Prep Your Home For Derby Like a PRO

Preparing for Derby guests can be a laborious task, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We asked a few of our favorite local designers to share their top tips for getting your home ready for the first Saturday in May.

Barry Wooley & Jude Loew

Barry Wooley Designs

835 E. Main St.



Barry: Derby season often means having out-of-town guests, so make sure your guest bedroom is all done up with nice linens and beautiful bedding. Any little touches to make your guests feel welcome will be much appreciated. Also, do not stress yourself out about decorating for a Derby party. Keep things simple with some floral arrangements. If you use lilies and red roses you can use the arrangements for both Oaks and Derby day!

Jude: There’s nothing I find more enjoyable than drinking a good cocktail on a beautiful patio, so my (advice is) to spruce up your outdoor entertaining space with some nice patio furniture, some potted plants, maybe even a fire pit. My second tip is simple: Stock your bar. It’s Derby season, so a nice bottle of bourbon is a MUST. VT

Natalie Officer

Natalie O Design

1000 Swan St., Suite 4



Create a space for ladies to hang hats if you are entertaining on Derby Day; perhaps on a wall in your dining room or even on exterior fence posts in the yard. ​The combination will create a beautiful Derby display for the party and give (guests) a rest from the neck-tiring exercise of the ​day.

Fresh and abundant floral arrangements throughout your home are a stunning way to step up your game and are always enjoyed by friend​s​. But, no need to be so “Derby” about it. ​Choosing textured and interesting containers gives an immediate update to your home. You can even use your own containers. ​

Roll up the rugs, open the windows and put out the linens for a fresh feel. Pull up your traditional rugs, and put something fresh and durable down for the foot traffic. A nice jute or sisal will go a long way with limited expense. Put out as many fresh white linens as you can. Rain or shine they will be useful from the front door to the powder room and for buffet-style meals.

Christopher Welsh

Christopher Welsh Designs

9500 Springmont Place



If you’re entertaining over Derby weekend, get all of your grandmother’s old silver out and start polishing; the same goes for the crystal stemware that lives on a high shelf in a cabinet most of the year. Derby weekend is the perfect time to pull out all the stops and serve your friends in a little grander style than the usual weekend gathering. Nothing says “welcome to our Derby party” better than two dozen long-stemmed red roses in a silver pitcher.

While you’re sprucing up the guest bedrooms for out-of-town guests, be sure to set out a carafe with a drinking glass on each nightstand along with a basket containing a few bottles of (water) nearby. A small, low vase with a single blossom in it is also a nice touch at each bedside. In addition, a stack of local books about architecture, history or local neighborhoods makes a good alternative for guests before bed instead of watching television. (By the way, I always recommend to my clients that they spend a night or two in each of their guest bedrooms just to see what the “guest experience” is really like.)

Make a trip to your favorite country ham dealer ASAP and pick up a half pound of thin-sliced country ham for each of your guests to hand to them – along with your favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe – as they depart after the festivities are over. Wrapped tightly in Saran wrap, placed in a ZipLoc bag and then in a thermal food bag or with a well-frozen small ice pack, the take-away gift will fit easily into a carry-on or into checked luggage and need no refrigeration for several hours. It’s the perfect remembrance of your guests’ visit when they arrive back home.