PRIVATE NEWPORT'S SPRING STRATEGY LUNCHEON INTERVIEW
Tastemaker: Bettie Pardee
India Amory Linens used: Bluebell Placemats & Napkins
We've heard you know a thing or two about entertaining. After all, you've published two books that center around Entertaining and the Newport lifestyle. Do you have a favorite time of year you especially enjoy entertaining at your home in Newport, Rhode Island?
Bettie Pardee: My husband, Jonathan, and I are a bit unusual in that we love living here year 'round. So I could truly relate to the theme I chose for my second coffee table book... Living Newport: Houses, People, Style across the four seasons.
I'm always finding occasions to entertain off-season...I'm a Southerner, it's in my DNA... when it's quieter and there aren't so many events competing with each other. But given the weather (although the seasons are starting to mimic each other) summer is the most logical time. And each year (back to question #6) I look for different themes to inspire me... a friend's book signing, a new garden visitor, hosting a trunk show.
The placemats you've incorporated into your tablescape are named "Bluebell", a species frequently used as garden plants. As an expert garden connoisseur and national lecturer on the subject of horticulture, what is your favorite garden species?
Bettie Pardee: Ouch! This is always a tricky question, so I'm going to specify by season so I can mention more than one. In the spring, tulips make the top of my list, in summer peonies steal my heart and I always look forward to fall for the gracefully tall Japanese anemone.
Tell us a bit about how you've incorporated your placemats & napkins into your working lunch...and what is it that you're working on?
Bettie Pardee: Who doesn't love crisp blue and white, especially in wonderful Indian cotton, of which I'm a big collector? I paired this striking placemat set with fresh potted yellow daffodils, which had just started blooming as I was prepping for the lunch.
Putting the napkins in the glasses not only adds a decorative touch but also opens more space on the table. This is after all, a working lunch, reviewing drawings and plans for the Parterre Bench spring/summer campaign. It's an occasion like this that lets me reflect on what an honor it is to be carrying on the 360 year tradition of furniture makers and craftsmen in historic Newport.
You've been voted as one of America's Best Party Hosts, three years in a row, by The Salonniere 100. What are the winning ingredients for a memorable fête, small or large?
Bettie Pardee: My philosophy about entertaining is that for a few halcyon hours you provide guests the opportunity to step outside their everyday world, put their cares aside, be tended to and then depart with a memory, a "souvenir of life." What could be more fulfilling?
This is made possible by planning ahead, working with a checklist and being realistic about how much you can take on at that point in time.
The winning ingredients? An eclectic (and hopefully provocative) guest list; flattering lighting; reliably yummy food (to include one-bite hors d'oeuvres); a selection of good wines and champagne; valet parking; and... dress
up. It adds to the festive spirit!
We've seen your Parterre Bench grace your Instagram feed and notable garden settings. Where will we see the Parterre Bench this summer? How do we follow along?
Bettie Pardee: Oh, the Parterre bench is definitely getting out and about this summer! Plans are still in the formative stage but between the blog (Private Newport), Instagram posts (@privatenewport) and the #Parterre Bench, everyone will be able to keep up with her "social calendar."
We adore Newport, Rhode Island and the summertime fairytale it is. What are you most looking forward to this summer in Newport?
Bettie Pardee: The overall point that really has me anticipating summer '18 is that it will be very different from last summer. I like shaking things up, breaking with traditions, re-arranging schedules, designing guest lists to include new people.
In Newport there are so many different friends and friends of friends coming and going that there's a freshness to each year.
You make the job of a hostess look effortless! Has anything ever backfired "behind the scenes"?
Bettie Pardee: I'm trying to keep a sense of humor here...something always backfires, from the tiniest detail to a "major oops" as I try to gracefully put it (i.e. the florist for a summer tea party didn't show up until 20 minutes before the party started. Luckily, one of the servers loves to style so pitched in to help me). My advice? Stay flexible and find some levity in the situation.