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!

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.