born, now New York–based designer Charlotte Moss to give the main drawing room a slight face-lift with a timeless upgrade. Here’s how she met the challenge, one fabric at a time.
FREDERIC: WHEN IT COMES TO A HOUSE WITH A PROVENANCE LIKE THIS, WHERE DO YOU EVEN BEGIN?
CHARLOTTE MOSS: The sticky wicket with all of these historic properties where people actually still live is how do we keep the breath of history wafting through the house, but make it livable and fresh for a very active family? We looked for fabrics that felt like they should be in Virginia. When I saw the new Homecoming collection by Williamsburg for Schumacher, I called [FREDERIC editor in chief and Schumacher creative director] Dara Caponigro and I said, “Would you want to do something together here? Because we’ve got a great canvas to play with, and Westover is right in Williamsburg’s backyard.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE COLLECTION THAT IS SO SPECIAL?
The quality of the fabrics is so good. The palette, the fact that they did document colorways—which, generally speaking, is based on the fabric as it was originally designed. So many companies don’t like to do them because a lot of the old backgrounds are tea stained, and today everybody wants all white. Dara and Schumacher were bold enough and brave enough to do this collection with Williamsburg, and they did it beautifully. Subsequently, I’ve picked one of the striped fabrics to be in my own kitchen and in my butler’s pantry in Virginia.