You know how sometimes, you hear someone’s name pop up multiple times within the span of a week and you wonder if it might be some kind of sign? Over the last few months, Natasha Esch (and her inimitable Hampton’s store MONC XIII) have quite literally been everywhere – from Goop to Lonny to Vanity Fair – and I’d say that the results of our interview and photo shoot prove the connection was quite serendipitous. As a “lover of finely tuned curation,” Natasha dreamed of opening a store that would combine her love of old and new, traditional meets modern. MONC XIII’s vintage pieces are arranged in the space just like a beautifully-designed home, inspiring everyone who enters its doors with a uniquely curated and totally unexpected mix that has east coast style setters flocking. I asked the woman behind this style mecca if she’d spill the details on how she entertains at home and let us in on her best tips for setting the table… just in time for our own holiday gatherings! Click through for all the pretty details shot by Belathée Photography.
My entertaining style in 5 words or less:
Casual and atmospheric, but planned and prepared.
The entertaining rule I rarely break:
I never cook for more than 16 people. I’ll call a caterer if I host a larger gathering!
This first table setting is summer inspired. The idea here was to evoke summer with the color blue and the Chaine D’Ancre pattern from Hermes, Bleus D’ailleurs and Bernardaud Ecume White china. Ecume provides the texture and the other two provide pattern along with our beautiful MONC XIII linens in blue and white.
Always in my fridge:
A large selection of fresh herbs, Greek yogurt, fresh OJ, Pellegrino, my homemade jam of the week, fresh mozzarella, Dijon mustard, smoked salmon, eggs.
Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #1 Never use centerpieces that obstruct eye level — this goes for candles as well. Keep things low and never use scented candles on a table with food… it interferes with the palate!
Current favorite color palette for parties:
In summer, white and blue. In fall and winter, a moodier and natural palette with some black, white and burlap elements.
Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #2 Incorporate the season. Use seasonal centerpieces or elements like branches in fall or spring and summer flowers in summer. In winter use spices, and rich elements.
What scares you about entertaining?
Guests bringing an unexpected entourage of friends. It’s why I always prepare extra food; but it really helps to be specific when you send invites to give a more accurate number!
Cocktail of choice?
While I have a pretty full bar available for guests, I prefer champagne or wine for festive gatherings.
Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #2 Contrast textures. If the china is slick, use earthy textured napkins. Try to represent varying textures on the table to create layers.
The taste I’m always craving:
Fresh seasonal food and a great soup. I’m currently into Lentil with Polish sausage.
Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #4 Stick to one color for the table as an accent. I always feel that the food needs to shine, so too many colors just become a jumble. One color is much more powerful that many that dilute each other.
My signature entertaining dish:
Anything slow cooked works for me in my hostess hat. My turkey chili is popular among regular guests.
My must-have entertaining tool:
Candles. Candlelight is like the ancestor of Instagram – a perfect filter and everyone looks amazing.
I also set a more transitional fall table by keeping the colors light and neutral but not white as we did in the summer. I also infused natural leather coasters and pops of red with Frederic Malle candles and steak knives by Berti in red. The idea was to warm things up for fall with red and to introduce earthy textures and colors to depart from the crisp whiteness of summer.
Click here to see more of Belathée’s work.