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5 Inspiring Outdoor Dining Ideas

Looking for outdoor dining ideas? Don’t miss these five outdoor dining design ideas to make your next al fresco dining magical.

outdoor dining ideas charcuterie board candlesticks

My recent makeover of our outdoor teak table and dining chairs has sparked lots of conversation over in our Instagram community about outdoor dining areas. And if I could choose one takeaway, it would be this: There’s no time like the present to start enjoying outdoor dining.

refinished honey gold teak furniture outdoor dining set

Careful patio design and outdoor space planning can go a long way towards creating a beautiful outdoor entertaining area. But don’t put off outdoor living just because you don’t feel like you have an interior design magazine-worthy outdoor seating area. Instead, try these ideas to make any al fresco dining experience magical.

Whether you have a huge patio or a small porch, a limitless budget or a non-existent one, here are five ways to begin enjoying beautiful alfresco dining today.

Mix high and low

Working with nothing but a simple picnic table or folding table? No problem! Dress it up with elegant centerpieces and real dishes, silverware, vases, and more.

Or, if you’re nervous about the possibility of table settings breaking, consider melamine dishes, wooden trays, and other unbreakable serving pieces. Try copper cups for fancy but unbreakable outdoor barware.

I’ve gathered some beautiful outdoor-friendly dishes and barware below!

Light it up

Outdoor dining is all about the ambiance, and the quickest way to get there is with lights.

globe lights strung diagonally across a clearing | maison de pax

You can hang professional string lights (get the full, simple tutorial here)… Or just tie up some simple globe lights to a fence, roofline, tree, or umbrella stand.

You can hang lanterns, decorate with candlesticks, or fill the table with votives.

There is something about lighting the space that helps create an outdoor dining room feeling.

Here are some lights that would be beautiful at or around your outdoor table.

Don’t underestimate

I know what some of you are thinking: those spaces are big! All I have is a little porch or a tiny patio… But small spaces can create the wonderful feeling of intimate outdoor rooms. And fortunately, there are plenty of small outdoor furniture options perfect for those spaces.

Try a small bistro set, or more of a cafe table for drinks and appetizers. There’s no need for a full sit-down meal to enjoy al fresco dining.

Here are some adorable small-space outdoor dining sets.

Find shade

Unless you’re dining super late, some form of shade can make all the difference to an outdoor dining space.

Outdoor Decorating Tips: make your outdoor dining space usable with a giant shade umbrella
See more

Fortunately, there are many stylish options for backyard shade! You can get a simple standing umbrella, a cantilever option, or simply place your table under the trees.

Whatever you decide, don’t neglect the power of shade to keep the food tasting better and the people happier. 😉

Here are some highly-rated, stylish umbrella options if you choose to go that route.

Work with what you have

I’ve been saying this a bit all along, but it’s worth saying again. Start now. Don’t let a lack of fancy outdoor dining furniture keep you from enjoy an outdoor meal.

Our patio space at our colonial home was furnished with free spools we collected from a friend and chairs we dragged from inside whenever we needed them… and we enjoyed so many outdoor meals in that space.

If you don’t have fancy outdoor dishes, use real ones.

If you don’t have a beautiful outdoor table, put a table cloth on it.

If you don’t have time or budget for new outdoor string lights, grab an old strand of Christmas lights.

If you don’t have room for 12, set up a table for 2.

al fresco bistro dining with rose, french bread, and cheese | Maison de Pax

Whatever you do, remember that outdoor dining design – and any good design, really – is not just about looking pretty.

outdoor dining with cantilever umbrella for shade

It’s about gathering people for building relationships. Good conversation, yummy food, and relaxation…

I hope these ideas inspired you to enjoy some al fresco dining soon!

Don’t forget to pin it for later.

outdoor dining inspiration and ideas | Maison de Pax

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