Nate Berkus’ design style certainly appears high-end, but his outdoor party checklist is astoundingly simple: classic barbecue fare, casual decor and disposable dishware.
“I’m totally fine with paper plates,” Berkus, artistic advisor for high-end appliance line LG Studio, told PEOPLE at a recent breakfast he hosted in New York. “Summer entertaining is about doing things in an easy way.”
The event, which celebrated the latest suite of sleek appliances he helped design — including a side-by-side built-in fridge, single and double wall ovens and gas cooktops — also put into practice some of Berkus’ best warm-weather tricks.
Custom table linens, for example, with a surprisingly affordable twist. He suggests running to a local fabric store —like JoAnn’s, where he has a line — and simply snapping up a yard or two of whatever catches your eye. “A yard of fabric can make 12 napkins,” said Berkus, 44. “Take them to the dry cleaner, have them cut into equal squares and seamed, and you have custom napkins.”
And when it comes to centerpieces, Berkus — who’s married to fellow interior design star Jeremiah Brent, 31, and has a one-year-old daughter, Poppy — suggests simply repurposing items you already have around your house, like knickknacks sitting on your bookshelves or bedside tables.
To help keep your cool on the day of the bast, Berkus recommends planning ahead as much as possible.
If you’re hosting a pool party — which they often do for Poppy’s playmates — “have your beach towels washed and folded and set up in stacks so that people can grab them outside,” Berkus said. Another smart poolside trick: “We actually went to Target and bought 30 pairs of inexpensive flip flops and we have them in a basket by the door.”
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Berkus even has ways to make sunscreen look chic. “I like having a bar cart outside for entertaining. I stack it with sun care, towels on the bottom, sunglasses, magazines for people to read by the pool,” Berkus said. “The idea is whatever somebody is going to reach for, it’s there.”