Tastemaker: Asia Baker Stokes
India Amory Linens used: New Jungle Leaf Tablecloth
Tell us a bit about how you styled your table using the Jungle Leaf Tablecloth. I used the Jungle Leaf table cloth as a base for my table. It’s a really subtle print in color and line and I love the large scale of it, especially for outside. The green, blue and white color scheme set the tone and I built my setting from it. I think it’s always fun to add a little extra personality to the table- a bowl of candy, paper crowns or party poppers depending on the occasion. TOPS of Malibu always has pretty party favors and I used their confetti poppers in this setting.
What are some key elements you typically consider when creating an atmosphere around a dining table? I want my guests to feel comfortable at the table, nothing is too precious (cue the washable, easy, and pretty India Amory fabrics). If wine is spilled or a glass breaks, which often happens, it’s nothing to stress over. When I registered for my wedding I remember the woman at the shop telling me to avoid choosing anything I wouldn’t want to replace if broken. I think it’s a practical point and for someone who loves to entertain I like to keep a revolving arsenal of plates and glassware that I can mix and match to make each table setting unique. I use my wedding china often but I also love a great buy from Pearl River (seen on the table) or even a vintage market. I always like something natural on my table, flowers or plants and change it up depending on the time of year and the occasion. Oftentimes I’ll use ferns from around the house or store bought flowers that I’ll arrange myself. The peonies on my table are from my garden,we had a very prolific bloom this summer so that was fun.
Where do you typically entertain at your home? Do you prefer indoors or outdoors? We like to entertain outdoors as much as possible. Even if the temperatures prohibit us in winter, we often manage to get a group outside after dinner to enjoy wine by a fire pit that we put in place of the coffee table on our patio during the colder months.
When Vogue covered your wedding at your family’s Oyster Bay home, you mentioned that as an interior designer, lighting was naturally important to you. How do you think about lighting when entertaining in general? Lighting for me is equally as important as the table setting. It can make or break your experience. You can have a beautifully set table but if your overhead lights are on you are totally killing the mood! It’s important to consider the light both at the time the guests arrive and at the time of the event. If it’s a dinner party in the summer, your light will change dramatically from the start of cocktails to the end of dinner. A mix of tea lights and hurricanes or candle sticks is always pretty. Light the candles before dinner is served and you’ve created a beautiful and glowing atmosphere where everyone can see each other and what they are having for dinner.
With your design firm, A. A. Baker Design, your portfolio ranges from from city to country. Which do you prefer? I really love them both but hard pressed I’m definitely a country girl at heart. And the beach, of course. I guess it goes back to my love of nature and the ability to have outdoor entertaining spaces that are little less frequent in the city.
Botanical or Geometric? A mix of both. I’m always a sucker for a botanical print but geometry has it’s own appeal. And your prints are hand blocked so even with the geometerics there is a natural hand to them.
Quick! You’re hopping on a plane to share a special luncheon with a dear friend. Where might you teleport to? As winter approaches I would probably choose a warmer locale. Maybe Lake Garda, Italy. My husband and I stayed at Villa Feltrinelli last summer for a few days before a friend’s wedding. It’s beautiful.
How has the concept of entertaining changed, if at all, since having children? Having children has not really had an impact on my love of entertaining (maybe my just energy level!) but I have learned to be more organized when it comes to the details of the setting and more efficient in the kitchen.
You grew up in a very stylish household. How do you think about marrying the past with the present, especially solving for a household with your young children? My mother never ‘child proofed’ the house when we were young and instead taught us how to be curious in a gentle way. It didn’t always work in her favor but I think it’s important to live with and use your beautiful things rather than hide them away in a cupboard. I’ve followed her lead for the most part with the mindset of not having major attachments to things. It can be hard sometimes, accidents happen! Of course, I have some baby cups and bowls but in this world where plastic use is a cause for concern for our health and environment I try to refrain from using them as much as I can. Oftentimes, my children eat their meals on my old ceramic ‘Non-sense’ plates that came from my father’s house.
Biggest entertaining faux pas you’ve made? My biggest entertaining faux pas has been an over elaborate dinner. My husband and I love to cook and will often try an experimental new dish using our close friends as guinea pigs. On one occasion the recipe required a little too much time and attention ahead of dinner, meaning an absentee host in the living room. My unsolicited advice, don’t spend your cocktail hour in the kitchen frantically cooking the meal. Try to pick a menu that can be made ahead of time and kept warm until dinner is served.