Posts Tagged: Ruthie Sommers

CREATIVE MINDS: SET, SIP, SERVE

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!

 

IN FULL BLOOM

Cherry blossoms have been a source of inspiration for artists and designers for centuries. The most famous cherry blossoms in our country celebrate their 100th birthday next week.

The Washington Post

Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave the United States 3,000 cherry trees to honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan.

Flicker

On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.

The United States Government reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan in 1915. A group of American school children reenacted the initial planting and other activities, holding the first “festival” in 1927. 

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees in 1965. In 1981, Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from the trees in DC to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood. This year, the United States plans to send another 3,000 seedlings to commemorate the anniversary.

I have always wanted to have a mural of cherry blossoms somewhere in my house. When we moved into our house three years ago, I finally had the blank canvas I needed.  I looked at various scenic wallpapers trying to find the perfect depiction of cherry blossoms that I had envisioned. I love the negative space seen in Japanese block prints of cherry blossoms and wanted the same look.  

 Canadian House and Home

While I adore all of the scenic wallpapers shown in these images, they were too decorative for the look I wanted.

Interior Design by Ruthie Sommers
Elle Decor

 

Interior Design by Miles Redd

This vignette above from Miles Redd was getting closer to what I had in mind.

 

Fromenthal Wallpaaper

 The modern take from Fromethal on the scenic wallpaper is outstanding. 

The Stanton Social, New York City

At last I found what I wanted. In an old copy of Domino Magazine, I discovered a small image of this mural from the Stanton Social restaurant In New York. There was plenty of negative space and it even had the “dirty pink” color that I have used throughout my house.

 

I showed some images to the incredibly talented artist Terry Reitzel and he created this…..

Finally, my mural is complete! Each wall is its own canvas that measures 10′ high by 15′ long.  Terry stretched each canvas out in his studio to be painted.  Once the paint was dry, it was taken off of the stretcher and rolled up before installation.

The walls were sized and then lining paper was applied to protect the mural. Then, the installers size the mural and hung it loosely in place overnight.  The canvas had to shrink with the sizing on the back before it could be smoothed onto the wall. It took an entire week to get everything in place.

Once the mural was installed, Terry came back to finish up the corners, painting branches, blossoms and buds to wrap around the room. The ceiling was painted dirty pink to highlight the blossoms…which are actually plum blossoms, not cherry blossoms. They are more vibrant and bloom before the cherry trees.

I designed these pagoda-shaped upholstered pelmets and drapes to tie in with the chinoiserie theme.  I have been waiting three long years for this to be completed and it surpassed every expectation I had thanks to the brilliant Mr. Reitzel!

“A ROOM WITHOUT RED…

is like a lady without lipstick,” said the inimitable Diana Vreeland. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am sharing my favorite red rooms by legendary designers, artists and trendsetters…

Photo by Horst P. Horst
Interior Design by Billy Baldwin

Ms. Vreeland is worthy of a blog solely dedicated to her larger than life personality and style.  She worked as the fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar from 1937-1962. She left to become editor in chief at Vogue for the next decade. She gave all of her models, editors, photographers and stylists total creative freedom.  After leaving Vogue, she worked at the Metroplitan Museum of Art as a special consultant to the Costume Institute. She organized several blockbuster shows including the Ballet Russes, the World of Balenciaga and Romantic and Glamourous Hollywood Design. When she lost her vision in the 1980s, she said it was because she had looked at so many beautiful things.

Ms. Vreeland used her surroundings to reflect her dynamic personality and was always drawn to red.  She worked in a lacquered red office, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day followed by a shot of scotch. She only liked red flowers, used red ink for her notes, and preferred to be dressed in red from head to toe. She asked Billy Baldwin to design a room for her that looked like a garden, but a “Garden in Hell” which is illustrated in the image above.

The Red Room at the White House
Interior Design by Stephane Boudin of Maison Jansen
The Kennedy Archives

The Red Room at the White House was the favorite stateroom of Jackie Kennedy. The color red has always been associated with power, excitement and celebration. It grabs your attention and gets people to take action. It is the Chinese color of luck and prospertity and the offical marriage color in India.

Interior Design by David Hicks

Using red in an interior space can be tricky.  Red makes a statement and is typically used in rooms for entertaining or in small rooms to make an impact.  In the examples shown here, most of the designers (except for David Hicks and Billy Baldwin) have offset the use of red by adding, white, black, cream and blue to create a graphic punch.

Interior Design by Mark Hampton

Mark Hampton worked for Billy Baldwin before venturing out on his own.  His daughter Alexa says her father used their apartment as a design laboratory to try out new ideas such as the red lacquered walls with the white contemporary sculpture above the fireplace.

Mrs. Astor’s Library
Interior Design by Albert Hadley
Interior Design by Miles Redd
Influenced by Mrs. Astor’s Library
Photography by Francisco Lagrisse

The library of Brooke Astor by Albery Hadley has always been a personal favorite.  Mr. Hadley’s use of brass inlay to define the bookcases and add detail to the walls was pure brilliance.  I love how Miles Redd reinterpreted this idea for a modern day library seen above.

Interior Design by Mary McDonald
Photo Courtesy of the Kips Bay Showhouse

For the Kips’ Bay Showhouse, Mary McDonald took a narrow, obscure hallway and added her glamourous touch with a red backdrop, ebony accents and wonderful contemporary art.

Interior Design by Ruthie Sommers

Town and Country

Ruthie Sommers created this cozy interior for cocktails, reading and entertaining.  Imagine how it looks by candlelight!

Interior Design by Miles Redd
Elle Decor

Miles works his magic once again with the charming window treatments playing off the red walls.  The room is sophisticated, yet playful at the same time.

Interior Design by Mary McDonald
House Beautiful
Interior Design by Mary McDonald
House Beautiful

Both of the images above illustrate how Mary McDonald used red as a backdrop and then punctuated the spaces with black accents. If committing to red walls sounds overwhelming, consider using red in small doses which still has a big impact.  A red door, pair of red pillows or lamps, or even painting the back of your bookcases red can add a livley finishing touch to any room….just take Dianne’s advice!