On my Fourth of July blog last week I posted pictures of a newly installed porch in a house that I designed in Nantucket. I have been so inspired by the idea of summer outdoor living that I decided to dedicate an entire blog to those special spaces.

We recently completed this outdoor area in South Hampton.  One of things I strive to accomplish is to create ample living spaces with enough room for lots of friends and family to gather. 

My years spent in Los Angeles, where outdoor spaces are usable year round, make me appreciate even more the time I have in the summer to live outside of my home in Connecticut. I like to think of outdoor spaces as an extension of the indoor rooms of a home, they should be comfortable, well designed and invite gathering for games, reading a book, a summer nap or a casual brunch or dinner party.

The abundance of beautiful outdoor fabrics allows for almost any piece to be brought outdoors. There is nothing more lovely than a poolside barbeque, sitting on a porch watching the sunset with a glass of rose or dining by candlelight surrounded by summer roses on a beautiful terrace. It does not have to be grand, even a simple café table surrounded by hurricanes in the garden can provide a perfect spot to enjoy the long and luxurious days of summer.

Here are a few of my go-to ideas for outdoor spaces:

Keep it simple with classic designs but make the details stand out with contrasting piping and buttons.  

Wicker furniture is timeless.  The good news is wicker patio furniture is offered in weather resistant materials that I love to use with patio installations.  It works so well with patterned fabric including chintz and checks.  

Carolyne Roehm, who has flawless style, uses blue Restoration Hardware hurricane lamps to pop an outdoor dinner table.  

I love hanging vintage lamps with candles to create a romantic scene.  Having cake plate jars is not only beautiful but helpful to keep things fresh. 

Move the living room outdoors!  I love white slipcovered sofas, blue and white Chinese jars and stools mixed in with vintage pillows. Different textures like linens ,rattan and ceramics give the space a true lived in feel. I love to bring a lamp outdoors as well.

 

Be spontaneous! I love to invite friends over with short notice to enjoy a beautiful night on my porch overlooking the water.  Have a proven formula on how to throw a dinner party!  It's relatively easy when you know how to set up the table (that's why I encourage clients to have collections of plates , vases, linens etc), organize the dinner with prepping as much ahead of when guests arrive and with a menu that is delicious.  The results is everything looks effortless and everyone has a wonderful time.  

Entertaining is my favorite thing to do all year. But summer gives me the opportunity to take it to a whole other level. I love to take full advantage of the gorgeous weather here in Connecticut.  Our porch is lit with twinkling lights, my table is a mix of all of my favorite vintage blue and white tablecloths and blue and white vases filled with my garden roses. Tons of candles and I mean tons. This all sets the scene for what has become our favorite way to spend time with family and friends. 

My menu:

Start with cocktails, Rose, Chardonnay with incredible cheeses and crackers

Main Course;

Pesto Salmon:

Large salmon filet with home made pesto - fresh basil, roasted pine nuts, olive oil

Spread pesto on fish and roast in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes.

Roasted truffle potatoes:

Toss quartered red potatoes with olive oil, course salt and pepper

Roast at 375 for 45 minutes, remove from oven and toss with truffle butter.

 

Heirloom tomatoes with Burrata and garlic croutons

 

Salad: Shaved brussels sprouts and chopped Kale with toasted hazelnuts and blue cheese

Home made salad dressing:

1/4 cup lemon juice,tablespoon of dijon, salt and peper, one minced shallot, 3/4 cup olive oil

Herb/garlic ciabatta bread

1 softened cube of butter mixed with chopped fresh herbs.  I like fresh oregano and basil salt and pepper, a sprinkle of cayenne, then wrap in foil bake for 25 at 350. Open up foil and broil for 3-5 minutes

Three berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream:

Mixed fresh berries tossed with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, one orange zest. Then blend 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 cup oatmeal, 1 cup brown sugar, and 2 cold cubes of unsalted butter. Combine in mixer with paddle mix until butter is a size of pea. Place berries in oven proof dish and sprinkle topping on. Bake for 40 minutes at 350. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

 

Crantucket Cookies:

Blend 2 sticks of softened butter with a blend of white and brown sugar to measure 1 1/2 cups. then add 2 eggs, 1 tsp of vanilla. In another bowl mix 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda, add to butter mixture and blend. Then add a package of white chocolate chips, 1 cup of dried cranberries and 1 cup of dried blueberries, blend. Scoop and bake on cookie sheets at 350 for 14 minutes. Perfect summer cookie. Red white and blue!

Years ago when I lived in Los Angeles while building our home and raising our daughters, I found myself wanted something to do in the design world. I became a merchandiser for a children's furniture store and quickly started doing interior design for clients babies rooms. A few years later when I moved to the East Coast, I opened my firm here in Greenwich. My projects were no longer just children's rooms as they are full scale projects sometimes from the ground up. It always makes me very happy when I get to do kids rooms and this project below was for a very cute 10 year old girl. We said goodbye to her sweet baby nursery looking room and said hello to a teenager suite. We chose pink but not baby pink, it's a strong grown up pink. And since the room was very small, we broke through the ceiling and added a fun secret room that is now her hang out room.  When we installed the room we did it as a big "TA-DA!!"  The little girl had several friends over anticipating the big reveal.  She had them run in first and as they ran back to get her, you could hear one of the little girls say "Oh W... IT'S STUNNING"  Such a cute moment!

We used Raoul Fabrics, China Seas and furniture from Jonathan Adler.  The custom headboard is now on my home collection.  

The stairs to upstairs nook we created also utilized a desk and some extra storage.  

The upstairs nook is perfect for quiet time or fun girl sleepovers.  

There are so many reason why I love the color pink. Maybe it's because I have three daughters and maybe it's because I love my english garden full of roses, peonies and pink hydrangeas.  It's probably because the color pink is so soft and charming and seems to me to be the perfect back drop to most anything. I get inspired with the color pink when relaxing in my garden, baking cakes and decorating with my pink roses, and of course in my interior designs. 

I am known for my love or some might say obsession of blue and white but I always lean towards a beautiful shade of pink when I am looking to design a soft romantic palette.

I am inspired by indian textiles and so many of them have pinks ranging from deep fuchsia to lights shell pink.  There are just so many beautiful fabrics to choose.

When it comes to paint my go to is Calamine by Farrow and Ball.  It's in my own entry and it's absolutely perfect!!!

Then, of course, the flowers.  My husband (the rose man) and I have a garden full of David Austin roses with so many different shades of pink. There is nothing better than filling your vases with the cuttings from your garden.

I can't wait for my roses to start blooming.  We currently have leaves sprouting and every rose survived the mild winter.  I'll do a blog soon on the garden progress.  

I loved designing this bathroom for my client who loves pink too as we'll discuss a few pictures below...

I have had these four on my Pinterest forever.  Come get lost on my Pinterest pages @thorntondesigns

That super special client who likes pink had us do her office in pink.  Pink Venetian plaster with Raoul fabric drapes.  Even the custom designed armoire we created used for TV, printer and storage was lined in Raoul fabric. And of course a custom lampshade in pink.

On the other side of the room was a vintage sofa that we covered in Raoul fabric. 

Pink touches on the De gournay walls, the custom pink lampshades, draperies and the pink seat cushions. 

On Spring weekends, we love to visit the White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut.  So much beauty and inspiration.  Everything comes full circle.  

Where others often start with furniture plans or maybe a rug, for me, fabric has always provided the narrative to the story of the house and the people who live there. I have envisioned the design of an entire room off of a swoon worthy floral print or a linen or velvet that give a layered and textural quality to the space.  When fate and luck collided and I started designing for other people, fabric became my ultimate form of expression, and to this day it never ceases to amaze me how a perfectly placed pillow in a great linen print, a chair in a classic ticking stripe or an ottoman in the softest blue velvet can transform a room and create the canvas for the well lived life that will play out in that space.  In my office, we often will create mood boards to lead us in a design direction.  People, places, gardens, restaurants, and fashion combine to create a beautiful color palette.  

For the launch of my first home collection, I have paid homage to my love of blue and white, which is and always has been, a signature of the romantic American interiors I create. I am thrilled to offer the collection with several of my favorite fabric designers: Carolina Irving, Lisa Fine, Raoul Textiles, Colefax and Fowler, Bennison, Fortuny, Elizabeth Eakins, Ralph Lauren and China Seas. Pairing their seriously pretty prints and stripes with the perfect solid linens, Oxford cloth, ticking stripe and velvet we have sourced give you endless options for creating beautiful pieces for your home. The scale of the fabrics are perfectly proportioned so one can furnish an entire room or home.  

I love our Montecito Ottoman with Raoul fabric in front of a pair of our Madison English Tufted Chairs in Indigo Velvet.  

The Raoul fabric on this Isleboro Sofa is on the way to a very happy client.