“Is this the new bistro in Bolton Hill?” questioned a few half-serious people strolling by Jake Boone’s home on the evening of his “Welcome Spring” party last year.
It’s no surprise they mistook the party tent in Boone’s tiny front yard for the outdoor seating area of a charming restaurant. The tent, which provided extra mingling room for Boone’s more than 250 guests, was actually more like an awning, extending from the front of Boone’s townhouse to the sidewalk. By draping gold swags across the front of the house and adding dim rope-lighting, Boone created an intimate outdoor room complete with self-serve bar and cafe tables adorned with rich mocha-colored linens.
“I wanted the tent to be whimsical and unexpected,” says Boone, a floral designer and real estate agent. “It was intended to be a fresh, mellow space that made people feel welcome.”
Inside Boone’s house, the living room’s deep red walls were the inspiration for a lush floral arrangement that occupied center stage. “Flowers were everywhere!” remarks guest and fellow floral designer Andrea Stieff. “The floral arrangement in the living room was so large we had to circle around it like rotary!”
By using a variety of flowers including hydrangea, roses, viburnum, peonies, sweet peas, orchids and lilacs, Boone created subtly different moods for each area of the party.
“Things just stepped up in elegance as guests moved through the house. The warmth of the living room matched the feel of the dining room, but then things stepped back down to casual again in the garden,” says Boone.
Although Boone created the floral arrangements himself, he enlisted the help of Carlton & Co. to prepare the food. Servers presented hors d’oeuvres of jumbo shrimp, petite Maryland soft-shell crabs and fresh sea scallops wrapped in bacon.
“The food was wonderful,” says Boone. “People couldn’t turn around without having a crab cake under their nose.”
Whether entering through the tent or via a footpath that led into the garden at the back of the house, guests, whose ranks included Bob and Lola Jones and Sascha Wolhandler, gathered in the dining room for a buffet of sliced beef tenderloin, jumbo lump Maryland crab cakes, petite grilled lamb chops and penne pasta with toasted pine nuts and basil.
Boone had removed his dining room table and lined the far wall, which is mirrored, with one long narrow table. In addition to the overflowing platters, the buffet was adorned with cherubs, urns, garland, vases of flowers, candelabras and a 4-foot-tall statue of Atlantis.
The attention to detail was again evident in Boone’s walled garden, which featured a variety of blooming plants and carefully placed cocktail tables covered in subtle blue and white linens. Candles and smaller floral arrangements completed the setting’s intimate feel.
“Jake knows how to do a garden. It was an orgy of the senses,” says Stieff.
Adds Boone: “It was such a long, cold winter I wanted to have a party that would get everyone warmed up and ready for spring.” Mission accomplished.
Catering Carlton & Co., Baltimore, 410-484-6110
Flowers Jake Boone, Baltimore, 410-435-2000
Tent Loane Bros. Inc., Baltimore, 410-686-9200
Linens Table Toppers, Baltimore, 410-769-9339