Story: Katie Cooper | Photography: Rett Peek |
Kevin Walsh creates a backyard party with Southern charm and a patriotic palette
“Family. Friends. Food.” These are the words Kevin Walsh of Bear Hill Interiors uses to describe his take on Fourth of July festivities. Along with a dose of classic Americana design, Walsh used this mantra to create a backyard celebration full of fun activities with a flavorful menu. “I really wanted to keep this simple,” Walsh says. “For me, this holiday is more about spending time with people. Food is just the vehicle to get people there,” he says with a smile. Read on for ideas for your own Independence Day gathering.
Create a Patriotic Palette
“This is a very strong blue and white theme with little touches of red,” Walsh says of the traditional American color scheme. When hosting a special occasion or themed event, he encourages hosts to take a look around their home. “A lot of people don’t think to use what you have. This homeowner already had a lot of blue and white pieces. We carried that palette outside by using their existing plates and paired that with red food,” proving a color scheme can come to life from unexpected places. “Even the brick is red,” he adds with a laugh. An American Flag banner hangs from the covered patio, while simple flower arrangements of blue hydrangea are placed throughout the space for unity.
Serve Summer Staples
“This is what I call classic Fourth of July food,” Walsh says. With barbecued ribs straight off the grill, roasted corn on the cob, fresh-cut tomatoes, Arkansas watermelon, a lemon tart, and more, appetites are sure to be pleased. “And it doesn’t get more Fourth of July than lemonade,” he adds of the beverage selection.
Make It Fun for Everyone
“I wanted to have something fun for guests to do while cooking or clean up is going on,” Walsh says. A croquet set was placed in the yard for both kids and adults to enjoy. “You could do any kind of yard game—badminton or bocce ball.” Walsh also adds that it’s a great icebreaker and conversation starter for guests who don’t know one another.
Planning your own backyard bash?
Kelly Lovell from Count Porkula/Rock BBQ Catering Company shares his personal tips for preparing your party menu:
Get a Headcount
The first rule of hosting? Don’t run out of food! Figure approximately how many people are coming to your event and plan accordingly.
Consider the Seasoning
When serving meat, the seasoning should enhance the taste, yet not take away from the flavor of the cut. For pork and chicken, use a dry rub to add flavor. For steaks and brisket, use salt and pepper only.
Time it Right
Allow enough time to make sure all the food is prepared and ready when guests arrive. This is especially important when cooking meat—whether serving right off the grill or smoking ahead of time, you don’t want the meat to dry out or become chewy.
Keep the Appropriate Temperature
Use proper serving dishes to keep the hot food hot and the cold food cold. Consider chafing dishes for warm foods and containers designed to hold ice for cool menu items.
Remember, Fresh is Best
The fresher the ingredients, the better the reviews. Shop your local farmer’s market—or your backyard garden—for ingredients. Bonus: If you grew it yourself, you’ve earned green-thumb bragging rights.
Event design Kevin Walsh, Bear Hill Interiors
Accessories Arkansas Flag and Banner and Bear Hill Interiors
Catering Kelly Lovell, Count Porkula/Rock BBQ Catering Company