Hamptons Designer Showhouse 2014

Saturday was Traditional Home’s annual Gala Preview Cocktail Party for the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, benefiting Southampton Hospital. As always, it was a vibrant and summery event with beautiful interiors and an attractive & interesting crowd. I was thrilled to meet Jamie Drake for the first time and gabbed with my favorite charmer Mario Buatta. Below are a mix of some of my favorite rooms and details.. and some I thought you might enjoy!

The Hamptons Designer Showhouse is open daily Monday to Sunday, July 20 through Monday, September 1. Hours: 11AM to 5PM. Admission is $35 and includes a Journal. For more info and directions click here.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services. One of two Slim Aarons photographs above consoles flank the door from the foyer.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services

Kitchen cabinets by Ciuffo Cabinetry

Living room by Lillian August

Details from the living room by Lillian August

A view in the study by Greg McKenzie Design. Note the embroidered wallpaper detail.

Delicious details from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

Detail from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

A playful powder room by Melanie Roy Design

A view in Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

A detail from Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bath. I LOVE this artwork signed “LBall2012″

Details from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

A detail from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

Mabley Handler Interior Design’s striking bedroom

Details from Kate Singer Home’s guest bedroom

A view into the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

Details of the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

A details from Phoebe Howard’s bedroom. I really like this piece.

Punchy master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

More views in the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates (Tobi on left)

A detail from the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

Four watercolors by Mark Humphrey adorn the upstairs hall

A view from the master bedroom balcony onto the back yard where the party was about to pick up (I shot this before most of the crowd showed up)

Wonderful little guesthouse with pergolas on either side (this is the back). Exterior spaces by designer Caleb Anderson Design

Links to the designers shown above:

Mecox Design Services
Ciuffo Cabinetry
Lillian August
Greg McKenzie
Melanie Roy
Henry and Co Design
Katie Leede
Gil Walsh
Mabley Handler Interior Design
Kate Singer
Phoebe Howard
Tobi Fairley
Caleb Anderson

Thanksgiving with Style

Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! For all you hosts out there, don’t wait for the panic to set in. Take care of your tabletop(s) now so that you can put your heart into the food preparation later… and actually enjoy it.

Whether you have a game plan or not, I’d recommend popping into The Little Flower Shoppe in Ridgewood, NJ for their Stress-free Holiday Decorating Party tomorrow night (Thursday, Nov 14, 2013, 6-8pm). RSVP: 201 652 7600 or info@raimondihg.com. Fabulous flower extraordinaire, Anne Miller (who has worked with the likes of Preston Bailey and David Tutera) will be giving floral advice and dishing inspirational tabletop ideas. Ridgewood Fare will be serving up delicious bites and giving pointers on cuisine. And in the proper spirit of Thanksgiving, a portion of the evenings sales proceeds will be going to Children’s Aid and Family Services.

Here is the Thanksgiving table I styled with florals and frills from said Anne Miller. I asked for “dark, rich and deadly” and she delivered:

Photography by Laura Moss.
Anne sourced all the flowers (and miniature orchids) and fruit (miniature eggplants, figs, gourds, grapes, various berries, and these incredible little green spiky seedpods) directly from the flower district in New York. Bring her any vessel that’s right for your table, mantle, doorway, etc and she will fill it with the the most beautiful work you’ve ever seen.

The salad plates and dinner plates are from a totally fabulous buying trip to 200+ year-old porcelain factory, Royal Limoges—the oldest existing porcelain factory in all of Limoges, France—but you can pull this look off with whatever whites you have at home. Throw a pop color in there for fun: I found these celadon green dinner plates at Crate & Barrel that at first I thought were a knock off, but I they appear to actually be made by Jars, a very well respected stoneware factory in France (I also have a set of this exact dinnerware in a dark green: it’s totally awesome and totally rustic and totally perfect for a hearty Thanksgiving meal). The flatware is a vintage brass set I picked up at an estate sale years ago, but I found a ton of Ricci Argentieri’s “Bamboo d’Oro” on (my favorite website) replacements.com. Frankly I’d recommend the electroplated gold over the brass any day because mine is nearly impossible to keep polished. There are tons of sets on online auction houses too… happy hunting and happy thanksgiving! xx Mere

Hampton Designer Showhouse


Mark your calendars decor deal-finders and haute-hunters! Only one more week to go until Traditional Home’s annual Hampton Designer Showhouse has their online auction! A handful of special items from each designer will be auctioned off… and (a portion of) the proceeds will benefit Southampton Hospital.

A few weekends ago, my husband Ryerson and I attended the Gala Preview Party for the debut of the 2013 Hampton Designer Showhouse. The party was lively, the cocktails were flowing, the crowd was very glamorous and the interior design was exceptional.

Though we did not get to meet him, we saw Thom Felicia (if you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see him checking in). Upon arrival, we decided to see the house before checking out the outdoor party—which turned out to be a good game plan—and we moved through each room and meet all the designers with ease and sans traffic.

After passing through Celerie Kemble‘s grand but restful master bedroom, I spotted idol and decor celeb (and Honorary Showhouse Chairman), Mario Buatta. I immediately turned red and noted the lack of AC in the house. I’ve met Mr. Buatta probably 3 or 4 times now, but have never managed to have a satisfying conversation over the sound of my chattering teeth. This time was no better… He had an absurdly robust plume of chest hair protruding from the top of his neckline—normally buttoned and bow-tied—that I fought hard not to make eye-contact with while I reintroduced myself. I explained that I had just written a magazine column on him and his new retrospective (Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration, published by Rizzoli) that is about to come out. He seemed amused watching as I struggled with his practical joke (see photos below, it was indeed faux chest hair that came out later in the party). We parted ways—me reeling from missed opportunities of composure and humor—and bee-lined it for the bar.

The back yard was abustle with a lively, quintessential Hamptons summer party crowd. After procuring a cocktail, we had the pleasure of bumping into another of my interior design idols, Vicente Wolf, and his friend (also a well-known interior designer) Matthew Yee. We were engaging in a nice little chat (everything my Buatta conversation was not) until—out of nowhere—Vicente & Matthew sprang away! Before I could worry about what I’d said, the lawn sprinkler soaked my lower half, and I too leapt backwards (before it got my white silk shirt) and watched in shock as women (and men) screamed and ran. Gowns got soaked, seersucker wilted, and white linen pants became see-through. It was hilarious. And a blessing in disguise? I think so: it was over 100°F and wildly humid out.

After that, it was time to go. Plenty of excitement for one decor party night.


ABOVE: Lillian August‘s cheerful and punchy dining room. I love the painting on the back wall by Julie Headland.
BELOW: Bakes and Company‘s kitchen with outrageous countertops and custom refrigerators and freezer drawers (shown bottom left). Hot!

Below (3 photos) of Patricia Fisher Design‘s sitting area and breakfast nook. The saffron and light grey with pops of bright green were a refreshing and inviting combo.


Below (2) photos taken from upstairs of the guests cruising through the entry foyer by Michael Herold Design, and the living room by Brian del Toro Inc.

Brady Design‘s beautiful and serene guest room/tv room. The hand-crafted mattress upholstered in baby alpaca was the inspiration for the room, as it could be used as a lounge during the winter OR covered with sheets during the guest-ing season.

Alan Court & Associates‘s (Alan shown below) created a stunning guest bath with stone and leather walls! I had to touch.

Barbara Page Home‘s playful guest room overlooking the backyard had dramatic photography from Robin Rice Gallery

Celerie Kemble‘s master bedroom with charcoal seagrass walls and pops of turquoise and blue hues.
The charming Mr. Mario Buatta, before and after my chest shrug run-in. I guess he got too hot! Here’s a link to the piece I wrote about his book that comes out in September

Below is my favorite room in the house, by Bradley Stephens, Stephens Design Group (photo courtesy of KDHamptons.com). These masculine quarters share a 2-sided fireplace with the master bedroom and the ceiling (though you can’t tell from the photo) covered in a fabulous, distressed-wood wallpaper. Bradley said it was a painstaking job, but added so much to the room that it was worth the effort. The room was eclectic and handsome and had a wonderful mix of art and artifacts, including an dissected lobster, similar to one I saw a few years back in the world-famous taxidermist, Deyrolle (one of my favorite places in Paris).

Michael Mariotti’s glamorous master bath with patterned seagrass walls, ornate tiling, and a beautiful leather bench with flocatti throw.

Sherrill Canet Interior’s Morroccan-inspired family room for Pearson (where all the furniture and textiles are from). Sherrill laid all the mirrors out on the ground in the middle of a market in Morrocco in order to visualize them in this comfortable and graphic room!

Ken Gemes’s casual outdoor dining area facing the backyard party

The lively outdoor party

One of the aforementioned fashion-foiling sprinklers (below left); and the guests running from the scene (below right). My sad, wet, bejeweled shoes (not shown)
Click here for Editor at Large’s video coverage of the event with Traditional Home’s stylish Tory Mellot (who I worked w/at Elle Decor) doing interviews.
To read about other fabulous Hamptons events (and laugh hysterically), check out my cousin Ted Kruckel’s most recent BizBash column, “This Year’s Hamptons Events: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous”

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amerelife.com by Meredith McBride Kipp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

© Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tea is for Travel

Photography by Laura Moss. Styling by me, Meredith McBride Kipp.


It’s the time of year again when most of us are aching for exotic excursions and warm weather. I came up with a way to savor both; sans security lines at the airport.
Travel to Morocco, China and the Philippines via these delicious tea-based cocktails that I have painstakingly (wink) tinkered with and tested.

Let your summer out early with these colors and flavors and ENJOY!
(and leave a comment if you have suggestions on the recipes)

Moroccan Mint Marteani

travel inspiration: Morocco

For the tea:
5 cups water
4 bags of black tea
4 tablespoons brown sugar
Bring water to boil and then add the tea and brown sugar. Let tea cool, then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely.

For the cocktial:
4 ice cubes
16 fresh mint leaves
2 cups tea
2 tablespoons Rose’s lime juice
1 cup vodka
Shake ice and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker for a minute or long enough to bruise the mint. Add remaining ingredients and shake. Pour into glass and garnish with lime and fresh mint sprig. makes 3-4 drinks

Green Tea Fizz

travel inspiration:  China

For the tea:
Brew a pot of green tea (I used FAUCHON‘s Le Jasmin Chung Hao). Sweeten it with honey to taste (I used honey from a local beekeeper). Cool the tea in the freezer until starting to frost (you want this drink icy-cold and refreshing).

For the cocktial:
In each glass, pour equal parts green tea and (also extremely chilled) prosecco. Garnish with a squeeze of cumquat or orange, rub the rim with the rind, and serve with a curled sliver of rind on the rim. makes 6-7 drinks

 

Salabat (Ginger Tea) Mule

travel inspiration:  the Philippines

For the tea:
3 cups water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
5-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced into discs (grate a little bit of it too)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 10 minutes. Cool tea then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely.

For the cocktial:
2 ounces Goslings dark rum
4 ounces cooled and strained Salabat ginger tea
Club Soda
Lime
In a glass filled with ice, add the rum and ginger tea. Top off with club soda, and a squeeze of lime. makes 1 drink

Photography by Laura Moss. Styling by me, Meredith McBride Kipp.

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amerelife.com by Meredith McBride Kipp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

© Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Haute Hamptons Showhouse

My husband & I attended Traditional Home’s Hampton Designer Showhouse Preview Party in Watermill last weekend. To be honest—given the current climate—I wasn’t expecting much; showhouses everywhere have been suffering from this economic crisis. I was pleasantly surprised, however: new and fun ideas were abound, eclectic collections glorified, exotic chances taken.

Not only was it a lively party with great food, a cool crowd and tremendous gift bags (best I’ve seen in years), but the designers knocked it out of the park.

My ultimate favorite of the evening was Katie Leede’s upstairs guest room. She made a lot of unexpected materials sing together. It was a cozy, luxurious, and super-sexy bedroom.

Other highlights of the evening were: Robert Passal’s bright, playful master bedroom; Tamara Kaye-Honey’s fabulously twisted baby’s room; the handsome living room (shown at the very top right) by Patrick Lönn Design ripe with equestrian flourishes; and the vibrant dining room by Mabley Handler Interior Design.

This year’s Showhouse is located at 80 Flying Point Road, Water Mill, NY and is open daily (11AM to 5PM) through September 3, 2012. Go check it out before it ends. It’s chock-full of inspiration.

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© Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Designer Showhouse Soirée

On Saturday evening, I attended the Preview Party of The Designer Showhouse of New Jersey with stylish and hilarious friend, Meg Bashaw. We gabbed with tons of guests and designers at “Hidden Acres Estate”—a 10 acre property in the Chestnut Ridge area of Saddle River, NJ. Traditional Home is sponsoring the 11,000 sq. ft. home featuring more than 20 interior and landscape designers.
The showhouse is open daily through June 10th (closed Mondays) from 10am to 4pm. General admission is $30. The Heart & Vascular Hospital and Emergency Trauma Department of Hackensack University Medical Center will benefit from all proceeds.

The entryway (below) by modelesque sisters Linda Maley & Lisa Keyser of Whitepop was dramatic and fun. I particularly loved their Jagger altar at the top of the stairs.

The dining room (below) was sexy, sophisticated and eclectic. No surprise, as Jennifer McGee masters those qualities in all her work. She had fabulous artwork, comfortable chairs and great focal points. I especially loved the built-in lounge in the corner (shown below with friend Meg Bashaw) that would be a great spot for cocktails before or after a dinner party.

Next we hit Philip La Bossiere’s room (my favorite room of the evening), an ultra-chic den/study (below). His attention to fine (and inventive) detail would make anyone want to upholster a bookshelf. His work is casual and relaxed, yet so very polished. LOVE.

Down the hall to a total SHOW-STOPPER, Keith Baltimore’s ultra-glamorous party room (below). I can definitely imagine my alter-ego smoking Nat Shermans with a cigarette holder and sipping endless bubbly in here.

Upstairs we found Barbara Ostrom’s office (below) calming and just the right combo of lodge and cabana.

Opposite Barbara’s office (below), was the spouse’s office, handsomely decorated by  the lovely duo Susan & Eugene Barbieri. LOVED the carpet. LOVED the RL lamps. And great artwork by Richard Bruce.

And last, but certainly not least, Colin Patrick Corcoran (friend of a friend as it turns out) decked out a luscious bedroom (below) with eclectic and interesting art and objets. I appreciated his mix of materials throughout the room—from geodes and alligator skin to watercolors and shagreen—there was plenty of texture to behold.

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amerelife.com by Meredith McBride Kipp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

© Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Tables Have Turned…

Last night I attended my favorite annual DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) event, Dining by Design, hosted by Architectural Digest. It’s an intimate and lively party where internationally celebrated designers and local talent create inspiring three dimensional dining installations. Nestled up against Architectural Digest’s Home Design Show at Pier 94, this oasis of extraordinary dining environments sets the stage for five days of fundraising.

Every year, I look forward to the the feast of visual and culinary inspiration that is DBD, and I was not disappointed. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian of The Lambs Club had crazy-delicious bites in Chinese soup spoons—one with a scallop and another with an english pea puree—and Effen Vodka was serving up delectable cucumber-vodka tonics. Tonight will be the second part of DBD: a $500/ticket gala dinner where attendees will dine in the dreamed-up spaces and then dance the night away.

The installations will be on display to the public today through Sunday. Tickets are $25 and benefit DIFFA.

Here’s a sneak peek…

I loved Design Within Reach’s (table above) miniatures (below) at each setting!
Loved the chairs at Domoore Designs table (below)

The equestrian references all over Eric Warner’s table (below) were clever and chic. Note bridal gear around light and hanging stirrup votives and I LOVE LOVE LOVED the plates! Side note: good use of Baccarat glassware.


Goil Amornvivat (you may recognize him from Bravo’s Top Design) & Tom Morbitzer’s (above) totally CNC-cut setting (below)—with American and Thai (Goil was born in Bangkok) references—was very cool. See their Frenchies in the background under the rainbow. Godzilla: very funny cliche reference. Love it.

Jonathan Adler did a stellar job with Kravet‘s table (below). I love his use of bathroom fixtures (?) as handles on the back of each section of the table. The backs of each seat are the walls of the unit.


Had a blast (drinking La Crema wine, a hugely-generous sponsor of the event) with friend, Marc Blackwell, at his gorgeous bar-height table (below). I particularly loved his filament fixture that ran the length of the table.


Marimekko’s wild and fabulous table was a serious show-stopper (below). LOVE!

Mark Cunningham‘s table (below) was definitely one of my favorites of the night. From the slatted walls to the leather chargers, it was warm, handsome and well-built. Absolutely gorgeous!


My husband, Ryerson Kipp (above), of The DSM Group admiring Maya Romanoff‘s golden palace of a table. When gabbing with (the handsome and elegant) Vicente Wolf, he said that—while he did not do a table this year—he helped these guys with their installation.
I thought the flooring (below) was made of placemats (which would be a really cool idea for a small space!), but I think they are samples of Romanoff surfaces.

And below is my favorite of the evening was this gem by Shawn Henderson Interior Design

New York Time’s table by DDC (below) was was a good example of how sometimes having strong pieces that speak for themselves is enough. The Baccarat chandelier is amazing and I love the tall Marcel Wanders piece in the middle. His collections for Baccarat are pure brilliance.

Pratt Institute
‘s table (below) wasn’t the most aspirational of spaces but it had a few really interesting things going on. Note the woven tabletop.

The Ralph Lauren team knocked it out of the park again with their super luscious lodge that was just the right mix of horn, fur and fire (below).

This table by RYDC was really fun. I loved the contrast of crustacean-laiden coral with high-shine lucite chairs (below).

This strung-out table (below) was by no means cozy, but it was BEAUTIFUL and so photogenic! The reflection of the long, narrow fixture in the tabletop was outrageous and all the materials used really spoke to one another. I think this is a good example of a wildly successful installation for this kind of event. Some tables are amazing in person but terrible in photos. This one was striking in person and even more so on film.

Swarovski’s table (below) was wild with wrap-around flat screens playing sparkly, blue video. At each place-setting: platinum Aegean china by always-ultra-glamorous (yet practical) L’Objet.


I really loved the floral arrangements from Maya Romanoff’s table (below) and Liebherr’s table (far below). Very fresh and springy!

Dining By Design 2012


The Dining by Design circuit begins again next month (March 22-26) at Pier 94 on the west edge of Manhattan at 55th Street. Always starting in New York and then traveling to other major domestic design hubs, this annual soiree—hosed by Architectural Digest and benefiting DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS)—is a party to behold.

2012 will be (I think) my 10th year in attendance—thanks originally to my mentor from my early 20’s (to present), Ted Kruckel, who brought me to my first DBD as his assistant. I got all gussied up, shadowed him and took notes: who he spoke with, highlights of the event including food, flow, lighting, celebrities (and famous drag queens), you know… the vitals. All it took was one beach-themed table with barely-dressed lifeguards and I was hooked. Now, every year, I look forward to the the feast of visual and culinary inspiration that is DBD; the new and exciting decor ideas, the classics reinvented, delicious bites from top chefs, endless cocktails, impulsive silent auction must-haves, and the run-ins with old friends. Here are a sampling of my photos from last year’s unveiling.

 


Benjamin Moore exhibit: creative way to make light of the vast array of their hues.

 

DVF's table. Fun atmosphere.

 

Super chic and so well done! I didn't catch who designed it but makes me think of the Furry Wall song from Russell Brand's flick, Get Him to the Greek.

 

This table smelled so good! Fragrant spring flowers at each setting will make for happy guests.

With friend, Marc Blackwell at his table. He grew amaryllis all summer (for the foliage, not the flower), photographed them and then blew them up to decorate his super comfortable, custom table.

Loved this comfy, technicolor party table by Scandia. Great atmosphere!

Great atmosphere and fabulous mid-century chairs. LOVE the wings, very rock n roll

Ralph Lauren table. They always do a nice job but this year was so simple (looking) and country comfy.

 

My husband, Ryerson Kipp, of The DSM Group with designer Michael Tavano. Note Michael's amazing chairs with lucite back and flokati seats! yum

Click here to see more photos from DBD 2011 in my event coverage for Health & Life magazine from last March.
To learn more about DBD and DIFFA and to buy tickets (will be on sale soon).
To host your own installation click here. To contribute to the silent auction click here.

WINTER WHITES

This year, curb the urge to use your old red and green holiday decorations. Instead, keep it chic. Use these entertaining ideas to help break your old habits and embrace a new palette
Story, Styling and Stationery by me, Meredith McBride Kipp
Floral Design by Anne Miller  ·  Photography by Roey Yohai
Flanking doorways and the fireplace with preserved juniper trees will make a large room feel more intimate. Potted topiaries like these are also a chic alternative to a traditional Christmas tree and a great solution for small spaces.Add dimension and a punch of color at each table setting with a sculptural piece of seasonal produce like an artichoke or pomegranate.Adorn the table with a few beautiful, unexpected objects, like these antique silver pheasant salt and pepper shakers that I found at an estate sale.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and setting the tone for such a sentiment is all about creating great atmosphere. When it comes to holiday decorating, the hardest part is staying away from the expected. Resist the temptation to use all of your saved decorations from years past. Instead, try something new: Pick a color palette and stick to it. What doesn’t fit the bill goes back to the attic or gets a fresh coat of paint. This year, think white. White is the epitome of modernity, elegance and balance. Mixing snow white with traces of green, black and silver is on trend and très chic.

To bring greenery and life into your dining room, New Jersey florist extraordinaire Anne Miller of The Little Flower Shoppe in Ridgewood recommends hanging an oversize wreath. Decorate it with items found in nature such as pinecones, acorns and berries to enchant guests. Flank the hearth and doorway with preserved juniper topiary trees for an instant dose of warmth and intimacy.

For your holiday table, choose crisp white linens and layer them with a wide, black ribbon or runner down the center of the table and across at each place setting. This will add dimension to the table and visually anchor each setting. When it comes to flatware, glassware and china, you don’t need to have the best; you just need to know how to use what you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to mix like-colored pieces—whites with off-whites, stainless steel with silver and mercury glass or crystal with glass. (For a lesson from the experts in mixing it up, stop into Michael C. Fina in NYC) Place your white china on a clear, silver or white charger—layering adds dimension to the table. To add sparkle, use clear glassware and stemware and mix styles to vary the height and look. For centerpieces, Miller says to keep the botanicals simple and seasonal. The velvety texture of Vendela roses and silvery grey Tilandisa is warm and wintry and helps create the mood for a luxurious cold-weather soiree. For an intimate dinner party, keep the arrangements under 12 inches high so as not to disrupt the festive repartee.

Bring the black-and-white theme from your mailed invitation through to the place card and menu—it’s really chic and your guests will appreciate the detail. Keep the design simple and modern, and make things easy for yourself by having your local stationer do them for you. Place a menu on top of each napkin, then wrap the napkin and menu with ribbon or a paper strip that matches the invite. Top it all off with a fresh artichoke to add unexpected texture, dimension and a punch of color.

Lastly, make sure the lighting is just right—if you don’t have dimmers on your fixtures, just use candles (always unscen-ted around food) aided by the glow from an illuminated room nearby. Cluster large mercury glass pieces and other silver objects together to bring a little sparkle to darker areas of the room. Carry elements of this onto your table by way of mercury glass votives and a few small silver objects, and you’ll have plenty of sparkle to go around during this festive season.

1 The Little Things
  Something simple like a sachet full of lavender or a bag of homemade cookies makes a nice gift for your guests. Tie it off with a ribbon and an ornament and place it on their chairs.
2 Get Centered  A dramatic flower arrangement is a great way to wow your guests. You can bring your own vases to the florist and have him or her create arrangements that work for your table. If flowers are out of the budget, cluster like-colored objects of varying heights in the center of the table.
3 Keep it Coming  Always keep your guests’ water and cocktail glasses filled—your service is very important and much appreciated.
4 Put it on Paper  Despite the multitude of e-mail and Web-based invite options these days, it’s a nice gesture to send guests a printed invitation to your party. Use the same style in your place cards and menus to create a consistent theme.
5 Easy Does It  Food, especially desserts, that you can prepare beforehand (or buy) will save you time. French macaroons are always an elegant supplement to your homemade desserts, and they come in a multitude of colors to fit any theme. (Coordinating your food with your color palette will add impact and elegance.)

Click here to download my 2.5-hr Chic Party Playlist (on the iTunes store) to round out the evening. Held together with hints of weighty Bossa Nova, orchestral flair and bluegrass, this sexy, hip (yet classic) mix blends many genres to create the perfect background for an intimate dinner party or a laidback evening of cocktails.

Click here to download a PDF of the story.
Published in the Health&Life family of magazines. Circulation: 275,000

My Last Supper

I went to a dinner last night at City Grit, a new membership-based supper club for the underground foody world, located in the rear of a church on Prince Street in Soho. It’s a fabulous antiques and furniture shop by day and an uber-cool supper club by night. The chef there, Sarah Simmons (who was running the club out of her apartment for many years before they found this space) put together a 5-course dining experience to go hand in hand with the launch of My Last Supper, The Next Course by Melanie Daneu (author and photographer). Melanie has spent the last few years traveling around the globe to interview and shoot every world-class chef. The book—second after My Last Supper—showcases stunning portraits of each chef, along with their last meal and even the recipes! Melanie is a very well-known portrait photographer, as is her husband Nigel Parry. She also has a food/photography blog worth checking out mylastsupper.com.

Sarah Simmons’ of City Grit pulled the following 5 courses together from My Last Supper, The Next Course to give us a ridiculously tasty intro to the gorgeous book:

1. Eric Ripert‘s truffled country bread with Gabrielle Hamilton‘s soft scrambled eggs
2. Micael Symons little pork meatballs with mint and cracked pepper pasta
3. Dan Barber‘s braised pig salad
4. Daniel Humm‘s herb roasted lamb with parmesan cream grits and Suzane Groin‘s italian brocoli with shallots, garlic and red pepper
5. April Bloomfield‘s banotee pie