Celebrating Summer

At his personal home in Ansley Park, Don Easterling and Nina Long of Mathews Design Group fashion a classic and sophisticated summer soirée

Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles: Your tabletop exudes summertime elegance. What was the inspiration behind the design?

Nina Long: We lean toward classic design, and with this being outdoors, it needed to feel less formal. We like blue-and-white porcelain—there’s a lot of it in the house—so we thought it would be fun to incorporate that. That was our starting point, and then we thought it would be pretty to do a palette with touches of green, blues, creams and a little bit of purple. Nature is always an inspiration and we didn’t want to compete with
the lush landscape.

AH&L: Having multiple hangout spots for guests is both charming and efficient. Tell us more about your various entertaining zones.

Don Easterling: What’s great about the outdoor area is how well it all flows—whether it’s six people or 60. The best part is you can open the doors and seamlessly go from the keeping room and kitchen area to the porch, and from the open-air porch you feel connected to the pool area below, then around the pool area you have the pavilion. There’s a lot of spaces for movement with either a larger group or when relaxing in a more intimate setting.

AH&L: Your tabletop is a mix of fun prints in a classic color scheme. What elements can our readers infuse to elevate their own summer tabletops?

DE: Using various textures, like woven placemats, and colors and patterns on the textiles will definitely add depth and interest. Fresh florals are a must and elevate any tabletop; take cues from what’s seasonal and it will always look right. Colored or etched glassware is a favorite of ours as well.

AH&L: Summers in Georgia are a scorcher. What items—sips or bites—are on your party menu to keep guests feeling cool?

NL: Always Don’s famous margaritas! You don’t want anything too heavy when it’s super hot outside. Small, easy bites like homemade guacamole and chips with grilled corn salsa, crudités, prosciutto and melon skewers, mini pulled-pork sliders, antipasto bites with olives, mozzarella and tomato. And it’s not the South unless some pimento cheese is thrown in there somewhere too!

AH&L: You both have worked together for years, creating elegant interiors with a playful twist on tradition. Tell us more about your dynamic and why your design partnership works so well?

NL: From the start, our chemistry was really great. It’s hard to explain and definitely a unique and special relationship. We get along so well and really respect and admire each other so much. Also, good communication, honesty and hard work has been a foundation for us, and the rest comes naturally. It’s funny, after over 15 years, we could spend 10 hours a day together and still call each other as soon as we get in our own cars to discuss what just went on!

AH&L: What is your number one piece of advice for making a summer gathering memorable for your guests?

DE: Keep the drinks flowing! Hydration is key, right? Also, a really upbeat, fun playlist. There are hidden speakers all around the pool and on the porches at my house, so no matter where you are, you can hear the music. Those things are really all you need! mathewsfurniture.com