Summer is synonymous with spontaneity. Long days and sultry nights give rise to last-minute weekend getaways and impromptu pool parties. So when it comes to entertaining, any event – even if it’s an elegant dinner party that you’ve planned for weeks – should feel as free-spirited as the season itself.
A polished party doesn’t have to feel stuffy. Like a gorgeous summer sundress, the setting should be feminine, flirty, colorful and cool.
Show your flair for the dramatic by mixing and matching textures, patterns and color. Unlikely designs and unexpected colors engage the senses and create a buzzworthy party even before the first cocktail is poured.
The Quatrefoil Outdoor Dining Chair is clearly a surprise. Styled like an indoor chair with an upholstered seat and back, the flower shape adds a touch of whimsy to the table setting.
A mosaic of patterns and colors – romantic florals and lively geometrics, jewel-tone blues and citrusy greens – adds a charming effervescence to the scene.
A table setting brings a sense of order to the party….tableware, flatware, glassware, linens. There’s a place for everything. Yet the setting should have elements of surprise. Upbeat hues, fanciful accessories and splashes of color make it look good enough to eat.
Artistic little tables, whimsical elephants and even a patio umbrella add energy.
Effervescent hues meet dazzling style. Get a splash of color on our Palm Springs Dream pinterest board:
Hello, hello! We’re guest bloggers John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon of interior design firm Madcap Cottage. We are thrilled to be designing the covered porch at the 2015 Hampton Designer Showhouse in partnership with our friends at Frontgate.
About us: We’re known for our whimsical use of pattern and color. We scour the world for eclectic finds that capture our unique, gimlet-eyed viewpoint. Imagine a British country house that pairs Granny’s antiques and a spirited dash of chinoiserie chic with a soupçon of Morocco-meets-India élan. If you are looking for beige and boring, bark up someone else’s tree!
We run our firm—an ever-changing design laboratory—from a former pharmacy in the heart of High Point, North Carolina, the hub for American decorative arts. You can shop the Madcap Cottage line of bedding, window treatments, and pillows exclusively on HSN and at HSN.com.
And here’s a bit about our vision for the Hampton Designer Showhouse covered porch:
Turkey! India! England! A splash of Hong Kong and a whirl through the hills of Tuscany! Mix, shake, then pour. Our design reflects a passion for travel and a desire to bring your adventures home. We love exuberant patterns and a high-octane color palette. Who says you can’t mix stripes and florals? Certainly not us … for the Madcaps are your resident Prints Charmings—that’s P-R-I-N-T-S, folks.
Here are “before” photos of the covered porch. Wow, there’s a lot of work to be done … but, luckily, we have amazing products at hand to create our magic.
We sketched our vision for the covered porch. Note the mix of patterns, the global inspiration, and the punch of color. And this is just one side of the covered porch; wait until you see the far end—so chic!
A pair of chaise lounges with jade-green cushions will serve as a focal point. How fun to curl up in such style in front of the fireplace. We love the exotic lines of these chaises.
A pair of side tables will serve as the perfect perches for cool cocktails beside the chaise lounges. Blue and white—you cannot go wrong with this classic design colorway.
A stunning, handpainted dining table, festooned with lemons, will anchor the dining area of the covered porch. Sit down at this table, and you will be whisked away to a sunny lemon grove in the Italian hills.
This outdoor planter will hang above the fireplace and serve as a vintage-looking centerpiece to the space. We love pieces that have patina and weathering. You never want a space to look new, new, new, but rather accumulated over time.
Jaunty cabana window treatments will enclose the covered porch and give it a plucked-from-Southern-France sensibility that perfectly pairs with the room’s eclectic vibe. And, yes, you can mix stripes with other patterns—just find one consistent tone that you can carry among the various patterns. In this space, green and blue are the neutral hues that work amongst the various pieces.
The 2015 Hampton Designer Showhouse in Bridgehampton, New York, opened July 25. View a video about the finished product. We hope you like it.”
Donatella Arpaia, the former lawyer-turned-culinary-mogul and Food Network star, shares her love of cooking and entertaining with us, bringing fun, drama and personality to your table.
I have lived in New York City forever, so I never thought I would fall in love with grilling. When I got married and we purchased our lake house, outdoor cooking became an integral part of my life. At first I let my husband do the grilling, but being a chef and (dare I say) slightly controlling in the kitchen, I slowly took over and fell in love! Here are my top tips for grilling.
Charcoal or Gas?
This question always sparks the great grilling debate, but as a busy working mom, I love the convenience, ease and clean up of a gas grill. The grill I use at home is a Lynx. It’s made in America and is “mom friendly and dad ready.” What more could I ask for?
Remember the Holy Grilling Trilogy: extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
Often in life – and in cooking – less is more, and the Grilling Trilogy is the epitome of that philosophy. I love using freshly ground pepper and a variety of high quality salts from all around the world. They add flavor and color that really enhances the grilling experience. As for extra virgin olive oil, what can I say? The ones from Italy are the best!
Keep an eye on the temperature
An instant-read thermometer is your best grilling friend. Use it to check the internal temperature of your meat. Grilling is much more of an art than a science, and cooking times will vary slightly based on many factors, including wind, thickness of food, starting temperature of food (refrigerator cold vs. room temperature), grill preheating time, and temperature of the fire. But don’t worry; the more you do it, the more you will get the hang of it!
Build a better burger
For each burger, take about six ounces of beef and pack it gently into a patty. Using your thumb, make a well in the center of the patty to keep your burger from forming into a football. Be sure you have a minimum 20% percent fat content to prevent a dry burger. Let a crust form, then flip the burger. And remember, your spatula is for flipping, not for flattening.
2 lbs. mixed beef brisket, skirt steak and sirloin steak (20% fat)
4 slices fresh mozzarella
1 sliced tomato
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hamburger Buns
Heat grill to medium-high heat.
Form meat into four 1-inch thick patties. Season generously with coarsely ground salt and pepper.
Lightly coat tomatoes and arugula with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Arrange patties on the grill and cover. Cook over moderately high heat for 3–4 minutes. Flip the patties and cook covered for 2 minutes longer. Top patties with mozzarella and cook for 1 minute covered until cheese melts lightly.
Brush King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hamburger Buns with extra virgin olive oil and grill for 20 seconds on each side. Place patties on bun and top with arugula and tomatoes.
Pay attention to your bun!
My go-to choice for buns is King’s Hawaiian. It’s a chef’s favorite because it’s made with real butter. I think the taste and the texture of buns are best when they are lightly toasted. To toast, simply split the bun open, brush lightly with olive oil, place it cut side down on the grill, and toast until light golden brown, about 10–20 seconds.
Go to the dogs
For a unique grilled hot dog, try my recipe for a bacon-wrapped hot dog!
4 hot dogs
4 slices center-cut bacon
Toppings of your choice; mustard, ketchup, relish
King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hot Dog Buns
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Wrap each hot dog in a strip of bacon, and secure with a toothpick. Place on the grill and cook until bacon is fully cooked and hot dog is warm inside, rotating the hot dog often so bacon cooks evenly.
Nestle hot dog in a King’s Hawaiian Sweet Hot Dog Bun, and top with mustard, ketchup and relish.
Pair your burger or hot dog with a sangria!
The perfect accompaniment while preparing and eating burgers and hot dogs on a hot summer day is my husband Allan’s white sangria. For a little fun, go exotic with star fruit!
3 bottles white wine (Chile or Spain)
9 oz. decent brandy (VSOP)
6 oz. triple sec
6 oz. simple sugar
9 oz. peach purée
3 cups pineapple juice
3 cups orange juice
Slices of star fruit, green apple, kiwi and a handful of grapes
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy!
For another refreshing cocktail, try our Elderflower-Berry Sangria, a sangria as golden as the sun.
Follow more of Donatella’s grilling adventures on Instagram @donatellaarpaia.
Christena Bender is a garden designer at The Good Earth Designs, where she has been designing beautiful gardens in Atlanta for more than 5 years. She’s worked with celebrity designers such as Chip Wade on projects such as the 2015 Atlanta Decorators’ Show House and Elbow Room on HGTV. We were so impressed with her work at the Show House that we asked her to be a guest blogger.
When it comes to making a first impression, your home’s entry makes more of an impact than you can imagine.
As an interior designer, Bridgette Boylan knew her home was in need of new plantings to showcase the entrances. After meeting with her and seeing her home, I knew that larger, more elegant planters were essential for showcasing the botanical presentation I had in mind.
Atlanta’s summers are unforgiving – hot and humid with daytime temperatures averaging 90° – so we needed hardy plants to ensure that they lasted the season.
For the side entrance, I chose Frontgate’s Athens Urn, a neoclassical urn with a wide planting area. We brought in gardenia radicans for their amazing fragrance and “kaleidoscope” abelia for its multi-colored foliage. The existing mature crape myrtle became the focal point in this intimate area, and the urns were a perfect complement.
At the front door, we wanted to make a splash. The dipladenia plant produces stunning bright red flowers all summer long. Purple fan flowers are superb in the hot Georgia summers (we’re in the USDA hardiness zone 7b/8a) and will flower non-stop, providing a pop of color against white vinca, as it cascades down the sides of the urn.
Accent plants add lasting depth and interest. I often use creeping Jenny, with its bright chartreuse color, around boulders or as ground cover (though it can be a bit invasive). A stark contrast is the purple heart, intense purple foliage that springs forth pink flowers as it matures through the season. For added drama, silver falls dichondra will drape over the sides adding even more depth and dimension. Lastly, creeping Charlie has a pleasant fragrance, and its green and white foliage is simply adorable.
The end result is simply stunning, transforming two keys areas into grand entrances worthy of Bridgette Boylan’s elegant home.
For more gardening inspiration, visit our Pinterest board.