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tumblr_mckq55oJnq1rrqsx6o1_500When we get a week of sun in Seattle,  I start thinking about outdoor entertaining. I inevitably find myself looking through catalogs at the newest outdoor furniture and accessories. I start to dream about how great it would be to have an outdoor room like the one pictured above, that spills out onto a large exterior dining area. We have a really great pergola that was here when we purchased our house. There is an enormous wisteria that has overtaken it and it is now slightly off center. I know the day will come when we have to re-do it, so I start to dream about how we would renovate our exterior dining area. I’ve been looking through websites and various publications and thought I would share some of the great exterior products I’ve found recently.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 10.40.14 PMLike the new COSTA exterior furniture collection from Restoration Hardware. I really like its low lines and classic styling.

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The LEAGRAVE collection is also quite nice. I just love that chair. Think I would prefer a different table but the chair is what really drew my eye to this collection. I have to say one word of caution however…. I read in a review that some buyers were having issues with RH’s exterior cushions. That they were holding water and molding. I haven’t purchased either of these collections but if you could just purchase the frames I would do it.

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If your looking for a new hammock that is comfortable and a bit more unusual, the Le Beanock hammock in canvas is a great alternative to the classic hammock.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 11.03.06 PMThe Weber Summit S-670 is my favorite grill for serious entertaining at a mid-range price. I trust the Weber name and the company stands behind their products. My first BBQ was a Weber kettle that we had for at least 10 years and it served us well. I never was very good at cooking chicken on it though. Finally as we were about to wheel it out and roll in the gas grill someone mentioned to me as I was lamenting over my eternally burned BBQ chicken that you had to microwave or bake it a bit first to get the inside cooked as the skin will burn long before the inside is cooked. Ah well. So if you have a kettle BBQ, now you know the secret.

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If you prefer to cook over a fire; there’s Grillworks’ crank-controlled wood grilling system, with prices ranging from $2,850 for the original Grillery to $8,975 for the Grillworks Dual 42 CRE with two crank wheels and nine feet of total cooking area. This is pro-level barbecuing. This is the unit you need if you are a true grilling enthusiast who knows their way around their BBQ woods.

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For portable grills, I’ve been admiring the Lodge cast iron grill. Its sturdy, and yet light enough to be portable. It has an adjustable height grill and a draft door to regulate heat.

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While we are on the subject of heat…. nothing to me says summer more than sitting around the fire at night. It could be something as well designed as this San Francisco backyard which was transformed by Arterra Landscape Architects. It could also be something much simpler. One of the best fire pit moments I remember was when my husband and I attended what is called “Opening day” in Seattle. It is when many boat owners take the tarps off, polish the rails and form a parade of boats that go from Eastlake, through the Montlake canal and into Lake Washington. It is a welcoming of the boating season. On this particular day we were at a client’s home that was directly on the Montlake canal and she was having a party that spilled out of her beautiful home (its still one my favorites) out to her back lawn. She decided that she needed a fire pit so at 3pm, as she was setting up the party, she grabbed a shovel and carefully dug a hole in the turf. She set the circular turf piece aside to be filled back in later. She then circled it with rocks from the canal and then spread all kinds of beautiful ethnic rugs and pillows around it. It was gorgeous, and everyone gathered there as the sun went down.

Leaf lights

We’ve all seen the ubiquitous string lights for outdoor entertaining but wouldn’t these be really elegant around the perimeter of your dining area. While probably not durable enough to be left up all of the time they are quite unusual. Made of skeleton Bodhi Leaves, each set includes 20 white bulbs on an 8’ long white cord with 5 skeleton leaves around each light. Each leaf is 4.5” long and 2.25” wide. Lights last over 50,000 hours. You can find this item here, as well as the traditional string lights if you want to have some lights up all year long.


Another exterior lighting idea is to hang these grapevine balls in a tree. I have a small ornamental plum tree that stands as an accent tree at the entrance to our home and I have hung these orbs from the branches and they are a really great welcome to any event. You can find them here, or you could make them yourself if you happen to be handy and have grapevines that you need to prune.


Moroccan tea glasses are definitely one of my favorite summer entertaining items. I especially like these from Calypso St. Barth, beautifully etched with elegant designs and trimmed in metallic silver. But to make them complete you need a great summer cocktail in them like the one I found the other day on Quitokeeto.



Make a simple thyme syrup by bringing 2 cups water, 1 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons fresh thyme to a simmer in a small saucepan. Let simmer for a few minutes then remove from heat and let infuse for another ten minutes. Strain into a jar.

For each drink combine 2 tablespoons of gin, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons thyme syrup in a small glass. Stir well, add 4-5 ice cubes & top off with about 3 tablespoons tonic or soda water.

Enough writing about entertaining….. its time for me to put my guest list together and set a date while the sun is shining.

Images courtesy of http://tournesol50.tumblr.com/post/34450908703, http://www.restorationhardware.com, http://www.remodelista.com, http://www.gardenista.com, http://www.lodgemfg.com,  Michele Lee Willson Photography, http://www.save-on-crafts.com, http://www.calypsostbarth.com, http://www.quitokeeto.com

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