Designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas Spills Her Secrets to Setting a Beautiful Outdoor Table

·2 min read
Photo credit: David Hillegas Photography
Photo credit: David Hillegas Photography

As we gently ease into reopening the world, one of the most natural ways to welcome more social activities back into our lives is by entertaining alfresco. Whether your locale of choice is under a favorite shaded tree in the neighborhood park, the deck of a lake or beach home, or even in your own lush backyard, we anticipate outdoor dinner parties, brunches, and happy hours to be vital parts of the summer social scene. Thankfully, decorator and textile designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas has plenty of tips and tablescape inspiration for the warmest season.

Hillegas says she is thrilled to be able to put her hostess hat back on once again and host some intimate dinner parties alfresco this season. The decorator partnered with WILLIAMSBURG Brands, which holds a special place in her heart as a native Virginian, to dream up a gorgeous table for her first gathering of the summer.

"A classic blue and white scheme is my go-to for interiors as well as for entertaining," says Hillegas. "Since the peonies were blooming in our garden, it seemed fitting to arrange them in our WILLIAMSBURG Hannah Scallop Planter by Port 68. I’ve always loved the pairing of blue and white with pink." Plus, filling her WILLIAMSBURG Mini Chinoise Vases, by Global Views with extra peony blossoms makes a simple yet thoughtful take-home gift for guests.

Photo credit: David Hillegas Photography
Photo credit: David Hillegas Photography

Hillegas says setting a gorgeous summer table always begins with selecting the perfect tablecloth, and she often pulls from her own line, Heather Chadduck Textiles. From there, she peruses her entertaining closet to layer the table, selecting rattan chargers, vintage brass bamboo flatware, WILLIAMSBURG Delft Tile napkins from Park Designs, WILLIAMSBURG Virginia Blue china from Mottehedeh, and colorful modern glassware for this particular scene.

"The mix of traditional, modern, and vintage keeps [the table] looking fresh, and no table is complete without a simple yet beautiful flower arrangement," says Hillegas.

Photo credit: David Hillegas Photography
Photo credit: David Hillegas Photography

As a Virginian-turned-Alabamian, Hillegas also knows the importance of keeping guests as cool as possible while entertaining in the summertime. This means that the final touches of a warm-weather tablescape—the drinks and dishes—are as important to think through as the decor.

"A covered porch is an extension of the Southern home, so setting the table in the shade and often with ceiling fans will keep company cool and comfortable," says Hillegas. Additionally, a light summer menu and cold beverages will keep guests content." Her favorite summer lineup includes an array of fresh salads, tomato and cucumber gazpacho, and a frozen pie or gelato for dessert. And she says minted iced tea and rosé are excellent pairings for keeping cool while enjoying a light summer meal.

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