How To Make Your Outdoor Gathering All The More Enchanting


Clovebrook Farm


In his own words, ceramicist and author Christopher Spitzmiller shares his love for his prized outdoor staple—and grants you permission to bring those precious pieces to the table.

Fifteen years ago, when I purchased my home, there was no garden to speak of. But after a decade of improvements, and with the grounds finally well-established, I find that so much of our time is spent outside. One of my workhorses is a vintage apple cider pressing table that first came into my life—like many things with both style and practicality—through my mother. It quickly took on a new life as a portable garden table.

We’re serial hosts at Clove Brook Farm, and in fair weather, we entertain outside whenever possible. For special occasions, we’ll move the table to whichever garden room is in its prime. We’ve used it for a multitude of celebrations: a Fourth of July lunch in the front yard beneath the shade of a maple tree, in the Dovecote Garden programmed as a bar for a summer cocktail party and an evening dinner in our Sunken Garden when the Casablanca lilies are blooming. For that occasion, we styled the table to conjure a garden fantasy right out of John Singer Sargent’s painting, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.

The roving cider press table appears in a number of different incarnations throughout my new book, A Year At Clove Brook Farm, which I hope will inspire people to get outside and seize the abundance offered by each season. There are no rules to outdoor living: I use my best dishes, glassware and silver. (No paper plates or napkins here!) If you don’t have a cider table, use what you have dressed in an interesting cloth. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to bring precious items outdoors to enjoy. Using beautiful things in the garden makes an already enchanting setting all the more magical.

For more inspiration, tune into our DesignTV segment where Spitzmiller chats about the loving renovation of his bucolic country home, Clove Brook Farm.