Kelli Delaney likes to transport her guests to fabulous journeys through her table settings. Last summer she created a tablescape inspired by the Silk Route by weaving blue and white ceramics with elements from the Italian Mediterranean like wrought iron pieces, monumental pottery and sprinklings of lemons.
For fall, Kelli is at it again. She’s taking us on a fantastical voyage to the India of Jackie Kennedy, the Italian rococo period and ending up on the wraparound porch of her Hamptons home. It’s all there on her table setting, a colorful and vibrant pastiche that makes the eyes travel.
“I wanted to create a new take on a fabulous fall table. Forget the little white pumpkins and hunting scenes on vintage porcelain plates and let’s go for a glamorous, gold and fuchsia decadent design. My starting point always begins with the dinnerware I feel will work best with the season and the menu,” says Kelli.
She began with her vintage china — Versace Butterfly Garden collection by Rosenthal — a gilded and colorful pattern that recalls the rococo. “The pattern is so pretty and ornate and I knew it would marry perfectly with the stunning Kim Seybert pieces I chose to incorporate. I love the mix of textures, color, and materials incorporated into Kim’s designs. The ornate napkin rings and chargers become conversation pieces when guests sit down.”
She’s chosen to use our Laurel Charger in Gold & Silver as an under layer for her plates. And in a stroke of table setting genius, she used one as a base for her glorious floral centerpiece of peonies, roses, thistles and freesias created by Lilee Fell. “I always send my floral designers close up photographs of the dinnerware and linens, and table I intend to use for the dinner a few days in advance. That gives them time to think about the flowers and colors that will compliment the design best,” advices Kelli. She’s tops of the setting with the Brilliant Napkin Ring in gold that shimmers a maharajah jewel which fastens the Tangier Napkin in White, Gold & Silver.
“Instead of a simple linen look, I chose a gold underlay topped with a pink and gold embroidered sari fabric from my favorite shop in Little India.”
Kelli entertains a lot with her husband Dr. Mark Kot. They can be anywhere from all-out big bashes to quiet casual affairs or as she describes “a fussy lunch for just one friend to make them feel extra spoiled.” She is the arbiter of all things Hamptons-related what with her digital guide and diary to all the chic happenings in this part of Long Island. With her extensive editorial background (having worked in various senior roles at titles like Allure, Glamour and Us Weekly), she’s created KD Hamptons, which has become an indispensable guide to the summer town.
“My design inspiration flows with the seasons,” describes the consummate hostess, “during the summer I am transfixed with blue and white decor, and in the fall I love earthy, jewel tones and patterns that I would never use in the warmer months. The menu changes with seasonal ingredients, the signature cocktails change from light and refreshing, to bold and substantial, and the mood shifts from warm al fresco to nesting by the fire.”
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Kelli’s Top Entertaining Tips
I pull out all the stops for my holiday parties which means making lots of details personalized: I love to add my monogram or the name of our home, Maple Shade, on napkins, glasses and trays. Also, don’t forget to plan ahead and have your table linens pressed before the soirée.
My menus always include ingredients from Halsey Farm on my country road and the catch of the day from my favorite Montauk fishermen. For smaller size dinners I like to have the menu hand written and share resources. Farm to table and dock to dish entertaining is a way of life for a proper Hamptons hostess!
Flowers are my passion! I will cut from my garden to make arrangements: peonies, hydrangeas, roses, dahlias, whatever is in bloom. I also love to collaborate with all of the talented floral designers here in the Hamptons, including: Lilee Fell, Topiaire, East Hampton Gardens, and Arthur Gobalek. They are all so unique and inspiring!
Fussy, formal dinners are out right now. People want to feel relaxed and comfortable at dinner parties, but the food and decor should still remain precisely decadent and delicious. Adding relaxed seating areas, or a bench or love seat along the length of the table instead of chairs allows guests to sit where they want, with whom they want. Seating charts feel too controlling right now, especially when a host “splits couples” – a move which everyone secretly hates including me.
No matter what the size of the gathering, I always offer my guests a full bar. Rosé all day may be a trend for some, but not for me. I want my guests to arrive and be handed their favorite drink and not be limited to what we have at the bar. A signature drink is always a must, this fall we have been serving Hot Toddy’s and Bourbon Old Fashions by the fire.
A curated, sexy playlist is a must! Also, make sure you have a great sound system that flows from indoors to the outdoor setting.