Ashley Graham knows her style: The model has graced magazine covers and fashion campaigns the world over, and her Instagram feed showcases her trend-setting wardrobe—interspersed with shots of Graham sharing her unfiltered, sometimes-glamorous-and-sometimes-not life—to the delight of her more than 18 million followers.
Graham may be known for her fashion style, but she's pretty decisive about the style in her home, too, particularly when it comes to setting up her entertaining spaces. "I definitely like the look of [my space] to be chic and yet have a fun aesthetic," she says. "And maybe a little pop of color." She loves the monochrome look, she adds, especially when dark shades of blue and gray are included.
Affirm / Donna Dotan
In partnership with buy now, pay later service Affirm and designer Mikel Welch, Graham recently updated her home with an entertaining-friendly backyard, and her learnings from the process might just inspire your own entertaining update this season. We caught up with Graham—now a mother of three and the owner of a stunning New Jersey home—and chatted about how she balances high-end and affordable decor, how she created a space that's both family- and entertaining-friendly, her entertaining must-haves, and more.
Related: 27 Doable Outdoor Party Ideas
How Ashley Graham Created Her Perfect Entertaining Space
When she's hosting, Graham wants all her guests to have everything they need—without going overboard. "I want to make sure that everybody's happy," she says. "We definitely have the martini shaker, and we have the wine glasses, and we have the pitcher for the spiked Arnold palmers. But I like also to keep things simple. Sometimes less is more."
With that in mind, when she outfitted her space, Graham considered which items she might save money on—and which she might splurge on.
"It's kind of like my clothes," she says. "I think about it as something that is an investment piece versus something that's trendy. I'm not going to want to look at the same throw or pillow on my couch for the next two years in a row, necessarily, so why not do a little high-end low-end situation? I can get a high-end couch on Affirm and pay as I go, and then I can get the decorative pillows [somewhere else]. It's truly the investment—I like to think about it that way."
While she always knew she wanted her space to be entertaining-friendly, Graham was careful to make sure it didn't become single-purpose.
"Our door is a revolving door of friends and family and then people that we've worked with," she says. "We also are a big snuggle family, and we needed space where we could all gather and snuggle and eat and entertain and also take business calls, so it really has to be multi-purpose."
The items she filled that space with were all chosen with those uses in mind—and also for their durability and weather-resistance. But Graham acknowledges that entertaining takes more than just some useful gadgets.
"It's really fun to have those little trinkets for entertaining, but really it's about what's inside, too," she says. "My mom was really big on hospitality, so she always had a few different types of drinks, homemade, in the fridge." Graham took her lessons to heart and, she says, always keeps a variety of drinks on-hand.
Ready to upgrade your own entertaining space? Graham shared a few suggestions for items she considers entertaining essentials: With these picks ready to go, you'll be prepared for every visitor—even the surprise ones.
Williams Sonoma Classic Bar Tools Set
Graham says her mother raised her to practice Southern hospitality—and keep a variety of drinks on hand so every guest has something to sip and enjoy. A full set of bar tools ensures you'll be able to make any drink your guests request.
Pottery Barn Handcrafted White Enamel Party Bucket
Nowadays, Graham says durability is key: "Most of my friends have kids now, at this point," she says. With kids running around, particularly outdoors, you want entertaining tools that won't shatter after a little jostling. Enter this powder-coated party bucket, which can hold enough bottles to save you from running inside to the fridge too often—and is tough enough to outlast a little rough handling.
West Elm Pure Glass Drink Dispenser
When she entertains, Graham strives to have a variety of beverages to offer her guests—but relies on accessories like this drink dispenser to help the drink station feel put-together. "When you have people in your space, [having a variety of drink options] makes them feel really at home," she says. "That's why I like to have all the extra things … the accessories that just make it feel even more cohesive."
Pottery Barn Marrakesh Melamine Sectioned Serving Platter and Melamine Serving Bowl
"We like plastic," Graham says. "Outside, at least." Take this serving platter and bowl. Made of melamine—a hardy type of plastic—and decorated with pretty blue, gray, and white geometric patterns, these dishes are durable enough to withstand kids and pretty enough to have adults singing their praises.