Style Expert

A Modern Rustic Outdoor Feast

Thanksgiving gets a modern update at Brian Patrick Flynn’s new mountain cabin. Combining elements of rustic wood outdoor furnishings with mid-century forms, Brian sets the deck for a cozy and inviting outdoor feast.

Shop all of Brian’s autumn outdoor picks here.

Let me tell you what I did not enjoy about childhood Thanksgivings: pretending to be interested in football while a half dozen grown men cheered and jeered at the television for three hours. Year after year, the routine was the same: once November came and outdoor playtime with friends was out of the question, I was whisked away to the house of some friend or relative, only to be crammed around a crowded table or squished onto tiny, cramped sofas where super-tall kids didn’t fit. By age 14, I promised myself that when I was a grown-up, I’d make Thanksgiving at my own house comfortable for everyone—a cozy and convivial environment where football screamers would be relegated to a confined room, away from everyone else.

Fast forward 23 years, and I made good on that promise. After buying a three-story log construction house in the mountains, I spent the summer feverishly racing against the cooler days ahead, replacing windows with doors, swapping out broken fans for new ones, installing a new heating system and creating a living-and-dining layout that would make my future dinner guests feel right at home. Using a neutral color scheme of black and charcoal peppered with autumnal tones like pumpkin and olive green, I transformed what was once a tired living space into a warm and welcoming gathering spot for dining, relaxing and having conversations that don’t include the “F” word (football).

This dining area comfortably seats 10 thanks to its mix of molded-plastic host chairs and rows of four black Eames-style wire side chairs on either side. All chairs are black, which is my go-to color for anything seasonal, while the area rug boasts a mix of beige and taupe. Wait, huh? Yeah, I know most people don’t think of Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve as occasions to deck the halls with black and beige, but a neutral palette of taupe-y tones really does create the perfect backdrop for layering in festive autumnal shades (orange and olive), Christmas hues (red and green) or wintry metallics. Oh, and did you notice how the ceiling fan is actually nice to look at? Yeah, I’m not used to using the term “ceiling fan” and phrases like “nice to look at” in the same sentence, but this one is sculptural, with a vintage-industrial appeal that makes it work.

Any time you’re furnishing an outdoor space, it’s super-important to consider the color and vibe of the rooms that lead out onto it. If the color schemes clash, you’ll be looking from the indoors out, or vice versa, onto a color catastrophe. The interior of my great room is ultra-white, which complements just about any adjoining color schemes. But what really blows me away is how spacious the outdoor dining area looks against the “insane” backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains. Any time you’re working around a single focal point, no matter how grand, it’s important to choose furniture that won’t compete with it, but instead enhance it. Here, streamlined mid-century chairs and a sleek, industrial-modern dining table give guests a place to enjoy the meal while soaking up the stellar views.

For the rest of the Thanksgiving shenanigans, I went all-out to maximize the gathering spot beside the dining area. Using the fireplace as my starting point, I added a pair of roomy charcoal loveseats, anchored by an industrial coffee table, rustic end tables and mercury glass lamps. Notice how there is no TV? Yep, that ensures that there will be no football screaming at Mr. Flynn’s Thanksgiving soirée!

A grounding area rug in orange, taupe, white and olive stripes grounds the seating group, accented by orange burlap and green-and-white-patterned throw pillows, plus solid and plaid throw blankets. To keep the entire area warm and cozy, a pair of modern outdoor heaters are wheeled in whenever needed. And for a modern spin on old-fashioned rocking chairs, I planted molded-plastic rockers on the porch. Groovy. Now that the design is done, I’ll take credit for not only the fast-tracked decorating plan, but for the Thanksgiving feast I will pick up in town, then plate to look like I made it myself. Hey, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

Brian Patrick Flynn, producer/designer

See all of Brian’s amazing Styleboards here.



+ Leave a comment

  1. allison goode-johnson

    Beautiful story, beautiful home. Happy Holidays

  2. Aw, thank you for your lovely comment! Brian Patrick Flynn is an absolute joy, isn’t he? Happy holidays to you as well, and thanks for reading!

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