backyard

backyard summer soiree

summer entertaining I don’t know why it took me so long this year to get into summer mode but after getting back from Michigan, our first real family vacation in what feels like an eternity, I am vowing to slow things down again and take full advantage of the rest of the long, warm summer days.

You may remember, last month I went to new york to celebrate Zac Posen’s latest collaboration with Ecco Domani. He designed a limited edition label for their Pinot Grigio and the bottle is beautiful… mixed metallics, blush, green with black and white dots. Take a glimpse into my home or studio and you will notice it is basically my ideal palette. So when I invited some friends over for an intimate backyard summer soiree with Ecco Domani, I didn’t have to look far for tablescape inspiration. Hopefully I did Mr. Posen proud.

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Simple Spring Entertaining

tropical inspired table tropical inspired tableWe are still not quite finished with the pergola, it needs paint and wire run between the beams so the bougainvillea can grow over the top, BUT it hasn’t stopped us from already having a few gatherings with the new set up. People often think you need to have a ton of different sets of dishware for frequent entertaining or that you need an entire prop closet to set a beautiful table. Of course it helps, but for those of you that don’t have access to Martha Stewart’s prop room, I’m sharing a few tips to create a simple al fresco table inspired by Target‘s spring line.

tropical inspired tabletropical inspired tabletropical inspired table1. Use what you have. I have two sets of dishware, one white and one black and I don’t think you need much more than that. If you are trying to start your own personal entertaining prop closet, I would say get a full 12 piece set of white before getting anything else. It lays a clean foundation and it’s easy to completely switch up the look with less expensive items. For flatware…  I have one full set of modern gold, and a similar in stainless, but a while back I found this vintage 100 piece brass set and it happened to be a perfect match for Target’s “Summer Safari” collection, reinforcing the tropical vibe I’ve got going. When it comes to linens, no matter how casual the party, I still like to use cloth napkins if I can. Of course with my collection, I don’t have a shortage on those, but if you are just just getting started, I’d recommend choosing a simple pattern, like the black and white dot, that can go with almost anything but brings visual interest to the table. And finally, glassware, I use stemless wine glasses for everything. For water, wine, juice, cocktails, for everyday and for every gathering. I have like 30 of the same simple shape.

2. Skip the florals. Instead of a floral centerpiece I used these oversized vases to create a no fuss sculptural focal point.

tropical inspired tabletropical inspired tabletropical inspired table3. Nature’s placemats. No placemats? No problem. To add just one more layer to the table I picked up some Monstera leaves for an inexpensive and disposable charger/placemat. It takes only about 2 seconds to throw these down first, but the visual impact is huge. Ferns would also work if you live in a woodsy area, you could just snip, snip, snip!

tropical inspired tableand finally #4. Bring the inside out! That is usually the other way around but creating an outdoor room is easy. Bring out your favorite pillows (I am obsessed with these macramé-esque ones), a cozy throw, and hang a mirror (art or a wall hanging could work too). This instantly creates a personalized outdoor space that makes dining al fresco even more special.

I’m so looking forward to many more dinner’s under the bougainvillea this summer. x

From Target: Large Vase // Small Vase // Wicker Mirror // Throw // Pillows // Stemless Wine Glasses

Napkins by Sarah Sherman Samuel // Flatware is vintage // Table from Modshop // Rattan Chairs are Vintage from ModernHaus

Photos by Sarah Sherman Samuel

This post is brought to you by TargetStyleShop the new Home collection in stores and online.

backyard progress: modern pergola

backyard // sarah sherman samuelIt has already started to heat up around these parts and I am looking forward to using more and more of our backyard again. We built the benches two years ago creating an outdoor living room/lounge area that we love. The benches are still looking great however the grass to the left of the lounge area did not survive long after this photo was taken. So I started thinking about how we could claim that part of our yard, which turned into a muddy mess, back again.

backyard baby shower // sarah sherman samuelYou may remember this baby shower I threw literally days after the new sod was put in and the grass glorious and the bougainvillea served as a perfect backdrop for the dining table. That space was always meant to be out outdoor “dining room” but the grass never took because, shaded by the bougainvillea, the corner never gets any sun and we were left with a squishy muddy mess.

 

modern pergola in progressYou can start to see the the mud taking over here.

modern-pergola-sketch // sarah sherman samuelSo, I made a plan. Mostly in my head but I threw together a quick sketch so Rupert was on board and off we went. I wanted to create a modern pergola that would not only be framed out by the bougainvillea but also with patio lights for extra ambience during those long summer evening dinners. I kept the structure simple using only 4×4’s (make sure they are treated because they will be going into the ground) and cut the cross beams flush to the support beams to keep it modern. We dug down about a foot and a half and anchored each post with cement before adding the cross beams with 6 inch bolts.

modern pergola in progressHere is a snap of our work in progress and speaking of snaps… I have been snapchatting lately (I still still slightly like a granny with new technology when I use it but I’m @sarahssamuel where you can see more behind the scenes (and lots of Archer) on the daily). We bought 2′ x 2′ paver stones for the base which we plan to fill the spaces with river rock.

outdoor dining room // sarah sherman samuelNext we covered the entire ground area with plastic, so no stray grass starts growing between our new pavers (no one likes that), and then covered that with sand making sure all is level and good before placing the pavers. That’s as far as we’ve gotten but hopefully we can finish before the weekend as we have a double header birthday party!

follow along for more progress on instagram (I’m @sarahshermansamuel) and snapchat (I’m @sarahssamuel)

Pavers and 4x4s from HD Supply

backyard baby shower

backyard-babyshowerbackyard-babyshower2Remember that baby shower I gave you a glimpse of a few weeks back? Today I’m sharing the rest of the sweet soirée. My friend Lauren Bradshaw of Walnut Animal Society (the cutest stuffed animals you ever did see) is expecting her 2nd baby boy very soon, so I teamed up with Audrey Woollen and Melody Hansen to throw her a celebratory shower in my backyard.

backyard-babyshower3backyard-babyshower4backyard-babyshower5Melody made the strawberry shortcake for dessert after we all dined on delicious grilled chicken and carnitas tacos homemade by fellow friend Bea Schlatter.

backyard-babyshower6backyard-babyshower8My backyard was transformed when I brought out the dining table from our previous house (currently stored in the garage) and rented those gorgeous bentwood chairs from Yeah Rentals. I found those white vintage fiberglass chairs that sit at each end of the table at the Long Beach Flea Market which make great captain’s chairs.

backyard-babyshower7backyard baby shower // smitten studiobackyard baby shower // smitten studioI made a few changes in the lounge area, just for the party, by switching out my cushions for some rentals and adding the pattern backdrop. I also swapped out the fireplace for a wicker peacock chair to give Lauren a proper throne that the expectant momma clearly deserves. :) It was our first time getting to entertain in the new patio space and I couldn’t love it any more.

backyard baby shower // smitten studiobackyard baby shower // smitten studioI hope you enjoyed seeing this fun fête, and my backyard, in a whole new light. To get all the details and see a ton more photos head over to 100 layer cakelet where it is being featured today!

Photography: Meghan Kay Sadler // Event design and planning: Audrey Woollen from Urbanic Paper, Sarah Sherman Samuel from Smitten StudioMelody Hansen // Food: Beatrice Schlatter // Stationery: Smitten Studio // Linens: A Sunny Afternoon // Florals: Audrey // Rentals: Yeah Rentals

from the weekend: backyard dinner party

peonies // sarah sherman samuelWe flew back from England Saturday, arriving home in LA in the evening just in time to climb our jet lagged arses into bed and then wake up the next day to throw together a dinner party! (as a totally sane person does ;). I had already agreed to host the LA dinner party, with Anna Watson Carl for her cookbook road trip/tour, before our unexpected trip to the UK and there was no way I was going to give up a chance to have her to come and cook at my house. So, Sunday morning I went to the Santa Monica farmers market and found these gorgeous peonies, set up a table in the backyard, and welcomed some friends over for what turned into a really lovely evening.

Anna has been traveling the country since June 1st stopping in various cities and co-hosting dinners like this one to promote her cookbook project. She has collaborated with some hugely talented folks to create a beautiful cookbook and has a kickstarter going to raise money to self-publish!  To read more about the project check out her kickstarter!

Shop the look: Skirt by Topshop // Blouse by J.crew (find similar here)

Image by me via instagram/iphone (i’m @sarahshermansamuel)

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