Kate Rheinstein Brodsky keeps a packed calendar three-fourths of the year, but when the weather starts to warm up, life slows down a bit—especially when she arrives at her home in East Hampton. “Time seems to stand still a little longer here,” says the wife, mother of three tween daughters, and founder of KRB, her eponymous boutique featuring impeccably curated antique, vintage, and one-of-a-kind furniture, art, and accessories. “It’s a much-needed change of pace.”
Kate knows firsthand about living life in the fast lane. The Los Angeles native moved to New York City to attend NYU and then completed stints with Jeffrey Bilhuber, Ralph Lauren Home, and ELLE DECOR before setting up shop just a few blocks from her pre-war apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Needing an escape from the city, she and husband Alex purchased their circa-1901 home after years of searching for the perfect location.
The house, situated on almost an acre near the beach, is just a few blocks from the homes of several family members, so when they get away, they can do so in good company. In fact, Kate says that one of her favorite things about retreating to East Hampton during the summer is having the opportunity to gather with family and friends outdoors.
“I was intent on having a variety of outdoor ‘rooms’ that serve different functions just like interior rooms do.”
-Kate Rheinstein Brodsky
“Growing up in California, we lived a very ‘alfresco’ lifestyle,” she says. “I wanted to replicate that here since that’s not very doable in the city. When we embarked on our extensive renovation, I was intent on having a variety of outdoor ‘rooms’ that serve different functions just like interior rooms do. I was also firmly against adding any other structures to the property. I love that our house is old, wonky, and a little quirky! Anything too new or too big would have taken away from that.”
With that mindset, Kate worked with Bories & Shearron Architects to create a seasonal pool “tent” in lieu of a permanent pool house. Roughly 15 feet by 9 feet in size, it consists of an all-weather awning that ties to a metal frame so that it can be deconstructed and stored during the winter months. In true California fashion, the tent is every bit as comfortable for lounging as an interior room would be—and its appointments are just as chic.
For a dining space, the architects dreamed up a pavilion featuring an allée of plane trees trained with bamboo rods to forge a canopy. A slender Fermob bistro table paired with French-inspired folding chairs stands atop the gravel floor, giving off a very Euro-Cali wine country vibe. “A ‘dining pavilion’ sounds so glamorous, doesn’t it?” laughs Kate. “I have to have a little glam—after all, I’m from L.A.!” Then she quickly adds, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, though! The dinner parties we host usually include something simple like a fresh salad, some roasted vegetables, or even takeout. As I say to my husband, I can cook, but sometimes I just choose not to. Besides, if you spread out an embroidered tablecloth and bring out festive, colored plates and glassware, no one will think twice about who made the food!”
Kate’s Outdoor Entertaining Essentials
A living, interesting centerpiece
Fresh flowers on a table are lovely, but a potted begonia stripped of its petals is much more intriguing. I also think an artful arrangement of fruits or vegetables keeps things interesting. There is nothing more fabulous looking than Romanesco.
In addition to being pretty, they are practical on breezy nights when candles are prone to blowing out. I hoard 19th-century American glass, and I based my KRB hurricane off an extra curvy one I have in my own collection.
I don’t do paper; however, I’m not above using a good-looking dish towel as a napkin if the meal is messy. Some of my favorite cloth napkins come from Houses & Parties. They have a great selection in various sizes and styles.
A “mini” bar
Not the kind you’re thinking of, but a little bar set up outside so guests (or hosts) aren’t traipsing back and forth to the house for refills. We always have wine, sparkling water, and a cocktail option or two. My husband is partial to a gin and tonic, which feels very summery, so we generally have the makings for that.
Put some pre-made goodies on a gorgeous plate. It’s just that easy! Pre-shucked oysters from your local seafood market are delicious and feel festive when displayed with all the accoutrements. Even chips and dip somehow seem special when you put them in an antique bowl set on a lacquer tray.