The addition of a new wing allowed the Moseleys to create a large living room with two seating areas—this one faces a fireplace. The painting of Ginja Moseley is by Connie Bealou Adams. Ginja, who did the floral arrangements throughout the house, filled two urns with hydrangeas and Avery Island greenery.
Little did I know 34 years ago when I met Matt Moseley at a Christmas cocktail party that we would have so very much in common. After much conversation I learned that as a child he had visited my cousins on Avery Island, he had been swimming in the island’s “Blue Hole” and had even been crabbing from the dock by the toll gate at the entrance to the island. What a lucky evening for me! He had an appreciation and knowledge of my special place on this Earth.
After a year, we were married and learned that workers’ cottages at the island’s salt mine were being offered for sale to our family for a pittance, and for just a small amount of money, we could also have a small cottage on the island. Looking back, Matt and I would have been much better off tearing the cypress cottages down and using the lumber to build, but we were young. The plan was to move the two tiny cottages on trucks, raise them up to capture a view into the Western marsh, and slap on a coat of paint. Well, we got a little more involved, and years later, we now have a four-bedroom, raised cottage with two fireplaces, special parterres and a fabulous view. “Sundown” has evolved over the years and it is where we share wonderful times with family and friends.
The 1830s four-poster bed in the master bedroom is made of walnut and was found in an antique shop on Magazine Street. The painting (against the left wall, background) was painted by an instructor at the Newcomb Art School.
We recently added a matching wing to mirror our bedroom wing, which gave me the perfect opportunity to indulge my love for design through my business VDM Designs. The living room, which is in the new wing, has two seating areas, one that centers on a fireplace, the other one faces the marsh. On a shopping trip to Paris I found the perfect day bed to put at the marsh side, which is just right for a place to sit and even better for a lazy afternoon siesta. Many a night I have left our bedroom (and my snoring husband!) and watched the moon creep down and shine on the marsh inlet that is part of Bayou Petite Anse, which partially surrounds the island. Above the bay window there are two paintings of the sunrise and sunset from our front porch, which are by New Orleans artist Melissa Smith. Once situated in our home in New Orleans, the paintings now have a choice spot here at “Sundown.”
A day bed in the living room proves to be just the spot forMuffy, the Moseleys’ beloved Shih Tzu. The paintings above the windoware views of the marsh at sunrise and sunset and are by Melissa Smith.
Our furnishings are treasures and collections we have picked up while traveling—artwork by some friends and family, inherited furniture and portraits and pieces that we have designed together and had fabricated by a wonderful artisan. Our latest acquisition is an 1840s French hand-colored lithograph of game (the French like their game “aged”) which originally hung in Matt’s grandmother’s family breakfast room and was recently given to us by a favorite aunt.
A chandelier by VDM Designs is in the center of the living room,dividing each section. An arrangement of sunflowers is paired witharomatic rosemary from the herb garden.
The dining room has been enlarged since the addition of the new wing. The table seats 16 and we have memories of many wonderful occasions. Traditional holidays are special, and on good days we spill out on to the front porch to watch the setting sun. The moment is always dramatic and silence usually sweeps the porch when that great big red-yellow wafer slips below the horizon. Alas, the mosquitoes soon follow and chase us back inside. I love lots of candlelight which gives a wonderful glow throughout the house. I think the serene setting must be contagious as our last dinner guests stayed past midnight.
Asian wooden figures guard an Alexander Drysdale painting.
Our bedroom has the same view as the living room, but at the opposite side of the house. The 1830s four-poster walnut bed was found on Magazine Street when I went out to search for a desk for our eldest son. An instructor at the Newcomb Art School painted the 19th-century painting beside the bed. A favorite toile print was used in the panels above the windows and on the pillow shams on the bed.
While small, our kitchen has produced some good food and our friends seem to congregate there. We love having guests who enjoy cooking with us. I attempt to keep our summer dinners light, room temperature or cold, and easy. In addition
to the herbs and flowers in our gardens, we have espalier Meyer lemons on the front brick supporting posts, which I like to use in my new favorite recipe, Limoncello, the Italian drink which can be served after dinner or casually spilled over fruit for dessert.
Our children, Marsh and Avery, cherish the time spent with us at home now as they both live away. Their childhoods were rich in the enjoyment of wildlife and adventure, and now they share our passion for cooking and entertaining together as a family. Though the house began as a second home—and still is, as we have a condominium in New Orleans—“Sundown” is where our hearts live.
Easy Tips for Entertaining
VDM Design’s Ginja Moseley is known for her skills at organizing stylish parties with ease. Here are a few of her suggestions to make your summer entertaining a breeze.
• Keep everything and everyone cool. Offer room temperature or cold meals and cool drinks, including herbed or fruit iced teas. Have your entertaining repertoire be easy-to-prepare hors d’oeuvres, a one-pot main course and a dessert.
• Keep a well-stocked bar and pantry.
• Offer a special cocktail when friends arrive. (I like Mojitos made with local raw sugar, rum, limes, mint and ginger ale.)
• Play light, upbeat music—ask your friends to bring CDs or iPods.
• Provide a fresh assortment of reading material for overnight guests. (We have magazines on shelter, food, gardening and lifestyle.)
• Place fresh flowers (especially fragrant ones) and greens throughout the house, and fruit and snacks in each bedroom.
• Plan ahead, don’t be afraid to ask for help, relax and have fun!
Ginja Moseley’s bedroom dressing table looks out over the yard and the Western marsh. The armoire is from Petricia Thompson Antiques.
Large palmetto leaves are placed in a French olive jar on top of an 18th-century French provencal buffet. The mirror is Louis XVI-style and the chair is 19th-century latterback.
The Moseleys had a local craftsmen make leaves for the dining room table so it could seat 16. The chandelier is by VDM Designs. The plates are from Siena, Italy. The painting over the fireplace is an 1840s French hand-colored lithograph that was Matt Moseley’s grandmothers.
“Sundown” was originally constructed from two tiny cottages moved from Avery Island’s salt mine village. The addition was built to mirror the original building. The cupola was copied from those on top of the French Market.
The entrance to the herb garden.
The view of the yard and Western marsh from the front porch. The parterre, designed by Matt Moseley, was originally measured out using bags of flour. The design has recently been enlarged and the fountain moved when the house was expanded, so the garden and fountain are centered with the house. “If I knew what was involved, I don’t know if I would have done it!” says Matt Moseley.