Chic summer tableware can be cheap, says Stefan Beckman, owner of the hip new SoHo furniture shop Property and a stylist for Calvin Klein Home and Banana Republic's ad campaigns. "Summer's fun -- not serious. We went through that Shabby Chic thing where everything was white, gray, or beige," he explains. "That's boring and safe." With an afternoon and a $200 budget, Beckman sets us a lively table for six.
"There's color everywhere," he begins, flipping through bright rubber place mats at Bed Bath & Beyond. "In fashion, in furniture -- it's happening." He takes six ($1.29 each), plus three citronella candles ($6.99 each), a chips-and-dip tray ($9.99 -- "tacky, but necessary"), and a white ice bucket ($4.99 -- "it's a good balance"). At Fishs Eddy, he adds six skinny glasses ($1.50 each -- "perfect for summer drinks") and three yellow saltcellars ($3.95 each).
"I've found ice buckets, tissue holders, flip-flops . . ." Beckman says, dragging us, dubious, to 14th Street. American Value Center has a wacky, lemon-shaped candle ($4.99; "Go overboard!"). Dee & Dee's good for freezer pops ($1 each -- "This might be about popsicles, not flowers").
At Pearl River, he buys pink chopsticks "instead of forks?" ($2.50 for twenty). Sturdy yellow plastic plates are a find at Crate & Barrel ($2.95 each). A group of clear place mats is irresistible, and, he says, "we can layer them" ($3.95 each). A quick stop at Macy's turns up hot-pink napkins ($3.99 each) and a stand with 24 pieces of flatware ($30).
Now the only question is what to serve. "The best summer foods are colorful," Beckman muses. "Watermelon, corn on the cob. I'll need some very geometric crackers . . ."
Bed Bath & Beyond, 620 Sixth Ave., at 19th St. (212-255-3550); Fishs Eddy, 889 Broadway, at 19th St. (212-420-9020); American Value Center, 22 W. 14th St. (212-627-1555); Dee & Dee, 22 W. 14th St. (212-243-5621); Pearl River Mart, 277 Canal St. (212-431-4770); Crate & Barrel, 650 Madison Ave., at 59th St. (212-308-0011); Macy's (212-695-4400).
Picks of the Week
Bottega Veneta's fabulously sharp things are about half off: Bags are $160-$700; sandals are $160-$240; clothes are $300-$750. 635 Madison Ave., near 60th St. (212-371-5515); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 10-6 (till 7 6/12-6/17), Thurs. till 7, Sat. 11-6; 6/12-6/24.
Vivienne Westwood is taking 70 percent off sexy men's and women's spring clothes, now $20-$1,000. 71 Greene St. (212-334-5200); A.E., M.C., V.; Thurs.-Sat. noon-6, Sun. 1-5; 6/15-6/18.
Stuart Weitzman's sharp, urban shoes are on sale: 30 percent off the first pair, 40 off the next, etc. (originally $175-$275). 625 Madison Ave., near 59th St. (212-750-2555); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 10-6:30, Sat. till 6, Sun. noon-5; 6/12-6/30.
Tahari's classic work-friendly suits, dresses, and knits are on sale for 60 to 75 percent off, most under $200. 261 W. 36th St., second floor (212-947-8748); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon., Tues., Thurs. 10-7, Wed. 8-6, Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-3; 6/12-6/17.
Frette and Ralph Lauren linens are about 70 percent off, mostly under $60. 24 W. 40th St., first floor; A.E., M.C., V.; Tues.-Wed. 9-6:30, Thurs. till 7:30, Fri. till 6, Sat. 10-4; 6/13-6/17.
Pixie Yates's cute, girlish spring samples are half off, from $20 for tanks to $100 for sequined dresses. Sizes P-L. 225 Lafayette St., Suite 511 (212-431-3150); cash only; Wed.-Fri. 10-6; 6/14-6/16.