Impromptu Party - Loft on Vine

Friday night. Summer in Seattle. Julie's friends are in town from Paris. Juggling a never ending stream of calls, followed by a quick pass through the market and voila! Within hours, we are party ready.

What could be better than a fabulous party in a loft just blocks away from the Pike Place Market? 4,000 square feet of splendor with an eclectic art collection, a view of Mount Rainer, Elliot Bay, West Seattle, and the Port of Seattle. The guest list--comprised of artists, patrons of the arts, tech gurus, and yes, a nun--compelling and eclectic--just like the space.

Back in the day, this was not the desirable neighborhood it is now. At the time of purchase, it's not a stretch to think some days...the homeless outnumbered residents. The owner, an architect by trade, purchased two adjoining units in the building and tore down the wall to create this luxe living space. And fortunately, the neighborhood followed suit. Galleries, restaurants, and condos sprung up, creating a trendy neighborhood strategically situated near the downtown core and just blocks away from the waterfront.

Originally a large open space, an inventive design maintains the airy loft feel. The back end of the unit has been divided to create living spaces--a guest room, office, and entertainment room. Above, the master bedroom and a small seating area face a large bank of windows, providing a perfect vantage for ferry-watching on Elliot Bay. An avid art collector, the loft's expansive walls serve as a rotating gallery for the owner's collection.

The building across the street. Rain gutters have been turned into flower plantings.

Entrance to the loft. A feast for the senses with artistic touches incorporated throughout the space.

Pass the kitchen and enter large open space with a floor-to-ceiling bank of windows stretching three stories. Surprising touches like the carved wood chair with a leopard seat are scattered throughout the space, creating a touch of whimsy and propel the visual treasure hunt.

A large pantry houses party-ready elements including plates, platters, and vases. The dining table has been turned into a buffet with cheese, charcuterie, and pickled veggies. In the background, you'll find a professional kitchen with a built-in grill and hood, complete with warming drawers for large-scale entertaining.

A view from the deck includes Elliot Bay, and when the weather is right, a stunning look at Mount Rainier (the tallest mountain in the lower '48).

Guests begin to arrive. Shot from a lima bean-shaped seating area, jutting out above the buffet table.

A better look at the features here: grand piano, rock garden, and large-scale art installations.

An expansive of wall showcases more pieces in the collection. Notice the images span the space from top to bottom. The exposed beam provides both structure for the second floor, and a vehicle for lighting.

Original art pieces includes a funky series of photography. This piece is prominently featured, just off the kitchen.

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Entertaining on the fly is tricky. The objective? Great food...with the least amount of hassle.

Impromptu party success hinges on a few key elements:

1. A well-stocked pantry

2. A handful of easy, yet satisfying recipes

What's in my pantry?

- Crackers & gourmet chips
- Olives (green, black, and stuffed)
- Pesto
- Tapenade
- Seasoned nuts (Sahale's are great)
- Dried fruit
- Biscotti
- Smoked salmon
- Sundried tomatoes in oil
- Cous cous, orzo, tabouli
- Garbonzo beans
- Olive oil
- Seasoned salt
- Wasabi peas
- Red & white wine
- Champagne
- Beer

1 hour and need food fast. What do I serve?

- Hummus

- Fig and Olive Tapenade
Serve plain or alongside a creamy goat cheese, if you have it.

- Crackers or pita chips

- Olives
I like these lemon-stuffed olives

- Seasoned nuts
Sahale's Valdosta pecans or Tuscan almonds are two of my favorites

- Orzo, cous cous, or tabouli salad
Top cooked orzo, cous cous or tablouli with a citrus vinaigrette.
Add chopped olives and sundried tomatoes.
Throw in some fresh basil, if you have it.

- Chocolate-dipped biscotti
Melt some chocolate, dip the biscotti ends 1/2 way.
Got a little more time? Before the chocolate sets, roll chocolate-dipped biscotti in crushed nuts.