How She Hosts: Whitney Durham

"How She Hosts:" a Q&A series with women who inspire us

Whitney Durham, of Whitney Durham Interiors, has designed spaces across the southeast - ranging from complex home renovations to more intimate small projects. Her love of art and color, combined with special antique and vintage finds, is the foundation for her memorable projects. Whitney's design aesthetic is often described as fresh, traditional, and approachable with a modern twist.

Whitney lives in Atlanta with her husband, two sons and two yellow labs. Whether it is around the fire pit, by the pool, or in the dining room, Whitney is a regular hostess. One of her greatest strengths is prioritizing the pieces she loves and not worrying about the rest. Read on to learn more about her style and ideas. 

How do you like to entertain? What is the vibe (where, feeling, how)?

I love to entertain in a more casual way with a mix of indoors and outdoors! In our personal home, we use our backyard to entertain quite often. I have multiple seating areas indoor and outdoor to help spread guests out and maximize our use of the space.

 

If the weather is warmer, we have kids swimming (some adults too) and playing ball in the turf, while the adults enjoy their favorite cocktail of choice in our cabana, terrace, and outdoor dining space(s).

If the weather is cooler, we have a fire going in our cabana, warm spa and heated pool, with a fire pit keeping other guests warm on our lower terrace. We roast marshmallows and s'mores in the fall and winter with popsicles and lots of fun seasonal pool floats in the spring and summer! We have heaters in the cabana for the cooler nights and fans on the warmer evenings.

We like to keep the overall vibe casual, comfortable, and fun! I always have fresh flowers throughout my home and outdoor space - in all the bathrooms, by the bars, dining areas, and sitting areas! Tulips are my personal favorite because they come in an array of colors, have natural greenery so you don’t have to add any additional greenery. You can literally drop them into a blue and white ginger jar, add water, and call it a day!

What are you serving?

Let’s be honest, neither my husband nor I like to cook, so we typically “dress up” take-out paired with popular hors d’oeuvres like charcuterie boards, chips and dips, some type of nut, hummus with veggies and maybe a dessert or two!

I dress up the tablescape with pretty blue and white bowls, ginger jars filled with flowers, vintage dishware and vintage silverware paired with pretty cocktail napkins! I love to use a combination of different plates (new and vintage) layered, paired with nice silverware, patterned or monogrammed napkins and an assortment of beverage glasses!

What are you sipping?

I want our guests to enjoy themselves, so I typically have more of an “open bar” feel with a variety of popular liquors, mixers, wine, beer, and champagne. My personal favorite is a cabernet sauvignon in a stemmed wine glass. ;)

I love a good bar cart or bar set up - which does not have to be set up in your kitchen! You can set up a bar anywhere in your yard, garden, patio, terrace, by your pool, etc! I usually set up two or three “bar areas” for easy access and flow when having friends over. Each bar area is set up a little differently, but all include pretty cocktail napkins, a fun mix of glasses, straws, fruit, lemons and limes, pretty wine and beer bottle openers, and ice buckets!

What are you wearing?

It depends on what the occasion is and time of year, but I love a casual, comfy dress and if it’s warm outside I am always barefoot!

I prefer a casual dress in a fun print or pattern! If it’s cooler outside, I would probably pair my dress with booties or tennis shoes and complete the outfit with fun vintage jewelry, a chunky necklace or statement earrings!

What are you listening to?

This would also depend on the party occasion and time of year… maybe some easy listening like James Taylor or Tom Petty or low key beach music like Jimmy Buffet in the spring and summer. Classic rock and modern day country are typically good year round! If it’s around the holidays, Christmas classics are always playing in our home!

How do you make your guests feel special?

I always try to make guests feel welcome and “at home” when they are at our house by keeping the vibe casual, comfortable and welcoming.

Good food, good cocktails, and good friends always make for a great time!


If you're hosting a dinner, what is your go-to centerpiece?

I love vintage blue and white ginger jars - or any ginger jar for that matter! I fill them with fresh flowers and greenery, incorporate some fun colored tapered candles in brass candlesticks, paired with fresh fruit like lemons, limes, oranges, apples or grapefruits layered around the arrangements and candlesticks!

Sometimes I add greenery on the tabletop with the fruit depending on the season and the occasion - magnolia or evergreen are always classic options to mix into a tablescape centerpiece whether it’s in the flower arrangements or floating on the table as part of the centerpiece.

How do you end a celebration?

I typically end a celebration with a toast thanking everyone for coming and being a part of such a special evening or celebration with recognition to all involved who helped make the evening a success – live music, bartenders, co-hosts, etc. I would also toast and raise a glass to whomever the celebration was celebrating!

What is your favorite Half Past Seven product to entertain with?

Half Past Seven has so many great entertaining pieces, it’s hard to select just one!

However, if I had to pick just one favorite I would have to say the 18 inch Bird and Flower Ginger Jar!

Along with a set of four tortoise rocks glasses! (I know... that was actually my favorite two!) As I mentioned, I love a good blue and white ginger jar filled with greenery and flowers paired with some fun glasses that can serve non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages alike.

Let’s play “this or that”…

  • Charger vs. Placemat: Charger 
  • Stemmed vs. Stem-less: Stemmed
  • Red vs. White: Red
  • Tablecloth vs. Bare: Bare
  • Votives vs. Taper Candle: Taper Candle
  • Formal vs. Informal: Informal



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