This large balcony leading off the dining room provides amazing views looking east across the treetops to the horizon.
Penthouse. That word alone connotes an elegant aerie high in the sky. This certainly describes Warner Moore’s East Memphis apartment which, in fact, combines two penthouses with a total of three balconies atop the Fairway Towers. As one friend of his remarked recently, the overall look and feel inside is of a grand Parisian apartment. That’s a perfect description of Chez Moore!
Moore is a talented interior designer, and over the years he has been affiliated with Shea Design here in Memphis. He has worked on homes in Aspen, San Francisco, New York City, Palm Beach, and elsewhere, and his work has been featured in Southern Living and Veranda. An endlessly energetic fellow, he is, of course, always open to new clients and challenges.
From his bowtie to his velvet Stubbs and Wootton slippers, Warner Moore is the picture of elegance. He has a penchant for porcelain, with a special passion for Old Paris urns in particular. I asked him why he was attracted to these pieces, and he said that, while they are mostly not marked, they are distinguished by their charming, rustic, and hand-painted figural scenes.
While exploring Moore’s magical home I was reminded of a quote by the ninety-something fashion and design guru, Iris Apfel, who is the “it” girl of the moment; a film on her long career was screened lately at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Apfel has been quoted memorably as saying that “more is more and less is a bore.”
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A cozy seating area at one end of the large living room is decorated with old books as well as Moore’s collection of Old Paris porcelain urns.
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The art of display is evidenced in this table filled with coral and other gifts from the sea.
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A magnificent Sevres tureen has pride of place in the dining room.
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Pairing this jolly little winged figure on a pedestal with a handsome screen behind makes this corner of the hall glow.
Clearly Warner Moore agrees. As he says, it is “the things” that give a place its charm and character. The great designer Billy Baldwin always suggested that homeowners should display their collections, not hide them away. Moore has done just that with his tortoise-shell pieces, his coral, bronze Napoleons, and of course those Old Paris urns. And about that coral: Moore says in contrast to his more refined decorative objects, he really loves shells and anything beautiful that comes from the sea.
Through the years Moore has of course bought antiques in France and elsewhere, but make no mistake, he has found many treasures on eBay. I once overheard his good friend, Anne Gibson, wondering aloud how Moore manages to snag the beautiful things he does online. He told us that if you know what you are looking for, the trick is to “narrow one’s search.” Remember that, readers! Of course, a collector never stops, and, true to form, Moore recently acquired a handsome, painted neo-classical chest on eBay which fit perfectly into his rich red master bedroom.
The real trick, he says, is knowing how to arrange your things, the so-called “art of display” which, as you can see from these images, Moore has developed into an art form all its own. He also creates stunning floral arrangements for weddings and other events, such as those he did for the fabulous anniversary party held by George and Nayla Nassar at Annesdale not so long ago.
Moore believes that, of all the homes he has ever lived in, this one is probably his favorite. He had originally thought he was “not ready for apartment living,” but when his friend Lila Saunders, a well-known realtor with Hobson, showed him his penthouse he knew “this was it.” Now nicely settled, he truly enjoys all the amenities and great services that the Fairway Towers offers, not to mention its handy central location. He has amazing views from his top floor which make him feel like he is somewhere else, “on a vacation” every day, as he says. In spring and summer he sees nothing but lush treetops all the way to the horizon.
Although his previous homes were much larger, Moore was very pleasantly surprised that all of his favorite furniture and fittings worked perfectly in his new place. The lovely salmon-colored silk drapes he has used throughout the apartment have moved with him at least four times! He likes that they “sit on the floor and create a poufy, whipped cream effect.” Sounds perfectly delicious! In contrast to this luxe look, Moore has also used zebra, tiger, and leopard-patterned decorative textiles to add contrast and texture.
Moore collects art and has a number of modern works by well-known Memphis artists including Catherine Erb, Kat Gore, Mathew Hasty, and Anton Weiss. He also points proudly to a charming little drawing on his study’s wall of his granddaughter Posey, done by our mutual good friend, Shirley Turner.
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The dining room isa jewel box with its round table set with Moore’s grand- mother’s Venetian glass goblets and a back wall covered with Japanese silk.
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Posed in his penthouse living room, Warner Moore is the picture of elegance.
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A handsome leather screen placed between the tall bookcases is a focal point in this cozy, taupe-colored study.
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The gold sunburst above Moore’s silver barware creates a stunning effect.
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Moore’s fine collection of Napoleon bronzes displayed below a Venetian mirror welcomes visitors into the entry hall.
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With its rich red wall color and baronial bed, this is a gentleman’s bedroom par excellence.
Moore’s home has seating areas at each end of his grand living room, which are both anchored by Aubusson rugs. The distribution of light is a key element in Moore’s decorative style, and his surroundings are filled with glistening chandeliers, handsome table lamps, and candelabrum ablaze with black candles. The lovely stone mantel was designed by Moore and executed and installed by the very talented Mark Pepke of European Stone Werks in Memphis.
As beautiful as his home is, Moore would never sacrifice comfort for “looks.” This is a very good thing, as he loves to entertain and is a great host who always makes his guests feel comfortable. Warner has a lovely singing voice, and friends often gather around the piano with cocktails poured from the handsome bar, enjoying a fun evening of music.
In his jewel-like dining room, Moore retained the hand-painted Japanese silk wall covering which had been installed by the previous owner. He really surprised me when he said the glowing ceiling in this room was his own handiwork, using four coats of a metallic Benjamin Moore burnished gold color. The sparkling chandelier over the round dining table was found, of all places, in a French farmhouse and sold to Moore by the farmer who was willing to let it go (ahem) for a very fair price.
It is obvious that Moore loves all things French, and as we sipped champagne (naturellement!) at the end of the photo shoot, I asked him how and where he had developed his keen aesthetic tastes and impressive knowledge of antiques and all things beautiful. He told me that through the years he had been fortunate enough to travel the world which he firmly believed was the best education in the fine arts that one can get.
As we departed a bit on the late side, and the apartment’s handsomely decorated double-entry doors closed behind us, my photographer and I felt somehow deflated. The party was over, the magic of this magnificent apartment was left behind, and it was time to call it a day.