There’s no better time than right now to be dining outdoors. The weather is warm, the days are long, and it’s the perfect excuse to get together with friends and family. When you consider current social distancing recommendations, outdoor dining is probably the best way to spend time with those not in your immediate family circle.
The most important thing to know is that an outdoor dining area can work in almost any space. As long as you have a bit of square footage, a vision, and a budget, the outdoor dining area of your dreams is possible!
For Your Consideration
What makes for a perfect outdoor dining experience? Well, that really all depends on you!
Here are a few questions to chew on:
- What are your style preferences?
- How much space are you working with?
- Whom do you intend to dine with, both regularly and on special occasions?
In Outer Space
First, you need to figure out where you want your dining area to be located. Do you have a front porch that’s underutilized? Maybe your backyard is crying out for a bit of decor and visual interest. Even if you live in an apartment, a balcony can just as easily be your outdoor dining area. Wherever you choose to put it, remember that it’s not so much about the size of the space as it is about your dining set’s proportions.
Even if you’re only working with a handful of square feet, you can still make your dining space shine. It’s all about a design that utilizes the space to its fullest potential and choosing furniture that is perfectly proportioned to your dining area.
Cramming a large rectangular table onto your balcony will make the space look cramped and unwelcoming. Conversely, a tiny circular table in one corner of an expansive backyard can seem a little sparse. Work with the space you have! It’s less about the size than it is about the way you use it.
Design with Intention
Think about what you want and what you need from your outdoor dining space. Above, we talked about the number of diners you expect at your table. In all likelihood, that number will vary based on the occasion. If you only have a few members of immediate family that will dine with you regularly, maybe you only need a table that seats four. But if you plan to entertain, you will probably need more than that.
So do you go for the lowest common denominator, or for when guests come to call?
Our solution? Design for both. One thing you can do is to purchase a larger table that will fit more chairs when needed. Benches are another versatile choice to accommodate any number of diners.
Of course, it all depends on the space you’re working with. If you have minimal room, you may want to plan your design to seat the regular crew and break out additional tables and folding chairs when you need to.
If you have friends or loved ones with limited mobility or a disability, you might also want to consider the accessibility of your dining space. For some, having extra room to navigate around the table and accessible paths to and from the house can be the difference between being included and missing out on the outdoor dining experience.
The shape of your table can actually have a pretty big impact on the overall look of your space, so choose wisely. Consider whether you want your outdoor dining area to match the look of the rest of your house. The style continuity will help bring the indoors out and make it feel like your outdoor dining space is truly an extension of your home.
When it comes to accessorizing, think of it the same way you would your kitchen. You want lights, decor, and tableware. You’ll also need to think about how to keep the space shaded and the bugs at bay.
For tableware, choose durable, unbreakable glasses and dishes. Melamine sets are less prone to breakage and are safer around kids and pets. Try some fun string lights or even tiki torches. Citronella candles do double-duty, illuminating the space and keeping bugs away. If you’re in need of shade, try a hanging cantilever umbrella as they can be repositioned to suit your needs.
Brittany received her interior design degree in 2010 and recently earned her kitchen and bathroom certifications. She sees her job as much more than just picking out pretty colors and materials – it also involves exact measurements, plenty of planning, and determining how to have a space accurately reflect the lifestyle of its occupants.