5 Ideas for your Outdoor Dining Area
18 Minute Read
Creating a gorgeous outdoor dining area in your garden means that you’ll have extra room that you can use throughout the warmer months – not just for dinners, but for breakfasts and lunches too. Your outdoor dining space can even be utilised as an office on a sunny day (as long as you can see the laptop screen!) or can be an extra spot for children to sit doing colouring, or messy arts and crafts.
Since there is so much potential for your space outdoor dining space, it is well worth taking the time to get it looking great. In this post, we’re looking at the things you need – as well as some of the things you’re likely to want – to have the best summer ever in your outdoor dining area.
Table and Chairs
This goes without saying – you need space for you and your guests to sit. Investing in quality outdoor dining furniture is well worth it, since you’ll have it for years. Keeping solid wood garden furniture in great nick is relatively easy, as long as you treat it at the end of each summer with the right wood finish.
For outdoor dining areas that are covered – such as in conservatories that can be closed to the elements in the winter – then you can be even more flexible with your choice of furniture, since you can potentially look at indoor tables. If this is something that could work for you, take a look at our range, which includes our bestselling hairpin tables, rustic kitchen tables with raw steel legs, and benches.
If your outdoor dining area is on the smaller side, or is part of your patio that you need to be clear, then look for metal bistro-style tables and chairs that can easily be folded away. You’ll still be able to enjoy the al fresco dining that we all love in the summer months, and with a few cushions, on sunny days you’ll be able to relax and imagine you’re somewhere in the Mediterranean, sipping a cool glass of something delicious.
It is possible to have an outdoor dining area without laying decent flooring underneath it, but you’ll be much more successful if you do. Depending on the look you want, and how much maintenance you are prepared to do each year, stone patio slabs, traditional wooden decking, composite wood decking, brick, concrete, and even gravel are options that could work for your outdoor dining area. Alternatively, artificial grass is an interesting option (real grass will die off underneath furniture, especially when the area is used heavily) and there are outdoor rugs that might suit the area – particularly if your space is partially covered overhead.
The great British weather doesn’t always play ball for us, and it is rarely perfect! But if your outdoor dining space isn’t covered, than find a way to be able to cover your outdoor dining space, so you don’t have to dash indoors if a rain shower shows up. Depending on where your outdoor dining area is situated, and the event you are hosting, you might erect a gazebo, or if you’re on a patio close to your house perhaps a retractable awning is right.
Of course, it isn’t just bad weather your family needs shelter from – in the height of summer, protection from strong sunshine is a must. A parasol, or sun shade in the style of a sail take a few minutes to put up but can provide much-needed shelter while you’re eating.
Storage for your outdoor dining area
Keeping your space uncluttered, but having everything to hand – it is a challenge we face throughout our homes. But luckily, in your outdoor dining area, things tend to be a bit simpler.
Do you really need shelves in your outdoor dining area? Well, it depends on your space and how much you’re using it – but having shelves means that you’ll be able to keep your space clear of clutter, while having everything you need to hand. Blankets rolled in baskets, extra outdoor lighting, as well as storing drinks – it just makes sense to have a few shelves, especially if your outdoor dining space is set up beneath a gazebo or pergola. Shelves might not be essential, but they certainly are great to have.
Check out our range of shelving here 👉
Wall mounted bar cupboard
If outdoor dinner parties are on the agenda at your home this summer, then you’ll almost certainly want to ensure that you have enough drinks for your guests – and popping in and out of the home is inconvenient and less sociable. Having a wall mounted bar cupboard that you can stock ahead of your parties means that you can make the most of the time with your friends and family, without needing to leave the space when the conversation is flowing.
Simple wooden boxes can be the answer to your outdoor dining area storage needs – and with the added bonus that (as long as you buy decent ones – buy nice, or buy twice definitely applies here!) they can double up as additional seating options, or as footstools when you need them. Keep them at the edge of your outdoor dining area, and use them for storing blankets, rugs, picnic accessories and even outdoor toys for children.
Since your outdoor dining area is already likely to be surrounded by flowers and bushes in your garden, you might simply need to move a few pots or tubs to make the area look gorgeous. However, we’ve thought of a few other additions to the space that you might not have thought about – let’s take a look.
We’re sure there’s not a lot we need to say to sell this idea – you, and your guests want to be comfortable, especially if your outdoor dining furniture is made from solid wood and you like to linger over drinks after dinner. If you want to be able to leave your cushions outdoors, look for waterproof ones that won’t go mouldy if they’re left outside for too long. For cushions that need putting away at the end of the evening, make sure you’ve got storage readily available – those wooden boxes might be just enough if you put a plastic bag (even a strong bin liner) on the inside of the box.
Whatever type of dining you’re hosting, having the right soundtrack sets the tone – even if it is just you, and you’re listening to a podcast while you eat lunch! Rather than listening off your phone’s speaker, or using headphones, get yourself a Bluetooth speaker. They are pretty good, and relatively inexpensive now, and having a good setup means that you’ll be able really enjoy what you’re listening to – especially if your after-dinner playlist (and perhaps a few drinks…!) sets the mood for dancing!
There are a huge number of options when it comes to lighting your outdoor dining area – and it doesn’t depend on you having electricity easily available in the space either! Wired, or plug-in lights are of course an option, but there are plenty of outdoor lighting models that are USB rechargeable, are solar powered, or are battery powered now, even if you’re setting up an outdoor dining area in the middle of nowhere, your space can be fully lit up.
Solar powered lighting used to be pretty poor, but the technology has come a long way – so check out your local lighting specialist for options. A point about safety and outdoor lighting – you’ll need your lights to be IP44 safety rated to withstand rain. If you’re not up for installing fixed outdoor lighting, you can always set the mood with fairy lights, or candles – battery powered are fine, especially if you’ve got children around.
Making the most of your outdoor dining area in the early days of spring and late into the autumn is possible if you’ve got warmth to keep you cosy. Having an abundance of fluffy blankets (maybe even large hoodie blankets!) available helps, but on the chilly days you might need a bit more if you’re going to be able to use your space without getting hypothermic. Outdoor heaters are one option, but you might prefer adding a portable fire pit, or a chiminea to your space for a bit extra cosy factor.
We might know how important insects are for the health of our gardens and the planet, but we don’t always love them around when we’re eating and drinking – and especially if we have children around that panic at the sight of them. You definitely don’t want harsh chemicals where you’re eating, so look at natural insect deterrents such as citronella coils and using citrus peels in your centrepiece, and growing plants like mint, catnip, and lavender in pots around your table to keep the space free from bugs – especially mosquitos.
We might still be at the tail end of winter as we write this post, but warmer, longer days are coming, and if you want to be able to make the most of them as soon as they arrive, then start preparing your outdoor dining area now. Find those blankets, order your Bluetooth speaker, and get your furniture sorted – we’re allowed to socialise again, so let’s get ready to make the most of it!
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