Date: November 1, 2023 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek |
Escape to your backyard for an easy-to-recreate autumn scene
Walk down the wooded pathway to Charlie Gropetti and Todd Smith’s backyard escape and you’ll likely feel as though you are miles into an Arkansas forest. “The idea was to feel far out but not actually be far from the house,” Charlie says. As the owners and creative minds behind national home décor brand Porch View Home, busy schedules often leave them with little time for lengthy vacations, making this at-home retreat even more alluring. The dense thicket consists of a circle of plantings on their property outside Vilonia. “It’s the gathering spot when we have parties,” Charlie says. “I think that’s because it has a very sheltering feel. You are enveloped in trees here and feel safe.”
For this chilly fall night, Arkansas-made—or found—items come together to set the scene. From locally produced honey to a handcrafted wooden ladle, each piece seems to have a story or local connection, as do their vintage and antique serving pieces. Keeping the focus on the setting and fellowship with friends, they prepared a meal of simple seasonal favorites, each with its own twist. Read on for the details to recreate the setting in your own space.
Vintage wicker chairs, borrowed from the front porch, encircle the firepit, offering a comfortable spot for guests to relax.
Charlie and Todd are advocates for shopping your home first to create a beautiful party. Their collection of brown transferware was the starting point for this gathering. It was mixed with mustard-hued pottery, copper pieces, and amber bottles that double as vases for foraged branches. Sycamore leaves and pine needles—gathered from nearby—dot the table, adding to the woodlands feel.
All in the Mix
Medium-size pumpkins that have been hollowed out hold store-bought soup, a half-and-half mix of pumpkin and butternut squash. Sun-dried tomato tortillas cut into the shape of leaves make for a delicious seasonal garnish. After savory snacks, a naked spiced layer cake makes for a simple, crowd-pleasing dessert.
“When it looks pretty and tastes good, you’ve got a winning combo.”
“We always cook s’mores and wanted to try something more elevated. This is so simple and delicious!” Charlie says of the skewered pear treats. For starters, ripe pears were halved and hollowed out using a melon baller. While the toppings are limitless, Charlie and Todd filled theirs with a mixture of gorgonzola cheese and locally made Lambrecht’s Sweet and Spicy Glazed Pecans, topped with a drizzle of Arkansas Hot Honey. The pears were skewered and warmed over the fire for a few minutes before serving. Charlie notes these pair well with bourbon, brandy, or a glass of white wine.