The Party Pantry

Known for her effortlessly elegant personal style and inherently great taste, Danielle D. Rollins is an internationally known tastemaker and trendsetter, interior and clothing designer, author and online influencer. Below is an excerpt from her book A Home For All Seasons.

Even though this feels a little like admitting to a serious hoarding tendency, the china pantry, a.k.a. the party pantry, is quite possibly my favorite spot in the entire house. It’s honestly my dream come true: an unfussy, utilitarian space in which all that I could ever need for entertaining is stored. It’s one stop access for all my candles, crystal, china, linens, vases, baskets, trays, napkins, glassware, flatware, you name it. Most of the stuff is organized by set or color on open shelving or hanging racks, while flatware, place mats, and napkins are organized by sets in drawers, so I can see it all in one fell swoop and build a table just by walking in the room, picking and choosing elements as I go.

My thinking is that if you see it, you use it—we all know how things tucked away behind doors or in closets just end up collecting dust. Everything should have a place, and if it goes back in the same place, you always know where it is and when you need to repair it, replace it, or stock up. Running a house is pretty much about mastering supply-chain management. I’m fairly certain I was a great military logistician in a past life, because I’m very systems-oriented.

Just outside the pantry is a butler’s prep area connecting the kitchen on one side to the dining room on the other. It’s equipped with an ice maker, wine and drink fridges, and a deep sink. When I’m entertaining formally, I’ll block off the view to the hallway from the dining room with a folding screen. But whenever it’s a really large group, like at the holidays, it becomes the buffet area where I set out serving dishes so people can come and go at their own pace. The walls are covered in a blue-and-white wallpaper that matches the portieres I can draw shut to close off the china pantry—who wants to fuss with doors when you’re walking in and out with glassware and china? The color palette helps to bridge the dining room and kitchen and feels cohesive with the china pantry

When the kids are all home and we’re having dinner, setting the table is one of their chosen tasks. I always tell them there are no rules to it, and it’s brilliant because I can hear them in the china pantry going “Hmm,” as they mull over different combinations, matching their choices to whatever we’re eating, the time of year, or the way they feel. Suddenly a simple, normally throwaway act—setting the table for supper— becomes something more. A cabbage-leaf bowl or a transferware plate transforms into a vehicle for creativity, for being present, for being together, for joy. And bingo! That’s what good design can do.

Danielle’s book, A Home For All Seasons, may be purchased from DanielleDRollins.com

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