If throwing a Summer shindig is the motivation you need to whip your backyard into shape, you've come to the right place. Luckily, Gilt Home Creative Director Tom Delavan has experience. Aside from his impressive interior design credentials (you may remember him as Domino's former editor at large), Tom's penchant for showing guests a good time without breaking a sweat makes him one of our top entertaining go-tos.
Keep reading for the alfresco hosting tips Tom relies on each Summer!
- Lighting is key
- Make a fire pit
- Outdoor furniture doesn't have to look like outdoor furniture
- Flowers, flowers everywhere
- Have good tunes
- Keep uninvited guests away
People often underestimate the amount of light needed outdoors. Not only does it look good, but it makes it easier to see who you're with and what you're eating! Use a mixture of lights — string lights, hurricanes, and tiki torches are my favorite. I usually buy votives in bulk at Ikea. If string lights are your thing, hang them high enough not to get in the way, but not so high that they don't illuminate. I like the idea of floating lights with unobtrusive supports. If you don't have a place to hang string lights, tiki torches are a great alternative.
A nice way to make more use of your outdoor space during cooler nights is to have a fire pit. Place chairs in a circle around the pit, or blankets and throws if you don't have enough chairs. The best nights are those when there's a nip in the air and you have to snuggle up with a blanket (or a friend). Make s'mores!
The latest trend in outdoor furniture is bringing the indoors out. There are a lot of great options that have the comfort and look of indoor furniture. Also, if the weather is good, you can bring actual indoor furniture to your deck or patio. If you want easy-to-maintain outdoor furniture, make sure that the wood or metal will weather well — I like the silvery hue that teak takes on — and go easy on the pillows; remember, you'll have to store them in bad weather. I also like wicker, but don't love plastic for outdoors (indoors, plastic can be stylishly ironic; outdoors, it just looks cheap). Powder-coated steel is great as well, but just be aware that more affordable options may rust quicker. Richard Schultz has a great design from the '60s. I love the Paulistano outdoor armchair and the wicker egg chair by Nanna Ditzel. I also like the butterfly chair, which is reasonably priced.
A lot of people think that if you're in a garden you don't need flowers on the table — but it's nice to think of the table as an extension of your garden. You can cut flowers and branches from your own backyard for an event — I like hydrangeas, daisies, or wildflowers. And for the rest of the time, buy easy-to-care-for potted herbs like sage and lavender. If you're entertaining at one large table, I would do a grouping of plants in different sizes, or a small one by every table setting (imagine succulents).
Put together a great playlist and make sure the music is loud enough to be heard, but not so loud as to prevent conversation. I like to mix some current songs with some oldies. Personally, I'm a fan of melancholy music, but I don't inflict that on my guests.
Nothing is less relaxing than being bitten by mosquitoes. Have plenty of insect repellent on hand. Make sure it's chemical free, so it can be used on the kids.