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  • Writer's pictureJCB

Press: We Threw a Party in Baltimore Magazine

Updated: Jun 20

I recently had the good fortune to be asked to creative direct and style a six page entertaining spread for Baltimore Magazine! I mean, I can't think of a client objective that's more in my wheelhouse than 'make a bunch of food, make it pretty and invite people over...' Yes, please.

In a pre-covid, pre-digital world, styling for a magazine would typically be a high end affair with unlimited budgets and NY style sets crawling with PA's and champagne/caviar studded craft services, but things being the way they are now, these shoots need to be a little more, how you say, resourceful. Good thing I was born that way—my husband tells me I can turn a sandwich into a banquet, so I guess it's some superpower of mine, always trying figure out all the different ways to make lemonade with a single lemon.

To make this thing work—make it gorgeous, cozy and abundant—without any money, I needed to call in the big guns—a few clutch friends, and all my local retail, food and beverage heroes that I knew of in Baltimore and throw it all on the table. Literally. And then edit.

I couldn't survive without my buds. Drury Bynum, Dan Martinez, Megan Isennock, Fiona Vismans, Hilton Carter + Colin Marshall not only joined the 'party', they gave me emotional support!

So, it takes a bit more than just 'slapping stuff on the table and calling it a party' when it comes to producing and styling a photo shoot. Everything needs to be sourced, planned, picked up, coordinated, dressed and ready to go when the client, talent and photographer arrive. Luckily this shoot was set at our house, so for a few weeks prior, I started looking at inspiration, getting the 'feeling' of what I wanted to create first and then thinking about the 'content' of what we would be doing and then thinking about the color and tone and was able to start collecting and sourcing for the shoot and store it all on the set—AKA my dining room.

To begin, I talked about it at length with B-mag's style editor Janelle Diamond and we tossed around a few ideas. I also started looking at magazines from holidays prior, pinterest boards, books, all the things... I came across a gorgeous shoot from a few years ago in one of my favorite magazines Bon Appetit. This one gave off lush, hygge-cabin vibes and was just simply a super cozy, close-friends gathering that seemed very familiar. Inspired, I decided that I wanted to stick to what I know and do something that, for the past two years, many have not been able to do—and that's invite a few friends over for a cozy winter dinner. This 'winter feast with friends' will hopefully inspire others to do it too, because now we can.

I connected with all of my favorite shops around Baltimore and everyone said yes. 'Come get whatever you need.' I started at Becket Hitch and found these irresistible, bright, ochre/yellow napkins and textural napkin rings and that was the start of my palette. The napkins didn't seem 'holiday' on their own (btw we shot this in late August) but I love a warm bright yellow against creamy warm whites and hits of dark blue/gray. The dark blue gray reminds me of a moody winter sky and the it isn't winter without white... I found some moody dark things at Good Neighbor and some gorgeous pieces that complimented at Ruxton Mercantile.

I also needed to add the 'holiday' without it being specific to which holiday, so this was really about a winter party. To make it feel more 'winter' I added wire brush trees from In Watermelon Sugar but in our tonal palette and had my friend Alyssa Zygmunt of Tilled Studio take the mantel and table to the next level with dried florals. I love what she did with the drieds, it adds another dimension beyond green from the usual Christmasy palette. The first photo below is the 'before'! The transformation is WILD!

So after securing props, I picked everything up a few days in advance and put it all on the table. You know you are on the right track when it all looks good together, even when it's not styled. I also hit up Hedgerow for some unique dishware and host gifts, and that made way for the food and drink...

To style with props is one thing. To style with food is another. To do both, alone, now that is just insane. I had to enlist the help of my right hand, on-set-wife/Swiss army knife of a human Kady Dulny (and of course my ever-handy hub Dru) and she managed to not only quell my insanity, she even masterfully cut the over-the-top Frenched rib roast (provided graciously from Eddie's). This was more than a piece of meat, this was a masterpiece. Because of all the moving parts, I decided this shoot had to involve zero cooking so I also asked Gundalow Gourmet if they would like to provide the sides to our winter feast, and provide they did! We had fennel salad, we had smoked gouda potatoes, we had roasted carrots, we had Brussels—all beautifully done and delicious. Other show stoppers were the oysters from True Chesapeake and the next level meat board from JBGB's. And yes, you absolutely can/should shuck and serve raw oysters yourself at home! We tied it all up at the end with pies from Dangerously Delicious (of course!) and ice cream from The Charmery.

A 100% Baltimore production!

Really, this kind of dinner party is something anyone can do. I was really impressed with the level of quality everything had at the table. Order. Pick up (or even have it delivered) and reheat in the oven or assemble in pretty bowls and on the table. VOILA! You're a genius. You can't have a party without booze though (in my book, anyway) so I was really grateful for Angels Ate Lemons for coming through with the most delicious natural wines on the planet and Baltimore Spirits Co. for providing the gin and whiskey. To capture the whole thing, it was an absolute pleasure to meet one of my new favorite people, Julie Hove Andersen. She was fun to work with and took some amazing natural light photos in my very dark house. Miracles do happen!

I love how the spread turned out. Please pick up the November issue now and if you're not a subscriber yet, do it! Baltimore Magazine is one of the best cultural resources we have (in print) for Baltimore, and as we know from history, if we don't continue to support the things we love and value, we will lose them. The image from the spread below is so dear to me. Our dog Kiwi made the cut and the lower right is a genuine moment. Happiness in work has been my goal for the past few years and I think I've damn well reached it.

BONUS! We also made a playlist for the party. It's a good one...

Juniper House is a full service interior styling studio helping clients realize their dream space. Contact us if you want us to help create your dream!


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