Summer Entertaining – Setting the Scene

Decorating & Design Tips for a Barbecue or Summer Cocktail Party

About Interior Designer Carrie Hansen

carrie hansenMy name is Carrie Anna Hansen and my passion for design began at an early age. As a young girl I loved playing with my dollhouse. I used scraps of wood, carpet, and fabric to redecorate the tiny home. I also lovingly transformed a backyard chicken coop into a playhouse for myself and my younger brother.

I received a degree in Interior Design in 1995 and have been passionately creating beautiful spaces ever since. I served as a lead designer during the 2007 Parade of Homes here in Colorado Springs. My passion is simple: to create beautiful and functional environments where people can be inspired!

I am a Colorado native, wife, mother of three energetic kiddos, and lover of coffee and all things beautiful!

Join me on Design Talk Radio for more interior design and lifestyle inspiration! You can also join the growing community on Twitter and Facebook.

Decorating Tips to Create a Stylish Summer Cocktail Party

When thinking of entertaining this summer, look no further than Mother Nature for inspiration. Turn an ordinary pool party into sensational summer fun with nature inspired elements and an unexpected vibrant color palette. Here’s how:

1. Use Vibrant Colors to Set the Scene

(photo via

  • Use fuschia and and olive green as starting points for your decorating scheme.
  • Purchase a few yards of fushcia fabric from your local arts/crafts or fabric store and lay it down as the foundation for your table.
  • Accentuate the table with olive green by using large leaves, glassware, napkins, etc.
  • For continuity, apply the vibrant color scheme to table settings, centerpieces, and decorative accents.

2. Bring Texture and Warmth to the Table with Organic Elements

(12” woven wood salad bowl from

Why not use beautiful wood plates or bowls instead of traditional china pieces? The earthy brown color and texture of these pieces add instant warmth to this otherwise vibrant palette. Don’t be afraid to use wood serving trays and bowls also when displaying food. Another option would be to use wood or woven chargers under dishes.

(Triangular Acacia Wood Serving Bowls from

  • Add large bromeliad blooms to your centerpiece in beautiful fushia and orange. The flowers are the stars in this beautiful tablescape and add needed height to your table.
  • Mix in some bamboo sticks for added texture and warmth or perhaps scatter some beautiful river rocks or seashells.

3. Add Candlelight to Soften Things Up

Forgo the traditional tiki torches and add traditional candles instead.

  • Use clear glass containers to help reflect the light and add some needed shine to this earthy tablescape. This provides an opportunity to add additional organic elements inside the containers such as stones or sand and seashells.
  • To keep away pesky bugs and mosquitos, opt for citronella candles.

Decorating Tips to Create a Western Style Outdoor BBQ

Summer barbeque season is upon us and you may be looking for a unique and festive approach to decorating for your barbeque. Incorporating a western style to your BBQ is easy and inexpensive. So go ahead, get creative and put together a fun spread for your friends and family worthy of the great western outdoors.

1. Saddle Up your (Saw) Horse

Instead of a traditional food table, set up two sawhorses and place an old wooden door on top. Instant Western Style!

2. Think Outside the BBQ Box for Centerpieces

  • Use unique fabrics and materials for decorations. Bandanas are a perfect option for napkins.
  • Choose a single hue or mix it up for a more unique look.
  • Use a tall plastic cup inside a cowboy boot, arrange some fresh daisies and add water to the cup.
  • Another fun option would be to use metal watering cans, buckets, or canning jars.
  • Add unique elements to your arrangement such as gloves, rope, etc. Think easy and casual.

Note the use of a lantern, bandanas, and tin cups and plates.

3. Have Fun with Drinks

Use canning jars tied with raffia for drinking glasses. Or serve up old fashioned root beer (or the real thing) in an-ice filled wheel barrow.

4. Light Things Up

A fun option for lighting is to use tea lights in muffin pans or old lanterns (this doubles as a centerpiece also).

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