An Elle Decor Editor’s Next Level Dinner Party in Upstate New York

A Sunday well spent.

By Jenn Rose Smith

Mieke ten Have is a girl to watch — we first discovered her ourselves when we came across her gorgeous yet understated garden wedding in Maine. Since the wedding Mieke has kept busy: she’s not only an editor at large at Elle Decor, but she’s also a design writer, consultant, and co-founder of Panier Home.

Mieke, her husband, Tyler Graham (of Kings Highway Cider), and their adorable daughter now split their time between Manhattan and their new home in upstate New York. The couple are among the first wave of young NYC creatives to stake claim in Millerton, a charming historic town experiencing a creative renaissance of sorts (the New York Times has already named it Williamsburg on the Hudson). We caught up with this very busy mom/stylist/designer/editor/boss babe for a quiet backyard dinner, and now we’re dreaming about life in Millerton, too.

photographed by belathée

Okay, this place is incredibly gorgeous. Give us a little backstory on Millerton and your home here:

Our home in Millerton is a converted New World Dutch barn from the early 19th century. Millerton is a wonderful little town in northern Dutchess county that feels very Mayberry — no chain stores, lots of cute little shops (including antique stores, my favorite) and a couple good, simple places to eat. We just bought the house last spring and have been gradually updating it. I joke that I have a side job running an inn on the weekends — we have friends nearly every weekend, especially during the summer. This involves a lot of pre planned meal shopping, cleaning sheets and towels, making runs to the train station to pick people up, and ensuring there is plenty to drink and eat at hand.

What do you love about getting out of the city for the weekend?

It resets me — if you’re in the city for too long, you forget how divorced from the natural world you become. I don’t think it’s healthy for one’s mental sense of balance and well being.

Favorite time of year in Millerton? 

Early summer, for peony season.

The one entertaining rule you never break:

I never serve cheese before a big dinner.

Your must-have entertaining tool:

There isn’t just one! Beautiful plates, glassware, linens, candles, and wine are all must-haves in my book.

The taste you’re always craving:

I always say if I had to choose a last meal, it would be caviar and creme fraiche on blinis, a cheeseburger with sauteed onions, and peppermint stick ice cream for dessert.

Your standard hostess outfit:

Any kind of comfortable dress — I am not a pants girl and never have been!

Favorite 4th of July tradition:

Being in Maine with my extended family and eating lots of lobster, oysters, and champagne.

Your go-to centerpiece solution:

Mixing candles and low vases with flower arrangements.

What’s on the menu for tonight?

Bringing a little Maine to Millerton — lobster! My parents’ country house is in Maine, and they will often drop off lobsters on their way back to Manhattan, much to our delight. I’m serving a fresh corn and baby tomato salad tossed in olive oil, lime juice, and tons of fresh mint, roasted white peaches with roquefort, and escargot. For dessert we’ll be having creme caramel with fresh berries. In the summer I keep it very simple.

Your dream dinner guests:

Sounds so cliché, but whatever — Barack Obama. Lord, I miss that man!

Mieke served a pretty plate of escargot on vintage blue china.

What would we never find at one of your parties?

Plastic cups.

Fresh cooked lobster, brought back from her parent’s summer home in Maine.

Favorite tabletop item you own:

This is like asking to pick a favorite child! I like to stock up on rolls of vintage fabric, especially toiles and chintzes, for interesting and off kilter tablecloths, and I have a large collection of china and glassware– anything new from Astier de Villatte and Alberto Pinto tableware to old, like 19th century gilded Tiffany plates, and lots of Wedgwood transferware. I like to mix it all.

What cocktails are you serving tonight?

Kings Highway Cider. My husband, Tyler, is launching a hard cider company this summer. He has won lots of awards for his dry cider — it goes with everything and is incredibly refreshing. It is a great alternative to beer and wine.

Mieke prepared roasted white peaches with roquefort, a perfect side for summer nights.

Mieke always makes it a point to cut lobster after she cooks it, “so my guests don’t have to fuss with tools and can pull the meat out of the shells with their hands or forks.”

Always in the fridge at your country house:

A wide ranging selection in the cheese drawer. And, being Dutch, I always have a jar of herring and some very aged gouda.

She served creme caramel with fresh berries for desert.

Favorite after dinner activity or game:

Watching the fireflies from our screened-in porch. We’ll blow out all the candles after dinner and watch the show.

Your entertaining style in 5 words or fewer:

Pretty table and good food!