“Chic people, glamorous places, and stylish things.” If that doesn’t sound like the recipe for a fabulous soirée, we don’t know what does. For gracious host and interior designer Mark D. Sikes, whom Reese Witherspoon tapped to design her Draper James store in Nashville, they’re also the inspiration and three organizing principles for his popular lifestyle blog. Mark’s aptly named new book, Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style, takes his chic, glamorous, and stylish spirit even further, showcasing 15 of his favorite design projects. Grab an iconic American cocktail, pull up a rattan chair, and join us as Mark, our favorite aficionado of all-American style, shares everything from his tips for creating a home that’s warm and welcoming for guests to his must-have tabletop products.
What three words would you use to describe your entertaining style?
Easy, casual, and relaxed.
What is your preferred way to entertain?
In the garden, with a small group of close friends, light bites, and simple drinks.
Think about your dream dinner party. Who’s there?
I’m dreaming about a table filled with my favorite style icons: Jackie Kennedy, John Kennedy, Jr., President Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Hubert de Givenchy, Cary Grant, Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, and Oscar de la Renta.
Batik linens, Iznik plates and bowls, and cobalt glassware highlight this tabletop designed by Mark for House Beautiful.
You’ve designed so many fabulous homes. Is there a design element that you recommend to all of your clients?
Antique blue and white ceramics.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?
My book party in New York City at John Rosselli Antiques. It was a beautiful evening filled with friends, peers, design icons, and loved ones.
What party in history would you most like to go back in time to attend?
Truman Capote’s Black And White Ball.
Fill in the blank, you know you’ve been to a Mark D. Sikes party when…
You’ve had too many glasses of rosé and too many chocolate chip cookies.
Mark uses plants and flowers to create a welcoming entry. Photo: Amy Neunsinger
Getting Tipsy with Mark D. Sikes
What are your tips for designing a home that works well for entertaining?
Make sure you have lots of chairs and multiple seating areas — they make for better conversation. Indoor rooms that are connected to outdoor spaces and big kitchens are also great for parties.
You describe your designs as timeless. What are some “timeless” entertaining pieces that you think every party host should have in their home?
Big white platters and bowls, votive candle holders, lots of candles, and vases in all sizes.
Mark’s Thanksgiving-themed table looks fresh and elegant with crisp white linens, white pumpkins, and mercury glass . Photo: Lonny
A home’s entry is the first thing party guests see. What are some things people can do to make their entry appear welcoming?
A large arrangement of flowers and candlelight.
What’s the one thing people can do to their entertaining space right now to give it a fresh and current look?
Skirt your dining table with a beautiful fabric.
Mark’s dining table is a showcase for his favorite art and design books.
I’ve read that you don’t use your dining room for dining. Where do you hold your dinner parties?
We usually set up a buffet in the kitchen and let people perch anywhere they like, although everyone always ends up in the garden.
During the cooler months, Mark switches out the sky-blue cushions on his garden furniture for neutral ivory ones and adds cozy throws. Photo: One Kings Lane
You have such a great eye for outdoor decor. What are some tips for freshening up one’s outdoor spaces?
Change out your cushions to a different palette, and add new pillows and throws.
Playing Favorites with Mark D. Sikes
Made of terracotta clay, Astier de Villate’s ceramics are Mark’s dinnerware of choice.
Dinnerware? Astier de Villatte
Flatware? French antique bone
Cocktail napkins? Hemstitch linen
Powder room candle? Santa Maria Novella
Powder room soap? Santa Maria Novella
Caterer? Lulu Powers
Tall and elegant, myrtle topiaries make lovely host and hostess gifts. Photo: Helen Norman
Host or hostess gift to give? Myrtle topiaries
Online shopping resources? Mr. Porter, Net-a-Porter, Amazon, and 1stDibs