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5 Fabulous Outdoor Dining Ideas

Whether your outdoor space is a city balcony or a sprawling ranch with enviable acreage, dining outdoors is a much-anticipated ritual during the warmer months of the year. And transforming your backyard or patio into a dining area involves very little effort. The goal is to create an outdoor eating area that's both comfortable and stylish.
Here are some helpful tips to maximize the potential of your outdoor dining area, and 5 ideas for how to make a cozy, welcoming dining area worth showing off to your friends.

1. Consider the Location of Your Outdoor Dining Area
Design a space around your lifestyle, rather than designing your lifestyle around the space. For instance, if you love to entertain, you might want to spring for as large of a dining table as possible. But if it's just your immediate family that will typically use the space, you can create a cozier setting. Either way, make sure there is enough space for people to move comfortably around the dining area.

2. Choosing the Right Outdoor Dining Set
If you're planning to purchase a new outdoor dining set, ask yourself these questions before buying:

  • How many people will use it? Is the set for your immediate family, lots of friends, or just you and a special someone?
  • What shape do you prefer? Most tables are either oval, round, rectangular, or square.
  • Does the size fit your outdoor dining area? Large furniture can cramp a small space while small furniture can look lost in a large space. Measure the space of your dining area before you go furniture shopping.
  • Are you looking for comfort? If your dining chairs will be the primary seating of your whole outdoor space, consider comfortable chairs with cushions.
  • Is there a style you want to match? You can match your home's exterior style and colors with outdoor furniture for a cohesive look. Or you can even carry the theme of your indoor furniture outdoors.

The design of your outdoor dining set ultimately comes down to personal preference. Remember that outdoor dining is inherently informal, and there's no rule that says the table and chairs must all match. Sometimes an eclectic look ends up being much more inviting and comfortable than a uniform dining set.

3. Consider a Buffet
A buffet table or bar is an efficient way to allow guests to serve themselves. It goes along with the informality of the outdoor dining experience, and it frees up space on the dining table. Plus, you can dress it up according to the theme of your gathering. Just make sure there's enough room to accommodate a buffet without crowding. Aim to keep at least 4 feet between the buffet table or bar and the dining table for easy access to both.

4. Maximize the View
If you live on a hilltop, the world below will look dazzling at night while gazing at it from an outdoor dining table. How about any views within the yard itself? Do you have a lush garden or a water feature? Maybe your house has lots of windows and, when softly lit at night, looks lovely from the backyard looking in. Locate your outdoor dining area, so you can enjoy the amenities of your own landscape.

5. Provide Shade
You can have the most comfortable outdoor dining chairs, but if they're sitting in the middle of a concrete patio in the desert with the sun beating down, it won't be enjoyable. Provide shade and shelter in the form of an outdoor umbrella, patio cover, or other structure for your dining area. That way, you won't have to worry as much about weather interfering with your outdoor dining.

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