Hunting and gathering: Mary Margaret Singer assembles eclectic elements for an easygoing gathering

Photos by Sara Essex Bradley

With a house full of boys and dogs, Mary Margaret Singer and her husband Wyn have mastered the art of making casual and comfortable look cool and collected. And that laid-back spirit extends to their entertaining style.

“We love to have friends over, but never for a formal dinner party,” Mary Margaret says. “It’s always a one-dish wonder—a gumbo or a soup or something like that. And we like to entertain around the kitchen island with a cheese board and a whole bunch of wine.”

The Singers’ home in the Webb Park neighborhood is much more party-friendly than it was before this family made it their own four years ago. Originally a two-bedroom, two-bath structure, the house was expanded and now accommodates a crowd.

“This is a good house for the flow of humans,” Mary Margaret says. “We recently had 28 seventh-graders and their parents here before an event, and I was amazed at how well it worked.”

Mary Margaret set the table for a casual fall gathering by combining antlers her two sons and husband found in the woods with her Vietri dinnerware—“I don’t have fancy china,” she says—and antique brass candlesticks that were a gift from her grandfather, who was an antiques dealer. The reclaimed elm pedestal dining table, which came from Mary Margaret’s store Lamps & Lighting, is left bare except for a fringed runner and woven natural placemats.

All throughout the dining room are reminders of Mary Margaret’s penchant for prettying up everyday items. Hanging above the table is a chandelier from Lamps & Lighting that she says she “zhuzhed” with a little gold leaf and some strategically placed crystal baubles; in the corners are lamps with new custom shades.

“My mom can decorate her house with her eyes closed,” Mary Margaret says. “And her mom worked in an antique shop. I think we all have always just liked to play with that stuff.”

Even the Singers’ famous cheese board get-togethers begin with items Mary Margaret has collected. “I buy a tiny piece of pottery from everywhere I go,” she explains, “and therefore I can pull together a cheese board very quickly. Instant party!”


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