Posts Tagged: Entertaining


“Each of us has an enchanted vision that we carry around in the treasure house of our minds….your personal approach to your own magic.”-Tony Duquette

When the opportunity arose to host an event in Paris during Deco Off and Maison et Objet, I thought what could be better than to have a celebration of creativity surrounded by the most talented people I know? In searching for a theme for the evening, I decided to take a cue from two of the most fascinating figures in design…Elsie de Wolfe and Tony Duquette. Gay Gassman of Architectural Digest captured the magic of the evening in the lovely article below…

The table setting for Cathy Austin’s Elsie de Wolfe and Tony Duquette-themed dinner party in Paris. Photo: Kelly Marshall


Design has taken over Paris this week with the 10th anniversary of Paris Deco Off and the opening of global trade fair Maison + Objet. Besides the massive fair, this means more than 100 fabric and furniture showroom open houses, countless pop-ups and special events, and streets festooned with oversize lampshades swinging from the buildings in the City of Light. It also means every night is jam-packed with cocktails and dinners hosted by the big industry showrooms, but there are also smaller private events. One of the most intriguing invitations of the season was the beautifully designed one for “An Unforgettable Romp in Paris: An Evening Inspired by Elsie de Wolfe and Tony Duquette,” hosted last night by Charlotte, North Carolina–based interior designer Cathy Austin of Catherine M. Austin Interior Design at the Paris home of AD 100 designer Frank de Biasi and designer Gene Meyer.



Please join me one week from today to kick off the inaugural Fall Design Week  featuring Atlanta Gourmet and Gift at AmericasMart in Atlanta! I am thrilled to be moderating a panel with today’s top taste makers, designers, and stylists who will be sharing their secrets on entertaining with style.

Foodie culture and entertaining have risen to an art form. Weekend warriors are effortlessly whipping up gourmet spreads, swoon-worthy scenes and decorative tablescapes to fill our Instagram feeds. So, what’s the secret sauce? Take a cue from Bunny Williams’ playbook, who believes there’s nothing more rewarding than having friends and family gather in your home, and makes entertaining seem effortless. Top interior designers, lifestyle experts and photo stylists dish out advice you need to know to be a masterful host—from setting the right environment, designing the menu and table, and even offer styling tips to capture the moment for social media. Learn some of their favorite go-to resources and advice on everything entertaining, dining and tabletop.

Enjoy lunch and a panel discussion with New York-based interior designer Young Huh, who’s work has been featured in Vogue, Wall Street Journal, In Style and countless national interior magazines, Audrey Margarite, vice president of design and product development for Bunny Williams Home, who helps create fabrics, decorative accessories, and furniture for the company’s private and licensed collections, Annette Joseph, author of Picture Perfect Parties and entertaining expert, editor, producer, and magazine photo stylist for Architectural Digest, The Today Show, Goop and others, and designer and lifestyle expert Danielle Rollins, author of Soiree Entertaining with Style.


The inaugural Fall Design Week Featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift will offer hundreds of showrooms and lines, designer-focused programming, CEU courses, networking, parties and more:

  •  Over 500 showrooms and 2,800 lines
  • Complimentary valet parking open 8am to 8pm
  • Over a dozen tastemaker CEU-accredited seminars
  • Cooking demonstrations from Atlanta’s top restaurants
  • Shop for your stores and clients in a relaxed setting
  • Showroom specials and events all week
For more design inspiration, be sure to follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter!


Recently I wrote about my first job in Charlotte at Circa Interiors & Antiques. While I was finishing my design degree, I was thrilled to land an internship working for Cindy Smith and Jane Schwab.  I will be forever indebted to these two ladies for taking me under their wing and teaching me the ins and outs of the Charlotte design community. In addition to being incredibly talented, these ladies are the perfect embodiment of the art of living graciously.

Jane Schwab is the quintessential hostess. She not only makes everything look effortless, but she also makes every event unique and fun beyond imagination whether it is a poolside seated dinner or a lively Easter Egg Hunt.  I learned so many helpful entertaining tips from Jane…from creating beautiful tablescapes and arranging flowers to enjoying the details that enhance the event and making everyone feel welcome. I was delighted to interview her about her secrets to gracious living.  Her interiors are an extension of how she lives her everyday life…They are welcoming, attainable, beautiful and incredibly charming.


When did you know you wanted to pursue design as a career and how did you get started?

I would rearrange furniture constantly as a little girl growing up in Ridge Springs, SC….not just at my own house but at friends’ houses as well!

I majored in Political Science at Converse College went on to get a Fine Art degree and Interior Design minor at the University of South Carolina. I took Continuing Education courses at Parsons School of Design while working for Marshall Schul in New York.

I had always loved Charlotte when I was traveling for work and when the opportunity arose to work at Circa, I was thrilled.


What is your creative process?

Most of my creative work takes place early in the morning or on weekends. I am always reading design and architecture books looking for the spark of an idea to ignite the creative vision.



How would you describe your style?

As a combination of pretty collected pieces with comfortable and traditional furnishings updated with an element of “now” through accessories and artwork.



What is your latest creative breakthrough?

I have always been a neutralist, but lately I have been incorporating more color into my work and have loved it!


What has been the most pivotal moment in your career?

Our book The Welcoming Home has really had an impact on our business. The friendly, attainable design has attracted many new clients that desire the same lifestyle. Our book tour and lectures across the country have brought us to a new audience. It has been a delight to connect with so many lovely people city to city.




What are your current projects?

I am working on a 1920s Tudor home in Connecticut, a waterside cottage in Maine, and a house in Jackson, Wyoming by architect Jonathan Foote who also designed our Jackson residence.


How would you like to be remembered?

That the experience was a positive one, no matter what it was.


Do you have any advice for budding designers?

Love what you do, be passionate, and connect with your niche.


Whose work do you admire?

Bunny Williams…Her ability to effortlessly combine styles and period and always create interiors that look and feel different. She is also unbelievably generous with her time , friendship, talent, and support.


Who would be your dream client and why?

One that you have a trusting relationship with that gives you the freedom to create, is open to new ideas, and is willing to get out of their comfort zone.


What is your dream vacation/ idea of bliss?

Saint Barths surrounded by dear friends and family.


What do you collect?

Objects made out of natural materials that also serve a purpose….white horn bowls and antler boxes.


What is your favorite color?

Robins’ egg blue


Alfresco Dinner in Honor of Bunny Williams

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What is your favorite design trick?

Decide on a color and repeating it through the room for maximum impact.


Poolside Dinner in honor of Mary McDonald





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Courtesy of Southern Living


Courtesy of Southern Living


Courtesy of Southern Living

Be sure to check out the Circa design blog for upcoming events in Charlotte and Birmingham as well as the launch of their upcoming Catbird Collection.

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and subscribe to Bespoke Banter…Thanks for reading and please visit again!


peachy cover

With just 24 days left until Christmas, I need all the help I can get! The Holiday Issue of Peachy is now live filled with an abundance of inspiration including decorating ideas, recipes, favorite traditions, and gift guides from our talented editors. Be sure to read the issue by clicking here.



Please contact the studio if you are interested in any of our design services.

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter.…Thanks for reading!


Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Table Detail

When my friends at Set, Sip Serve invited me to share an event, I thought it was a perfect excuse to celebrate with my favorite ladies from my tennis team. Set, Sip, Serve, is a delightful entertaining site where you can find everything you need to create the perfect gathering. Founders Benton Jordan Weinstock and Annie Berlanger Wehrle have researched and brought you the best style experts, taste makers, and chefs in the home entertaining industry. Click here to read more about this wonderful resource.

It is no secret how much I love tennis and my team…It is the one activity I do completely for myself that brings me a ridiculous amount of joy. We celebrated our winning season with a round robin and lunch on the lawn.  They even indulged me by wearing tennis whites with a touch of pink for the photo shoot. Lucky for me they even chose the right shade of pink!

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Tablescape

I wanted to select a color palette that would pop against the glorious green backdrop. The hot pink ballroom chairs and the navy geometric tablecloth were the starting point for the design. Dizzy Daisy Designs helped me with a customized invitation, menu and place cards that also tied in the color scheme. Floral designer extraordinaire John Lupton worked his magic with spectacular flowers of peonies, roses, ranunculus, and orchids in a variety of pink shades. Pink hand blown glasses from Branca,Inc, bamboo flatware, pink chargers, and blue and white porcelain monkeys from Furbish added to the whimsy of the table. See below for more images from our photo shoot and recipes from our luncheon…



Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink Lemonade Sparklers

Pink Lemonade Sparklers (serves 1)

2 oz. Strawberry Infused vodka
2 oz. Simple Syrup
2 oz. fresh lemon juice or pink lemonade
Sparkling wine
Fresh mint to garnish


Chilled Avocado Soup (serves 4)

3 ripe avocados
2 cups low fat buttermilk
1/3 cup walnut halves
1/3 cup fresh dill springs
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Garnish with edible flower or diced avocado

Halve and pit 2 avocados. With a spoon, scoop out flesh and transfer to a blender. Add buttermilk, walnuts, dill, red onion, vinegar, salt and 1 cup water and puree until smooth. Cover the blender and refrigerate until the soup is well chilled, at least one hour.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Table Detail

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Dessert

Starburst Lemon Bars with Pink Sorbet (serves 8)

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup of butter softened
1 tsp grated lemon peel

4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablepoons lemon juice

NOTE: You will need about 2 lemons for the juice/peel in this recipe. If you don’t have enough lemon juice left for the glaze, use water for the right consistency.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat flour, sugar, butter and peel on low speed until crumbly. Press mixture in bottom of ungreased 13 by 9 pan. Bake 20-30 min until golden brown.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl with wire whisk, lightly beat eggs. Beat in remaining filling ingredients except lemon juice and lemon peel until well blended. Finally, beat in ¼ cup of lemon juice and peel.
3. Remove partially baked base from oven. Pour filling evenly over warm base.
4. Return to oven; bake 25-30 min. until top is golden brown. Cool completely (1 hour)
5. In small bowl, mix 1 cup powdered sugar and enough lemon juice for desired spreading consistency until smooth. Spread glaze over cooled bars. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator, but allow bars to come to room temperature before serving.


Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Ladies' Luncheon

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Ladies' Luncheon

Special thanks to these ladies for inspiring the event and to Set, Sip Serve for the feature!

Set Sip Serve Media




Table Setting by Set, Sip, Serve

There is nothing better than reconnecting with old friends and picking up right where you left off. Thirty years ago (yikes…am I really that old?), I met the delightful Benton Jordan at summer camp. Benton always made everyone feel a little less homesick with her graciousness and hospitality.  It is absolutely no surprise that she has channeled this charm into a fabulous new entertaining resource called Set, Sip Serve.

Set Sip Serve is a“go-to” at home entertaining site that showcases home entertainers, chefs,

bloggers and style experts. SetSipServe is an inspirational site with beautiful table details, recipes and entertaining secrets allowing everyday entertaining achievable for everyone.

I was lucky enough to spend time with Benton and her equally charismatic business partner, Annie Belanger Wehrle last week in Atlanta. This entertaining dynamic duo that both live in Los Angeles have pulled together the talents of all of their amazing friends such as Danielle Rollins, Stephanie Johnson, Ali Larter, Ruthie Sommers and other tastemaskers and chefs.

Table setting by Sip, Set, Serve


Annie Belanger Wehrle and Benton  Jordan Weinstock

How did you two start working together? 

Annie and I have been friends for 20 years since our single days in LA. We merged minds and talents a year ago when we realized Annie’s expertise in food and wine and my creativity in table setting could be combined to present exactly what we wanted for SetSipServe.
Table setting by Stephanie Johnson


How did you come up with the brilliant idea of Set, Sip, Serve?

After going to casual dinner party of a friend, I woke up in the middle of the night inspired to create a site where people could find ideas for entertaining at home and be able to purchase. Annie and I LOVE to entertain from mom playdates to adult dinner parties. We realized after hours and hours of scouring pinterest and blogging sites that there needed to be a “go-to” entertaining site where one can find everything they need for everyday entertaining and family gatherings big and small. Hence, we have built SetSipServe.
Table setting by Ali Larter


What is each of your backgrounds? 

Annie grew up in Quebec City, Canada and moved to Los Angeles and then New York. She worked on Wall Street in the financial industry before getting married and having 3 babies. I  grew up in Helena, Arkansas and lived in New York and Los Angeles working in the fashion and beauty industry before meeting my husband and having three girls.


What is your own personal style of entertaining?

Annie: When entertaining, I prefer to cook for my guests. My style is more French country meets neutral colors. I prefer to entertain with a more casual vibe.
Benton: When entertaining, I like to turn on the southern charm and create more formal gathering. I am all about table details and love color and accents. 

Table setting by Sugar Paper


Describe your perfect dinner party.

Annie: My perfect dinner party setting would be a casual outdoor set table with a great group of friends and most importantly, great bottles of wine.
Benton: My perfect dinner party would be a formal set dining table with lots of tall candles in sterling candelabras, loads of gorgeous flowers and a three course orchestrated meal.
Table setting by Danielle Rollins
Danielle Rollins
Danielle Rollins

What do you do for creative inspiration when planning  a party?

For creative inspiration, we tend start with the setting and theme of the night. Once determined, the color is where our creativity usually explodes. Of course, we constantly are thinking of fashion designers and interior decorators who have an impact on our tastes.  We will say this table looks like a Dorothy Draper table or an Oscar de la Renta, etc. Then we creatively explore flowers, linens and centerpieces and then go to china, glassware and flatware.  
Table Setting by Set, Sip, Serve


What tips do you have for the nervous hostess?

First, have a glass of wine.  Yes, on a serious note, plan ahead is the best advice and keep it simple if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Table Setting by Ruthie Sommers
Ruthie Sommers

Do you have a favorite entertaining trick or shortcut to make your events run more smoothly?

If you are going to be cooking, try to chose a one dish menu for the night. And if you can try to get some girl friends to come help set up the table and prepare the food earlier in the day, it always helps the night run smoother.

Thank you Benton and Annie for sharing your entertaining tips…I am ready to move to LA!