Enjoy the last bit of summer—from your own backyard with an MCM picnic! While vacations are at the top of everyone’s minds this time of year, a getaway doesn’t always require packing up the car or boarding a plane. Kicking back to enjoy your home is every bit as important as the work you pour into it year round.
So, why not take a break to reflect on your home’s progress (or potential) with a backyard picnic?
Here are a few pointers for a stylish and tasty afternoon event that’s just a few steps beyond the patio. There’s so much to enjoy in the spaces that are closest to us, so make the most of the sunny vibes by getting outside!
Sun-Drenched Style for an MCM Picnic
Hosting a backyard picnic is a cheerful way to welcome summer with family and friends; it can also be an opportunity to break out the vintage collectibles.
If you’re looking for a picnic basket, try searching for popular brands such as Hawkeye or Redmon. They’re often hiding at thrift stores and antique malls. If you’re lucky, they might even come with original plates, cups and utensils.
Yes, paper plates can work in a pinch, but a picnic is an opportunity to add mid-century flair.
If melamine is your “thing,” seek out brands such as Melmac or Lenox for hundreds of patterns and colors. Enamelware is a great way to create a more elevated look. Iconic brands such as Catherineholm and OTO are excellent for adding fun color combinations and vintage charm to your picnic setting.
Choose and Design a Location
Whether you prepare an array of snacks for a small group or opt for potluck offerings, styling a cozy spot on the lawn can add a dash of magic to a backyard gathering.
Give these styling suggestions a try as you plan your own afternoon retreat:
- Use a large, colorful blanket as your base. A queen-sized blanket can accommodate four to six people, while a vintage tablecloth makes an excellent ground cover for two to four guests. If you are concerned about grass stains, place another blanket or plastic drop cloth on the ground before adding your top layer.
- Pack compartment plates, mugs, utensils and colorful cloth napkins into a vintage basket for a proper summer lunch al fresco.
- Incorporate color with a variety of new and vintage serving pieces. Summertime calls for vibrant, punchy colors, so go bold and bright to keep the mood fresh and festive.
- Use a serving tray. Having a solid surface for cups and pitchers keeps your drinks in balance, despite any surrounding movements on an uneven surface.
- Bring a vase for a distinct touch within your setup. A modest clipping from your landscaping goes a long way to make your picnic feel extra-special and connected to the outdoors.
- Set the mood to music with a portable speaker … or bring a compact record player to spin a few vinyl favorites in true vintage fashion.
Bold front door colors are synonymous with Mid Century Modern homes, but finding a way to add seasonal flair to a door in a noncompeting way can sometimes be a challenge. A festive, modern wreath is an excellent way to add a handmade touch to your entryway.
Keep it modern. Leave one-third to one-half of the wreath frame uncovered for a simplified, structural look.
Test fit. Before wiring anything into place, loosely compose your items to see which configurations work best. Then, take a photo for reference.
Choose a feature. Choose items for the focal point of your wreath. Make them your center point and build out from there. Break the rules of symmetry for a modern design approach!
Incorporate color. Pairing layers of lush greenery with vivid, tropical elements can be an exciting way to represent summer. Use accent items that match the color of your door for a coordinated effect.
Prepare the surface. Before hanging your wreath, give your door a good wipe-down with warm water and a soft cloth. Use a damage-free, clear, adhesive hook to safely secure your wreath.
Backyard Bites for your MCM Picnic
A picnic just isn’t a picnic without a spread of delicious, easy-to-eat items. Chilled salads, small sandwiches, cookies and frozen treats are a few of my favorite picnic foods. Give these fun and easy recipes a try for an element of nostalgic flavor on your menu:
Trim sandwich crusts for a tidy, “modernist” bite.
Ham Salad Sandwiches
Yield: 12 mini-sandwiches
2 lbs. smoked boneless ham (fully cooked and cut into large dice)
1½ cups mayonnaise
¼ cup dill relish
1 tsp. coarse-ground black pepper
12 slices whole-grain wheat bread
Place the ham in a food processor and grind it to a fine, crumbled texture. Transfer the ham to medium bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, relish and black pepper until they are evenly combined (refrigerate if you won’t be eating right away). Spread about ½ cup of the mixture onto a slice of bread. Top with lettuce and another slice of bread. Slice the sandwich in half to create two sandwiches. Repeat this process for the remaining sandwich spread. Serve chilled.
Mango Margarita Pops
Yield: 10–12 pops
2 cups mango nectar
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into large dice
½ cup simple syrup
½ cup lime juice
1/3 cup reposado tequila
2 Tbs. Cointreau
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Pulse a few seconds to macerate the fruit. Pour into silicone ice pop mold and insert wooden sticks. Freeze overnight for best results.
For more of Robert Maurer’s modernist ideas, check out Mid Mod Spring Cleaning and stay tuned for his column, The Vibe, in our latest issue. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!