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Girls Night Out: Nicole Richie’s Guide to Entertaining Alfresco

The House of Harlow designer stages an intimate dinner party for close friends—and serves up a garden makeover to start.

One must be careful not to use the b-word around Nicole Richie. “I hate the term bohemian,” the House of Harlow 1960 designer, author, and actress confesses. So when it came to updating the backyard of the Laurel Canyon home she shares with her husband, Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden and their two children (son Sparrow, 3, and daughter, Harlow, 5), Richie plotted a course toward all things “relaxed and eclectic.” The direction resulted in a vintage-meets-industrial makeover of the Moroccan-tinged outdoor area, which she unveiled at a late-summer dinner party staged for friends including stylist Simone Harouche, Pressed Juicery co-founder Hedi Gores, and Domaine co-founder Katherine Power. And while the environs may have been new, the act of entertaining–complete with a Middle Eastern menu created by chef Jeffrey Nimer and a classic rock soundtrack (The Animals, Led Zeppelin, and Janis Joplin)–is business as usual at Richie HQ: “Our house is the one people come to, to hang,” she says.

Richie began by honing her palette. “The colors in the backyard were a bit all over the place,” she says. She settled on turquoise, yellow, and black as a unifying colorway, creating throw pillows in the shades with Sunbrella fabrics to anchor her scheme, carrying it through with accents such as CB2 Shroom Side Tables and recycled glass tumblers, and offsetting with glam touches including Jayson Home’s quirky Brass Peace Sign.

Metal school chairs from Cisco Home and steel Lyle Side Chairs from Crate & Barrel flanked the Restoration Hardware Teak Metal Basket Dining Table, adding a touch of modernity, while Persian rugs from Lawrence of La Brea were unfurled for a worldly and relaxed lounging option.

Artfully strung globe lights, rows of sparklers, and Fez Star Lanterns intermingled with Kamali Tabletop Lanterns imbued the scene with a magical ambience, while succulent arrangements designed by Inner Gardens owner Stephen Block brought in an earthy element. But for Richie, the crowning touch was a hand-painted Magic Cabin canvas teepee embellished with a California-inspired mural by artist duo Clamdiggin. “It’s the real deal,” she says.

Nimer’s gluten-free-friendly family-style menu was presented on servingware including an antique zinc platter, Kelly Wearstler’s Salone Tray, and agate cheese plates, while the table was set with Wearstler’s Mullholand Plates mixed with West Elm’s gilded flatware. The chef’s impeccably spiced offerings ranged from stuffed grape leaves to organic tabbouleh salad to baked Kibbeh balls. “You feel the love and thoughtfulness in Jeff’s food,” Richie raves.

Aug 26, 2013 – My Domaine – Written by Melissa Goldstein