A Note on Style: Entertaining Al Fresco

I am a big believer in effortless entertaining! A gathering doesn’t have to complicated or stuffy to be thoroughly enjoyable. As such, I turned to my very stylish friend, Karima Hunter from the super chic blog, A Note on Style to share her tips on entertaining al fresco. As a resident of Newport Beach, California, she certainly has more experience in hosting a beautiful fete outdoors than I do in hot and humid Houston. This is the second installment in Karima’s series, A Note on Style here on LDV. You can check out the first post in her new series with her genius packing tips here. Enjoy! XO, Paloma

1/dress 2/pink earrings 3/blue earrings 4/dress 5/lip balm 6/sandal 7/body oil

Dining and entertaining al fresco is one of the pleasures of summer I enjoy most. One of my friends recently planned a casual evening in her backyard. With a menu of a charcuterie board, appetizers and Rosé, and the table décor established from the garden, a simple, stress-free formula for entertaining was set. I like to apply that same philosophy to what to wear as the hostess, or guest.

Comfort is always key, so I know that whatever I put on, it will be paired with flats. As the host, the practical side of me kicks in, and I gravitate towards prints. They hide any unforeseen splatters that may appear when preparing or serving. I keep jewelry fuss-free and limited to earrings. No bangles or long necklaces that might get in the way. Since I edit my look down to these three pieces, I like to choose items with color and impact.

I apply the same theory to my selection of beauty products. Simple and natural work best for spending an evening outside. I prefer to use a body oil over lotion. It adds a subtle sheen and doesn’t get sticky if the weather is humid. I also keep a sheer lip balm on hand for quickly freshening up, knowing that it can be applied mirror free.  


1/string lights 2/plates 3/napkins 4/wine glasses 5/garden stool 6/placemats 7/iron cachepot

Creating a beautiful table is my favorite part of entertaining, anytime of the year. Dining outside, I’ll keep in mind the atmosphere already created by what’s blooming.

My friend put together a charming setting in her yard utilizing the abundance of flowers and fruits from her garden. No need to complete with what mother nature so graciously supplies. Blue hydrangeas and yellow lemons set the stage. Hanging off the backs of chairs were net market bags filled with fruit, a creative and thoughtful party favor. The glow from the setting sun continued well into the night with string lights generously hung from the trees creating a magical scene and inviting guests to linger.


1/board 2/candle 3/spreader set 4/jars 5/tiered stand 6/beverage server 7/carafe 8/bowls

Rather than creating a full meal for this occasion, the focus was on hearty nibbling. A substantial charcuterie board was complemented by an assortment of breads, fresh vegetables and dips. A couple of old wood boards served as trays and made for easy transport from kitchen to table. An assortment of small bowls held mustard, salt, preserves and olives and low jars were filled with humus and tzatziki and kept everything accessible and casual. Carafes for water, and a couple bottles of wine completed the simple but satisfying menu.


In the Mood: August 2017

{The Sag Harbor Home of Mona Nerenberg and Lisa Bynon as featured in ELLE DECOR}

{Cy Twombly}

{Le Catch}

{William McLure’s Chic Birmingham Loft}

{Carolyn Carr}


{Darryl Carter via ELLE DECOR}

{Cy Twombly}

{The Chicest Pajamas via Pinterest}

{Betsy Brown}

{Franz Kline}

{Chic Bow Blouse via Pinterest}

{Hamptons Cottages & Gardens}

{Ellsworth Kelly}

{Chic Basics via Pinterest}

{William McLure}

{Richard Serra}

{S. Costumista}


{Reed and Delphine Krakoff}

{Silvia Poloto}

{Linn Haaglund}

{Mona Nerenberg and Lisa Bynon}

{Ellsworth Kelly}

{Shop Daily Chic}

Design Highlights from Paris

It’s unbelievable to think that an entire month has passed since we were in Paris. It really was one of our favorite trips ever, in spite of the daily rain and the fact that I was sick for three weeks after we got home. Last year, when we visited Paris, we stayed at The Peninsula, which was fabulous with top notch service and amazing restaurants on property. This time around, we opted to stay at the Marquis Faubourg Saint Honoré, designed by one of my favorite interior designers, Michele Bonan. The location was incredible, right off of the Faubourg Saint Honoré, on the rue d’Anjou. It is literally around the corner from Saint Laurent, Hermes, and all kinds of great shopping. We also walked to the Hotel Costes for drinks several times. The hotel itself is super chic, as one would expect, and our room was very large for Paris, well-appointed, and comfortable. The downside to a property with fifteen rooms is that they seemed a little short-staffed and they did not have an on-site restaurant or bar, just a chic room where breakfast was served.

One of our favorite dining experiences on this trip was at Loulou, a super chic restaurant designed by Joseph Dirand, another favorite designer at the Museé des Arts Décoratifs. We were seated at an intimate table in front of a window overlooking the Louvre, which was lovely, but the view inside was just as fabulous. I am in love with the mix of materials in this restaurant– gorgeous, heavily veined marble, burnt orange velvet, caning, plaster, and gilded accents– beyond! I am looking forward to seeing the Dior exhibition at the Museé des Arts Décoratifs when I return to Paris in a couple of months. They were still mounting the show when we were there and it opened a couple of days after we left.

{A Better Photo from Loulou’s Website}

Another design detail that I noticed throughout Paris, was the use of exquisite trellis work, or treillage. I dream of doing a beautiful treillage application in a future client’s house.

{Beautiful Treillage at the Ritz Paris}

{This treillage in St. Germain de Pres stopped me in my tracks on our walk back from the Musee Rodin.}

Another highlight of this trip was finally going to the Marché aux Puces, or flea market. Despite having been to Paris a few times before, we had never ventured there until this trip and we are so glad we did. It was raining pretty heavily that morning and I thought the day would end up being miserable and tried to convince Fabian to go to a museum instead. Thankfully, he insisted that we should go– I’m pretty lucky to have a husband who insists on going to a flea market to shop for antiques– so we did. We started at the Paul Bert Serpette section of the market and spent most of our time there. The level of merchandising and the pieces to be found there are truly fantastic. I was blown away that this was a flea market because it was nicer than most of the antiques shows I have been to in the US. 

In spite of the beautiful displays, there were still some good deals to be found. We bought a pair of super chic, hand-made plaster sunburst mirrors from a local artist that I plan to hang in my living room. I almost wish we had planned to spend two days at the market because I am sure there was still quite a bit that we did not see. When you go, be sure to have lunch at ma cocotte. The restaurant, in the Paul Bert Serpette part of the market features stylish design and delicious food. Again, we were blown away that we were at a flea market! 

I am thrilled that I will get to be in Paris for the second time this year come September and am even more excited that it will be an antiques buying trip with Huff Harrington. I can’t wait to learn and hopefully, come home with a few treasures.

{All Photos by Paloma Contreras Exclusively for La Dolce Vita}


Fabulous Room 07.28.17

Sometimes, I feel like my design sensibility is a true dichotomy. I absolutely adore traditional design elements– give me a beautiful, hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpaper, vibrant ikat fabrics, and a gorgeous, gilded Chippendale mirror any day of the week and I will be happy. However, I also find that I am incredibly drawn to modern spaces filled with fantastic textures, warm wood hues, and a relaxed sensibility. My own style is sort of a mix of both sides, but I have an ardent appreciation and thankfully, a pretty solid understanding of both points of view which allows me to be versatile in the spaces I design for clients.

This week, after being in the Hamptons, I am feeling really drawn to the warm, modern look I described before. When I came across this beautiful Manhattan loft by the ultra-talented Neal Beckstedt on the Architectural Digest website the other day, I was immediately drawn in by the chic mix of furnishings, crisp palette, and airy sensibility of the space. The living room was designed to maximize seating for a client who enjoys entertaining at home. The leather and linen sofas are custom while the midcentury bench is by Poul Kjaerholm. One of the most interesting features of the space is the custom-designed floating staircase along with the feature wall behind it which is covered in cypress panels, which add a rich dose of texture to the space. This apartment is what I like to call a palate cleanser. When you feel overloaded by visual and sensory stimulation, it’s so nice to come across a beautiful, chic space that speaks volumes without screaming at you with tons of pattern and color. Every now and then, it’s nice to have a clean slate.

{Photography by Eric Piasecki for Architectural Digest}