High Point designer Leslie Moore just might have found it
By Ross Howell Jr. • Photographs by Amy Freeman
Atop a steep escarpment with majestic views of Grandfather Mountain to the south and the Watauga River Valley to the north, Echota on the Ridge bills itself as a resort community providing homes “at the edge of heaven.”
Sales hyperbole? Maybe. But I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I’m partial.
I’ve come to Echota to have a look at the year-old condominium that residential interior designer Leslie Moore of L. Moore Designs of High Point has created for family and friends.
Moore’s been a professional designer for more than 20 years. Born in Florida, she attended high school in New Jersey, then received an art history degree at Vanderbilt University.
Following graduation, she worked for Union Camp, which had a plant near Nashville that produced shipping packaging.
“Learning about manufacturing has been very important in my approach to design,” Moore says. She feels she’s better equipped to understand how well something is made.
She moved from Nashville to Jackson, Miss., where she worked as a commercial designer. There she decided to go back to school part-time to learn more about interior design. She completed all the courses for a design degree and interned with a Jackson interior designer whose specialty was antiques.
Moore’s husband, David, is an ear, nose and throat physician but he also plays bass guitar, standup base, and I admired one of his watercolors as I came in the front door. Before going into practice, he was offered a pediatrics fellowship at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and the couple moved to Charlottesville.
“We lived in a place up on Observatory Hill, a mountain overlooking the university,” Moore says.
In Charlottesville she set up a business importing antiques. When her husband’s year-long fellowship was completed, the couple moved to High Point, where they’ve lived for 27 years, where Moore continued to pursue her interest in antiques and residential interior design. Her first clients came to her through word-of-mouth.
“I have many long-term clients,” Moore says. “Some of them are among my very first.”
When they decided they wanted a place in the mountains, they found a condo still under construction, which meant she was able to specify some of the materials and finishes.
“We were on a budget,” Moore says, “so I wanted to stay with the builder’s specifications wherever I could to save money.”
She only asked for upgrades where she thought they were absolutely necessary.
“David appreciated that, of course,” she continues. “He doesn’t care a thing about furniture anyway.” The only thing her husband insisted on was that they have a place with a good view of Grandfather Mountain.
Although she was creating a space for herself, she hired artist Becky Clodfelter of Clodfelter Studio in Greensboro to produce renderings of the rooms as she envisioned them, just as she would do for her own design clients.
“I communicate visually,” Moore says, adding that computer-generated views just don’t do it for her. “Becky’s watercolors really help.”
Moore specified the granite for the countertops and backsplash, the color of paint and stain finishes, the texture of the bedding and pillows, the hardwood flooring and carpets. She searched tirelessly for each light fixture and lamp. She selected with care every stick of furniture — all with the goal of achieving simplicity in a 1,200-square-foot space — so a visitor might do just what I’m doing now: enjoying an undistracted view through the big living room windows onto a spacious outdoor entertaining deck and beyond, to the knobby peak of Grandfather Mountain. Though there are many windows in the condo, very few have window treatments. And that’s by design.
Ragged clouds scud along the old man’s face, with rays of light peeking through to cast moving spotlights of brilliance on his shoulders. A few ochre leaves still cling to the oaks on the mountain, and poplars offer a sprinkling of yellow leaves to the sun. Dark groves of rhododendron and fir are clearly visible, as are gray stone outcroppings.
The door to the deck is open, even though the wind’s rising and the temperature’s brisk. We step outside.
“See the chaise lounge there in the corner?” Moore asks.
“I told you David doesn’t care a thing about furniture, but he moved that chair I don’t know how many times to get just the right view,” she says. “That’s his spot.”
Moore tells me they spend hours on the deck, watching the light change on the mountain, and then smiles.
“I guess that tells you how old we are,” she says.
We turn back into the living room. By the door is an attractive banquette, dining table and chairs.
The Universal Furniture table and chairs are simple and clean, with elements of Danish design. Moore considers the banquette essential to the arrangement, not only for the cozy feel it lends the dining area, but also for the extra seating it provides.
“We’ve seated 11 people here for dinner, with plenty of room,” she says.
Straight ahead is the kitchen, with two bar chairs at a counter finished with buttery colored granite streaked with black and flecked with gold. It’s striking.
“I did specify an upgrade for the countertop,” Moore says. “But all the cabinets are builder specified.”
To our right is a stone fireplace that rises to a vaulted ceiling. The hearth is modest. Along the outside wall by the hearth a lovely sofa and table are placed.
“I really did splurge on the sofa,” Moore says. She tells me she purchased it from Verellen, a Belgian luxury furnishings manufacturer with a plant near High Point.
There are two stylish cloth-covered recliners that look nothing like recliners. Moore demonstrates one for me.
Standing, Moore tells me they wanted a condo on the top floor not only for the view it provided, but also for the high ceilings which enhance the feeling of openness. And her insistence upon simply designed, spare furniture and lighting makes the feeling of space all the stronger.
“There’s no room for clutter here,” Moore says. And there isn’t any.
She shows me a framed piece on a wall of the kitchen. It reads “hygge.” Moore explains it’s the Danish word for a feeling of coziness and contentment.
Her design has completely nailed that mood.
We continue on. She shows me the airy master bedroom – with a wonderful view of Grandfather — and a beautifully tiled shower.
“Another upgrade,” Moore says.
We take a look in the cozy guest bedroom on the front side of the condo, then Moore leads me upstairs — the bannisters are stainless steel cable — to the loft. It’s big, with plenty of space for a sleek, comfortable-looking easy chair from West Elm and two queen beds. For efficiency, the beds feature drawers underneath.
“Those drawers were tricky to put together,” Moore says. “I like them, but I don’t know that I’d install them again.”
As we overlook the living room from the loft, I ask Moore how she keeps her inspiration after so many years working in interior design.
“My number one thing is travel,” she replies. “I’ll go to new places to see the architecture and visit art museums and galleries. And the natural world provides great inspiration.
“Number two, no surprise, is the Market in High Point,” Moore continues. She tells me she attends twice a year and visits individual showrooms year round.
“Number three,” she adds, “is going to the ADAC.” That’s the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, founded in 1961. It’s open throughout the year and features the work of various designers, presenting the largest collection of luxury furniture in the southeastern United States.
“Design is always evolving,” Moore says. “So it’s important to keep your vision fresh.”
At Echota she wanted to put together a whole new look, something completely unlike the design of her home.
“Many things I found at IKEA,” she continues. “I was selecting for durability, simplicity and clean lines. It was more than deciding on a modern or contemporary look. What I wanted was something I call ‘mountain modern.’
“And I had to be very efficient,” Moore adds. “I had a tight budget. It sounds strange, but that was very freeing for me. There were fewer tweaks to consider. And I couldn’t be happier with the results.”
Just as I’m leaving, Moore’s husband arrives with a friend who’s spending the weekend. A Golden Retriever named Ryder, the Moores’ dog, wags her way in, too.
The flurry of activity is warm, anticipatory. I expect soon there’ll be a fire on the hearth, Ryder reposing in front of it and a beverage glass or two on the stylish table by the sofa.
Moore tells me it’s a two-hour drive door-to-door from High Point.
“It’s great to have a place to relax so close by,” Moore says.
And what a place she’s made. As I walk to my car, I pause for a final look through young, straight poplar trees at the solemn, venerable face of the mountain called Grandfather. In the twilight the sight is . . . heavenly.
Ross Howell Jr. is a freelance writer and novelist in Greensboro. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.