I thought this episode was particularly charming. Not only were the guests so fabulous (I have major crushes on Simon and Jonathan), but I loved the concept of Perfect Pairings and was very intrigued to see what Chris and Vicki had in store for me in terms of their dining room environments.
I met with Vicki first, and I have to say that Vicki charmed the heck out of me by the time our 15 minutes were up. When she first sat down, I was scared that it was going to be another “been there done that” situation, but the meeting took a turn for the better very quickly!! It turns out that Vicki had a new girlfriend and was in an exciting part of her new relationship that she wanted to bring into the ambiance of Rocco’s formal dining room. You are all well aware by now that I love to design from something that is born out of an emotional response, and when Vicki spoke about the "not wanting to get out of bed” phase of a relationship, she really let the flood gates of design open up for me.
Apart form the obvious draping of the walls in ethereal white fabric, and lush white floral arrangements, I wanted the room to reflect some of Vicki’s charm and quirkiness. The bed was a must. I built a faux “set bed” and put an impossible amount of lush pillows on it so it was the type of bed that you literally may never find your way out of!!
I wanted to add some of Vicki’s lifestyle in the room, so I made a contemporary Jonathan Adler-esque kissing booth sign and placed some fun booth-style photos of girls kissing and even some dogs too. You know my rooms are not complete without some doggies!!
Knowing that Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan were part of the guest list I wanted to bring in some elements that I thought they would appreciate. I created a cool graphic on the rug that was a stencil of "love" painted in neon colors to create the border, and I used contemporary typewriter font to create the definitions of love and romance on the wall. You probably all know by now that I love a fire element in the room, so I brought in a self-standing all white fire place and lots of gorgeous candles to keep up with the romantic and ethereal ambiance.
In my book, Party Like A Rock Star, I write a lot about using masses of one beautiful thing in your room instead of trying to cover every design element in one room all together… A room only filled with masses of candles is just as effective as a room that is filled with a huge variety of props. Buying things in bulk can be a nice relief on your wallet, but will give you a huge visual “bang for your buck” for sure!
In terms of flowers, it is easy to just say, “I want all white flowers,” but in terms of Romance, did you know that there are specific flowers that actually are known for romance? They are called Romance Flowers and many of the species included in this genre are: Peonies, Rannunculus, Phalaeonopsis Orchids, Garden Roses, Hydrangea, Sweet Pea, French Tulips, Calla Lilies, Lisianthus, Silver Lamb’s Ear, and Gardenias… I incorporated many of these breeds in Vicki’s “love pad.”
During the course of the evening, Samantha alluded to the fact that on their 10th anniversary celebration, she and Jason would “try out” the bed in Vicki’s room and make another baby! Perversely enough, this is exactly the reaction I was hoping for!
When I first met Chris, frankly I just couldn’t get the guy to smile, and I am usually pretty good at that! As we started speaking, he was really pretty adamant about going the “down home, organic wedding" route, which I actually thought was lovely, but needed some tweaking for sure.
What I liked about Chris is that he seemed very unpretentious and relaxed in terms of design, perhaps a little bit too relaxed, but that is why I am here; it's up to me to make sure that the room really has an impact on Rocco and his guests.
I did love the idea of having the main focal point of Rocco’s terrace dining area act as hundreds of hanging glass jars with LED tea lights.This is a magical effect that I have used on a very large scale for many of my outdoor and tent events. When the lighting gets darker, the installation resembles thousands of fireflies hovering above your event; now who doesn’t love that?
Chris was termed a “lunch level” chef during the dinner, and I was a little nervous at first that his décor would read that way too. I wanted to capture all of the beach, wedding, and Nantucket elements in one space, but as I was designing it was looking too “beige” to me and too monochromatic. The use of sand in designing events is lovely in theory, but it can often leave the palette of an event falling flat. I needed some more shine in the room to go along with all of the hanging lights, so I brought in a ton of galvanized shiny silver buckets to hold a magnificent variety of hybrid garden roses expressed in soft summer colors. The reason I used hybrid roses is because they often do not have a scent to them. They have been genetically altered to obtain a certain shade of color and in that process they lose their scent… I didn’t want Rocco and his guests to go into “sensory overload” at the dinner!
I brought in some more texture to the room with Chris’ centerpiece for the table. I used long boxes of wheat grass, which has certainly been done a gazillion times in the event world, but to make the piece special I added charming yellow daffodils and light blue Muscari to the mix.
I also decided to use some fun plates, and I chose old-school blue rim china that went well with Chris’ laid back design concept. To get the beach elements into the room, I wanted them to be contained in a cool way, so I brought in some cool armoires much like you would see in a fun summer house on Shelter Island or Nantucket. I collected lots of shells, starfish, sand dollars, and candles and put them all in mason jars with sand. Simon and Jonathan mentioned that they felt like they were relaxing at their summer home, and Simon was so relaxed he actually tried Chris’ meat dish: this was the first time he had eaten meat in 30 years!!!
I changed out Rocco’s existing drapes to a summery striped fabric, and did matching pillows on the chairs for the guests. Part of me secretly wished that Chris wanted to do something really out there like designing around his love for the food truck craze, but I suppose for someone not in a design field, that would not have been an obvious choice. All in all, I certainly would have been a happy camper as a guest in Chris’ or Vicki’s dining environments.
I loved how the guests really took in the entire dining experience in this episode, and enjoyed the evening from start to finish in both rooms.
Congrats to both Vicki and Chris -- It was a blast!
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Author: Party Like A Rock Star