These are designer Amanda Lindroth’s top 5 tips for successful outdoor entertaining
Formal is out... relaxed, intimate dinners are in. Here's how
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Interior designer Amanda Lindroth is best known for her focus on breezy, joyful sophistication, inspiration drawn from the stunning surroundings of her home in Nassau, Bahamas.
Growing up in Palm Beach in the 1970s, Amanda experienced Florida at its most magical. The style, the architecture, the climate – it would all imprint on her, taking root and blossoming throughout the years.
Through her 20s, Amanda worked at WWD and W magazine, as well as PR for Gucci and other luxury brands in New York, Paris and London. In her 30s, she moved to Nassau full-time and applied her design eye to her own home, then to properties associated with her husband’s development company, and eventually for friends who became clients (and, of course, clients who became friends).
Throughout her interior design work, she kept the focus on breezy sophistication and vibrant layers of texture and color – the hallmarks of inviting spaces to host family and friends.
In her first ever online interior design course for Create Academy – Design Ideas for Entertaining (opens in new tab) – she shares how to create and curate inviting interiors designed with hosting friends and family in mind. Here she shares some of her top tips.
1. Choose a cohesive color scheme
'When I’m designing any outdoor space, there should always be a cohesive friendliness to the decor. By that I mean they should have the same color scheme or the same material layered throughout that can flow from interior to exterior.
'One of my favorite materials to use for outdoor spaces is rattan which is a beautiful material that can be easily painted and updated. Most of the rattan pieces I used I have bought on eBay or found in junk shops for next to nothing, and then I gave them a cohesive coat of paint (a shade of Messel Green is my go-to color) so that they all look like one family of furniture. This creates an outdoor room that feels curated and that guests will want to spend their time in.'
2. Candlelight is key
'Make sure candles are a consistent experience of the night. No successful outdoor dinner party is going to be fabulous without it. Guests feel unbelievably beautiful and prettier when they’re in candlelight, they feel more relaxed and will become more involved in the evening as a result.
'Decorate your foyer with candlelight to set a warming, relaxed ambience and continue this candlelight through the interior route to your outdoor space.
'On the dining table I will always have one central candle in a hurricane lantern surrounded by multiple, smaller votive candles. All of the reflections of the candlelight with the glassware really does make a difference.'
3. Too many is never too many
'When you’re trying to create an atmosphere at a dinner party, my advice is to have as many people as you can possibly fit, squeezed around the table. You do not want extra room between your guests because, frankly, they’re going to have a better time if they’re bunched up tightly.
'So this makes setting the table a slightly different affair. My top tip is to use a 48in round dining table which will seat eight people around it – you’re very much touching shoulder-to-shoulder and that gets people to gossip more and conversations flow much easier as this builds a camaraderie.'
4. Formal or informal?
'I’ve always had a little bit of a prejudice against the notion of “fine dining” – it implies a seriousness to an event that immediately puts guests on edge, with a vast dining table and chairs that set people far apart from each other. There’s actually nothing worse than sitting at a table like that in a noisy room where you have to pick your chair up to actually talk to the person next to you.
'So I have always preferred a more relaxed, convivial dinner table. And to create that I don’t use stiff white napkins and tall wine glasses – instead I will introduce colors, textures and elements of fun and charm that become talking points for guests. For me, that’s using colorful batique print textiles – all different in pattern but all friends in terms of scale and color and which can be layered together for different effects.'
5. Introduce tableware with character
'I tend to always use antique or second hand crockery for dinner parties. I love china and I always buy it in tag sales or eBay – the best deals are on those sites – and these don’t all necessarily have to match but can be unified by a color that gives cohesion.
'I also don’t really believe in tall stemware for a dining table – I find it antiquated and fancy. I will always opt for short stem wine glasses or simple tumblers and will mix in a range of colors, styles and sometimes even plastic ones to bring an element of fun.
'Rattan is one of my favorite materials to use and forms a central part to my own collection at Amanda Lindroth (opens in new tab). As a material it immediately shouts "tropical" when you layer it into interiors and brings in that breezy holiday vibe that encourages relaxation. So when I’m entertaining outdoors I will always make this a central part of the table decor be that though glassware sleeves, lanterns or serving baskets.
'I’ll also opt for bamboo handle flatware too instead of traditional cutlery as again this gives a relaxed island vibe that will put guests in a more relaxed mood.'
Follow Amanda: @lindrothdesign (opens in new tab)
Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.
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