Entertaining & Boards by Mae
Entertaining: with Mae barber
12. 20. 16
Photographs by Anne Lee
"Inspired by the lost, old world of at-home hostessing, Mae brings beautiful curation and ease back to entertaining. Designed to be the space where friends and family gather around, Mae creates one-of-a-kind boards that exceed all expectations."
I was introduced to Mae through a mutual friend because of our common love for design. Her aesthetic instantly spoke to me with a refined and clean palette and classic warmth. Her designs truly reflect that of someone who cares deeply about their space and creating that feeling that transforms a space into a home. When I saw that Mae had another business that encompasses her talent for design with entertaining through creating specialty cheese boards I needed to learn and see more. Boards by Mae is her way of modernizing at-home entertaining by bringing socializing back in the home. We are all so accustomed to going out to dinner or meeting for drinks that we neglect how special it is to simply invite friends and family over, open a bottle of wine and enjoy a curated cheese board in the comfort of your own home. Mae allows you to build your own board with local and gourmet cheeses, meats and an assortment of accoutrements. She makes the job of being a hostess easy and creates a mood for your night that reminds you how important it is to take care of your space, embrace your kitchen and entertain. I was able to pick her brain about why she started Boards by Mae, what inspires her the most and peak at some of her most recent boards. Mae recently moved to Boston and hosted her first holiday party in her new space with her husband. Her party, that she so kindly shared with me, perfectly displays her talent as a designer and showcases her Boards. Peek her holiday party, a selection of some of her past boards and hopefully you'll be as motivated as I am to plan a cozy night at home with friends, wine and a beautiful Board!
Q & A
Where is your home base?
I was born and raised in Connecticut, followed by New York, and now my husband and I have recently moved to Boston.
What led you to start Boards by Mae?
When I moved into my first New York City studio, I was working late hours and it was always easier, although less kind on my bank account, to throw together a cheese board for dinner to wind down from the day. The more I did it, the more I began to enjoy playing around with different flavors, accoutrement combinations, and pairings. I started to get asked by friends and family friends to make larger boards for gatherings and parties and it really evolved from there.
What inspires you the most?
- Architecture, specifically the work of John Pawson
- When the city is silent on Sunday mornings
- My father's architectural woodworking workshop
- Textures, pallets, and paint swatches
- Small businesses
Can you share a bit about your story and what inspired your interest "by the lost, old world of at home hostessing?"
I was always fascinated by the traditional hostess. It might be the Connecticut in me, but I love the idea of planning, grocery shopping, and prepping all week for a weekend gathering of family and friends in your home. I feel like this has been lost in the modern age. Especially among my younger generation who would rather meet at a bar for happy hour than come over to someone's home or apartment after work for food and drinks. I like to think that Boards can bring back that sense of at home hostessing, but with so much less effort, for the modern hostess, because whether it's a studio apartment, or a sprawling estate, the comfort in entertaining at home is like no other.
I love the concept of your boards and bringing people together in someone’s home. Loving your space is such an important part of life for me and the whole concept of The Interior, so I was especially interested in your boards. How does the process work?
Absolutely. It's funny, because I feel like since I started doing Boards I've really taken more pride in my home and loving my spaces that I create. I like for the Boards to be a part of the home and it's landscape. As you can see, it never looks stuffy or catered, but more of a work of love. As for the process, it always starts with who the guests are. What are they expecting, where are they most comfortable, and where will they gather? You want your guests to be comfortable and feel at home, so I always set up my Board wherever they will be. I then layout about the Boards (quantities vary depending on the group size), and start layering all the cheeses, meats and fixings. The idea is that once your Board is set up, you are then done for the night. The cheese can sit out for hours, allowing your guests to feel relaxed and at ease, and not uncomfortable with you buzzing around them all night refilling their plate. But keep the wine pouring, of course.
Do you have a favorite board you’ve created?
That's a tough one. They're all so different, but ONE of my favorites was for interior designers Stewart-Schafer and floral extordinatoes Putnam & Putnam. They were having Friday night drinks in Brooklyn and I created a Mediterranean summer evening board for them that I really connected with. It included some French cheeses, Italian meats and produce, and olive oil crostini.
Since you’re a fellow interior designer what’s your design style in a few words?
When a traditionalist with an eye for details and craftsmanship meets a modernist with minimalist tendencies.