After a fantastic day of shopping with readers at Kane County Flea Market in Chicago, followed by cocktails at attendee Debra Phillips' enchanting store Scentimental Gardens, Jaithan and I are back for a quick couple of days before heading down to Atlanta for a spin through Scott's with some of our more southern belles. That gives me just enough time to share preparation ideas for a casual summer buffet here at the house. Drawing on a mix of modern and traditional items of our own, together with a new collection of vintage finds from our Etsy store, I thought I'd offer up a few ideas for summer entertaining, just to get you in the mood! My inspiration came in the form of this.
It's a yellow iris from our garden, one of hundreds growing on the property. I love their old-school charm; they're like heirloom flowers with a real sense of history, the perfect centerpiece on a buffet with plenty of vintage finds.
The tablecloth is a mossy green remnant topped with a repurposed linen scarf from H&M. Now for the food, I know some people are particular about having cold salads separate from hot items, so these Danish modern teak bowls are a great option. That way, they can even have salad before (or after) the main course altogether if they choose. The dinner plates are a set of ten with a branch and leaf pattern I love, especially for outdoor entertaining. The colors, too, tie in nicely with the yellow of the iris, the brown of the teak, and the green of the grass. For the main course, perhaps an herb-crusted grilled beef tenderloin, I'd serve in this silverplate meat tree, alongside a horseradish lemon-thyme sauce in one of these old, Wedgwood cups and saucers. And to serve it all up, here's a vintage faux antler carving set with a natural texture perfect for any al fresco setting.
For the flowers, I used this vintage art pottery vase with a wide opening and pretty shape, flanked by a pair of beautiful, old English brass swirl candlesticks. They're a great height for giving light at dusk, and if it's a windy night, glass hurricanes are always a good option for placing around candlesticks. The unusual teak bowl is mid-century modern with these salad servers in a cool, sculptural shape. Finally, this modern amber glass dish would be perfect for serving a room-temperature side, like an almond wild rice salad with dried sour cherries.
Whenever I do a buffet, I like to place silverware towards the end because there's nothing worse than trying to balance a plate full of food, together with knife, spoon, and fork. So to hold this vintage Bloomingdale's silverplate service for 6, I opted for an American art pottery vase in a modern, rectangular shape. It's unexpected on a buffet and great for no-fail flower arrangements on a side table with zinnias, roses, or hydrangeas. Finally, for the persnickety palette, salt and pepper are a must. These unusual pressed glass cellars I paired with bone handle spoons; the shapes I thought complemented each other beautifully.
Summer entertaining is at its best when it's casual but at the same time polished and pulled together. Buffets allow guests to help themselves, giving you plenty more time to socialize and (gasp!) enjoy the party too. Shocking, I know, but good planning I've always thought is in the details—a mix of new and old, modern and traditional pieces, along with beautiful servingware at varied heights. Plan it out, make it interesting, and you're sure to pull it off!
Have a success story you care to share? In need of advice for an upcoming event? Tell me about it!