It’s clear that Athena Calderone has always infused style into every aspect of her life, but lately the interior designer & blogger behind Eye Swoon has got the internet seriously buzzing (this stunning Elle Decor feature, a Refinery29 tour and a coincidental appearance in Cristina’s column, to name a few)… and with good reason! Our gorgeous lady-of-the-hour not only has ridiculously great taste in fashion & interiors, she’s quite a force in the kitchen too. That said, there’s no place we’d rather be on this Wednesday morning than joining Athena at her Amagansett home as she preps for the perfect summer dinner party. Click through for the swoon-worthy photos (captured by Chloe Crespi), and be sure to bookmark Athena’s must-have grilled halibut recipe on slide 12!
My entertaining style in 5 words or less:
Mediterranean, Seasonal, Fresh, Rustic, Elegant, Fun, Casual
I swoon over the magical quality of togetherness that springs up around a bountiful table. An intimate table with beautiful food brings people together… there’s a commonality, a sharing, a relaxed environment. Moody lighting, saturated color, incredible local food – nothing is more elegant & intriguing that being invited to an intimate dinner party with friends.
I love using glass water bottles, mason jars, or found containers as flower vessels. It just feels more casual and unique than a standard vase.
Always keep a pitcher of water on the table so that guests don’t have to keep asking for refills.
The restaurant meal I’ll never forget:
Seaside in Mykonos on a hidden path to Agis Sostis beach sits a teeny shack of a restaurant with only an open air grill. Eating grilled octopus and a tomato feta salad… perfection. I dream of that meal with its simplicity and stunning views. Mediterranean & delicious. My first meal at Battersby in Brooklyn experiencing their tasting menu was also spectacular.
The entertaining rule I rarely break:
Prepare everything in advance so you can enjoy your guests. I love to be in the kitchen — it’s where I’m happiest — but a glass of wine when you’re prepping certainly makes it more fun!
I love juxtaposing elements in most everything I do. I have no rules in my approach to design — embracing that unexpected mix of pairing the old and new, high and low, modern and traditional, grit and glamour! A luxe texture paired with a more rough hewn rustic element — it’s all about the mix and it’s what creates intrigue and curiosity in a space.
My dream dinner guests:
I would love to cook for Diana Vreeland. She absolutely fascinates me! Funny enough, (our photographer for this shoot) Chloe Crespi‘s grandmother worked side by side with Diana at Vogue for years & was a dear friend of hers!
A happy entertaining accident:
I store my scented candles in the same drawer as my table linens. They perfectly and subtly scent my napkins and table runners!
The perfect dinner party playlist includes:
Oh, I’m the first to admit that I’m the worst at making playlists! It completely overwhelms me and I’m always asking friends to create them for me. But some dinnertime favorites are a mix of different genres. Hip hop, reggae, classics, alternative…
The Capitols, Notorious BIG, Sister Nancy, Elvis, Gil Scott-Heron, Jamie xx, Lauryn Hill, The Temptations, Noisettes, N.O.B.E, Metric, SBTRKT, Francoise Hardy, Coolio, Blackstreet, Cat Power, LCD Soundsystem
What scares you about entertaining?
Timing. It’s so essential and can mess up everything if it’s off. Getting everything on the table at once and looking beautiful is essential and often those last moments and finishing touches can get stressful.
Always in my refrigerator:
Lemons, herbs, pesto, berries, peaches, sparkling water, organic half & half for morning coffee, fage greek yogurt, arugula.
My signature entertaining dish:
A local white fish cooked on the grill on either cedar planks or on a bed of sliced lemons, always served with an herby & lemony salsa verde. It’s bright, fresh, and delish! The cedar board and lemon allow a delicate fish to be grilled on open fire without sticking & without having to flip the fish.
The taste I’m always craving:
In the summer: fresh baby heirloom tomatoes with shallots, olive oil, lemon and torn basil from the garden. Sometimes I add peach to this salad which is divine! Perfect when served with fish, steak or on it’s own as a salad.
This dish truly represents summer to me. With its clean, vibrant flavors and a bounty of the seasons best veggies, it packs a punch. It’s the perfect dish for either lunch or dinner, and the cedar planks give the fish a wonderful woodsy flavor and keep it incredibly moist!
Click here for the recipe for Athena’s Grilled Halibut with Herb Pesto Tomato Salad!
My must-have entertaining tool:
An amazing wood board. It’s perfect for serving cheese, cutting bread, or with a sheet of parchment paper can become a platter for fish. A wooden herb chopper is invaluable to me when cooking… I use it all day long, all summer long!
I love design and food, and for me they both feed each other. I never quite realized how I approach both in the same way — adding layers and textures and unexpected contrasting elements work in both a room and on a great plate of food. EyeSwoon is the truest representation of all the bits of myself… at my core I just like to make things beautiful.
Current favorite color palette for summer fêtes:
I just bought the most beautiful muted seafoam green and pale grey dinner plates from Canvas. They almost feel like watercolors, perfectly subtle & washed out color. I always take my palette inspiration from nature. I just love the vibrant green of trees and the often moody midnight blue dusk sky, and the blushy hues of the setting sun… oranges, pinks, purples.
photos by Chloe Crespi