As the heat of summer seems to settle in for the long haul, the prospect of cranking on your oven to cook dinner feels less and less appealing. Sweating away in a hot kitchen is enough to kill any cook’s appetite.
So when you’re feeling the heat in the kitchen and want to cool off with some barbequing and alfresco dining, you need an outdoor dining area that meets your needs. Whether it’s a small urban balcony or a sprawling country yard, you can create the perfect outdoor dining area for all your summer entertaining.
Check out these 9 design ideas to inspire the outdoor space of your dreams:
1. Remember: Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
Adding lighting elements is a quick and easy way to elevate any dining space.
Check out some options such as hurricanes, chandeliers, or Edison bulbs for that French cafe experience. Pick a lighting option that is as aesthetically pleasing during the daytime when it’s shut off as it is at night when you turn it on.
Don’t have electricity in your outdoor space? Consider battery-operated lights or solar lights!
Adding lighting keeps the dining experience going well into the night.
2. Pick Weatherproof Furniture
There’s nothing worse than going outside to sit down on your patio furniture and finding all of the cushions soaking wet. You’ll want to pick a dining set that works for all weather – even right after a storm!
Great options include wooden furniture, wicker furniture, and metal dining set that can be easily wiped down.
3. Decide How Formal It Should Be
An outdoor dining area does not mean the same thing to every person. You need to decide how you’ll most often be using the area and what level of formality it needs to exude.
Do you have a brood of little kids that would make a classy glass table and romantic setting unrealistic? Maybe you like entertaining big groups for dinner parties and need a dining table for 8?
For a less formal seating option consider a lounge area with comfy chairs and a long couch where people can pick at appetizers and relax.
4. Don’t Forget About the Bar
Being able to quickly whip up an icy drink makes dining outside so much more appealing. If the outdoor space is large enough, you may want to invest in a bar area.
However, if your tiny apartment balcony doesn’t allow for a full bar, you can always set up a rolling bar cart that can be brought out to the dining area for dinner and stashed somewhere else the rest of the time.
Nothing says outdoor dining like margaritas and fresh lemonade!
5. Keep It Green
You are eating outside, after all, so make sure you bring some natural elements into your design.
Whether that’s a lush garden to add some privacy from your neighbors’ prying eyes, or a potted succulent on the table to add a splash of nature to your table, green elements go a long way toward setting the mood for an outdoor dining area.
6. Provide Some Shade
If it’s too hot to eat inside, it’s probably too hot to eat in the direct sun. Keep your space cool with some shade options.
Large trees are a great option. All you have to do is pick a place for the table that maximizes shade time. If you don’t have the luxury of a backyard full of trees to work with, you can make sure you aren’t sweating in the heat with these other shade options:
- Shade sails or canopies
Even adding a ceiling fan to your porch ceiling can make a huge difference in your outdoor dining experience.
7. Up Your Flooring Game
Depending on the size of your outdoor space, and what the current flooring is, you may want to up your game by adding an outdoor rug. A rug delineates the area, freshens up a boring space with color or texture, and is much comfier to walk on barefoot.
If a rug doesn’t work, you can freshen up the flooring with a quick coat of light-colored paint, new pavers, or an investment into better lawn care.
8. Bring the Beats
Hosting a dinner outside almost necessitates background music to set the right feeling. If you don’t have a way to pipe your indoor music outside, you’ll want to invest in an outdoor music speaker.
Options that are waterproof are best. You can even find some outdoor speakers that double as lights, making them a beautiful decoration to be displayed rather than tucked into an obscure corner.
9. Keep the Table Fresh
If you have a small space or other limiting factors that are keeping you from going all out on your outdoor dining area design, you should keep it simple.
By keeping the design of your outdoor eating area very simple and clean, you make the space seem larger. This also provides you the option of jazzing up the design on an as-needed basis with your table settings.
You can make beautiful edible displays of fresh fruit, add a pop of color with brightly colored serving bowls, and increase elegance with crisp linens on the table. Making the table setting the focal point allows you to create a new experience each time you dine outside.
Enjoy Your New Outdoor Dining Area!
Once the design elements are in place, go outside and enjoy your new outdoor dining area! It’s a space that can only be used for so many months out of the year, so get on out there and use it while the summer heat sticks around.
Looking for more design inspiration? Check out our other blog posts for other ideas on how to style your space.