Home: My New Best Friend: Heavenly Hostess

Guest-pleasing tips from a designer with the most-est

I LOVE HAVING houseguests. I’ve hosted all kinds in all kinds of circumstances. When I lived in a studio apartment, an Academy Award-nominated pal happily slummed it on my sofa bed for nearly a month. When my husband and I rented a villa at Lake Como, we invited a coterie of friends to come and explore Italy with us. Mi casa is truly su casa.

Although we’ve lived in Philly for only a year, we’ve already had visitors from New York, DC and Miami. I pride myself on being a good hostess, but I wanted to step up my game in time for summer company. So I turned to Philadelphia native Sheila Bridges, the woman CNN and Time magazine named the best interior designer in America. While her list of design clients includes President Clinton and Tom Clancy, the rest of us can get the benefit of Sheila’s advice on her new website, The-NestMaker.com, which offers a monthly newsletter with all kinds of fabulous home-enhancing, hostess-making tips.

As a host, Sheila says, it’s all too easy to take the city you live in for granted. Guests want to see the sights, so take them for an informal walking tour. “One thing about Philadelphia that I am continually inspired by is the amazing colonial architecture, the beautiful stone houses, slate roofs, interesting facades and cobblestone streets. This has definitely influenced my own design aesthetic and classical sensibility,” Sheila says.