Two interior designers have mastered the art of outdoor entertaining.
Pooling Her Resources
Interior designer Pauline Boardman divides her time between a house in Palm Beach, Florida, and a residence in Manhattan, which she shares with her fiancé, real estate tycoon William Pitt. When she's in Palm Beach, she takes advantage of the sunny days and eats by the pool as often as possible. For a lunch we had recently she set the table with a garden motif, in keeping with the lush surroundings. I wasn't that surprised when she told me that she had restored the wrought-iron table (purchased at Norcross Patio in West Palm Beach) herself or that she had found the glasses at Pier 1 Imports. It's hard to give designers house presents (like bringing coals to Newcastle), but one friend succeeded with the squash centerpiece from Tiffany. Theater producer Terry Allen Kramer gave Pauline the custom-made Italian lunch plates, each designed with a different leaf pattern.
My husband, Dan, and I have an apartment in West Palm Beach, and we spend many weekends there decompressing with our 7-year-old daughter. We love to entertain, but our tiny terrace can accommodate only one table and a few chairs. So I rely on my friends, such as Pauline Boardman and Ronald Grimaldi, both decorators, in order to get my fill of great outdoor parties.
Pauline's entertaining style is completely consistent with her design style: She believes in comfort and quiet elegance. Ronnie believes in all things practical. Both of them have stressed to me that entertaining outside can be either a lot of fun or, if you forget a few basic things, a nightmare. If it's daytime, remember to provide plenty of shade: Set up under trees, awnings or umbrellas--whatever is at hand. Warm weather is great, but no one likes to broil. Supply sunglasses and floppy straw hats for your less-organized pals, as well as a few shawls for when temperatures dip at night.
The Green Party
When Ronald Grimaldi, president of the design firm Rose Cumming, invited me to lunch at his Palm Beach casa recently, I arrived a bit early and caught him putting the final touches on the table. After he handed me a rum punch, we got into which plates to use. I gave the nod to a set of brown lacquer numbers that, within two seconds, he decorated with clippings from his philodendrons. His hawk eye recognized a perfect match in the banana-leaf-pattern tablecloth, a Rose Cumming fabric originally created in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from a stencil of native plant leaves. Although Grimaldi prefers alfresco dining, when the rain rolls in, he brings the party into a room he calls the loggia, which shows his penchant for bold colors. He painted the wicker furniture a fire-engine red and put dark green paper shades on the lamps. I have spent many an evening in this room and can personally attest to the fact that its sexy aura always results in lots of raucous fun!