Steal these patriotic party ideas from an Independence Day soiree held by Fayetteville exterior designer and landscape expert Daniel Keeley
Spruce Up the Shed A backyard storage shed might not be top of mind when you’re considering party venues. However, for Daniel Keeley, owner of Northwest-Arkansas-based DK Design, it seemed like a natural choice. When his clients, who live in the heart of Fayetteville and frequently host tailgates for Razorback football games, moved into this the circa 1900 Southern-style home, he seized the opportunity to transform the property’s shed into a small—but fully functional—space for cozy gatherings any time of year. Transform your own outbuilding or garage by wiring it for electricity, adding windows or additional doors to bring in light, installing new flooring, and/or painting the walls and exterior.
Add Durable—and Desirable—Furnishings “It’s a little bit of fantasy and totally unexpected, but in such a natural setting,” Keeley says of this shed’s furniture, art, and everyday accessories. Comfortable, outdoor pieces—all of which are stylish enough to be used in the home’s interior—give the shed an approachable, laid-back feel. For example, a heavy sisal rug covers the floor and a weathered wood table offers a place for guests to sit or to set up a buffet. These pieces juxtapose with the shiny, elegance of the brass light fixtures and the contemporary art seen on the back wall. When it comes to your own space, consider your style and make the look one that’s reflective of you—and that coordinates with the rest of your home. Whether you’re hosting on a patio, front lawn, or in a shed, also be sure to consider your guests’ comfort, and select and arrange your furnishings accordingly.
Make It Festive While some of the shed’s furnishings naturally lent themselves to an all-American celebration, Keeley added accessories to remind revelers of the reason for the occasion. “I wanted [this party] to be patriotic, but not totally expected,” Keeley says of the décor additions. For example, a custom table runner and pillows—made from outdoor fabric—bring in blue and white along with a star motif, while other accents, such as a garden stool and bright peonies, offer a pop of red to complete the U.S.A.-inspired palette. Look for items you may already have around the house, such as an American flag, red, white, or blue lanterns, and potted plants to bring the décor to life in a subtle and understated way.
Mix Up the Menu While barbecuing may be a traditional way to spend the day, consider making fruits and vegetables the star of the party. They’ll make a beautiful, in-season addition to your fare. Sammy Townsend, who owns Fayetteville’s Bouchee Bistro along with Justin Calvert and Vince Pinalto, created the “classic pairings of sweet and salty” for this menu. When it comes to your selections, choose items that are readily available and easily prepared (or made ahead of time), and be sure to offer something for every taste.
Ingredients: 2 bell peppers, halved/ 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or chopped/ 2 cucumbers, sliced/ ¼ cup olive oil/ Salt and pepper to taste/ Splash of balsamic vinegar
Preparation: Use a grill to cook the peppers, flipping once during roasting to get nice grill marks on both sides of the vegetable. Remove from grill, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Place tomatoes, grilled peppers, and cucumbers in a bowl, and drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Toss the ingredients and serve at room temperature.
If a grill is not available, you can roast the vegetables directly on the open flame of a cooktop, or cook in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes.
[For the crust]
(Recipe yields 8 individual 3-inch shells or 2 8-inch shells)
Ingredients: 2 cups flour/ 1 tablespoon sugar/ pinch salt/ 1 ½ sticks butter/ 2 egg yolks/ ½ cup heavy cream
Preparation: Combine first four ingredients in food processor. Process until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add yolks and cream. Pulse until combined. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Remove and roll to ¼-inch thickness. Use the dough to line tart rings. Blind bake, using pie weights, in 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Remove weights and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
[For the pastry cream]
Ingredients: 2 cups milk/ 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise/ 6 egg yolks/ ½ cup sugar/ ¼ cup cornstarch
Preparation: Put milk and scrapings of the vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. On medium-high heat, scald milk until small bubbles form. In a bowl, whisk yolks. Add sugar and cornstarch, and continue to whisk until smooth. Carefully pour hot milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return to saucepan and continue cooking until thickened. Refrigerate until cool.
Assembly: Remove tart shell from pan and place on serving dish. Fill halfway with pastry cream. Arrange blackberries on top in single layer and dust with powered sugar. Garnish with flowers or mint.
Design—garden and event Daniel Keeley, DK Design, Fayetteville, (479) 443-9002, dkdesignoutdoor.com
Bistro lights Ewing, Bentonville, (479) 271-9532, North Little Rock, (501) 758-9530, Springdale, (479) 927-9531, ewing1.com
Catering Bouchee Bistro, Fayetteville, (479) 409-0509
Custom pillows and table runner Joy Ford, Stitches of Joy, Fayetteville, (479) 595-4581
Florals Pam Pemberton, Flora, Fayetteville, (479) 442-7010, floranwa.com