Date: October 31, 2019 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
Shop owner Heather Wardle celebrates a few of her favorite things—hosting loved ones, the great outdoors, and the South—in this autumn-inspired gathering
As the owner of Southern Life, Heather Wardle loves all things hostess-related, from cookbooks and cocktail napkins to barware and serving bowls. While her online shop is a resource for those who enjoy entertaining, she herself enjoys trying out selections from the store in her home. Inspired by time spent growing up in southwest Arkansas, she is drawn to outdoor-inspired pieces that have meaning and resonate with both her and her husband, Brian.
For this fall gathering, Heather set a table where retrievers, ducks, feathers, and an array of natural elements abound. Place settings topped with Spode’s “Woodland” motif featuring hunting dogs, wild turkeys, and other wildlife give the scene an air of Southern sophistication as well as personalization. “I always like to put a different napkin, glass, or plate at each person’s seat to help them remember which chair is his or hers,” Heather says.
While Heather is an avid cook and enjoys trying new recipes alongside tried-and-true favorites, she says she and Brian often have friends over for drinks. Thus, she was inspired to share a twist on a classic cocktail in the form of a slightly more savory rosemary old fashioned—the perfect complement to toast any fall soirée in the South.
For this fall gathering, the table is set with the couple’s everyday dinnerware, Lenox’s “Butler’s Pantry,” and accented with Spode’s “Woodland” salad plates. The silver belonged to Heather’s dad’s mother, whom she lovingly refers to as “the queen of hosting.” Stag-head glassware and a centerpiece of zinnias, millet, and feathers add to the outdoorsy feel.
Just Add Color
This is Heather and Brian’s fifth home, and they have put their spin on each along the way. She notes she always starts with a neutral backdrop and brings in color (with partiality to her two favorites, blue and green) through furnishings and accessories. “I thought it would be fun in here to do an on-trend cabinet color, too,” she says of the bold bar.
On a Roll
A vintage rolling bar cart corrals glasses, a serving set, bitters, and liquor for crafting concoctions. Above the cart hang two colorful works depicting polo matches, a favorite pastime of Brian’s. “We tend to choose artwork that is sentimental or that means something to us, rather than it being on trend or by a certain artist,” Heather says.
Rosemary Old Fashioned
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 stems rosemary
2 ounces whiskey
¼ ounce rosemary simple syrup
2 drops Woodford Reserve orange bitters (available through Southern Life)
ice (Heather recommends one large square cube)
rosemary sprigs, for garnish
orange wedge or peel, for garnish
To make the simple syrup, combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, remove rosemary stems. Simple syrup will last 2-3 days in an airtight container.
To make the cocktail, pour first three ingredients over ice. Stir gently and garnish as you wish. Sip to enjoy!
To learn more about Heather’s online store (as well as upcoming pop-up shops in Bentonville and Nashville), visit shopsouthernlife.com or follow along on Instagram (@shopsouthernlife). For décor tips and home info, follow @southernlifehome.