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How To Create a Relaxed Outdoor Dining Experience

With the weather getting warmer and the evenings longer, now is the perfect time to turn our attention to the often-overlooked living space that is the garden.

Creating the perfect setting and atmosphere for relaxed summer dining on the evenings and weekends takes consideration and planning but the end result should feel effortless.

Here are some top tips:

1. It all starts with the dining table.

A fabulous dining table for everyone to gather round is the centrepiece of alfresco dining. For something with a sculptural quality, I love rustic stone tables – they have an earthy feel perfect for outdoors and the texture adds to the relaxed vibe.

Callanish Dining Table from OKA
Callanish Dining Table by OKA

2. Create a contrast with chairs

Selecting chairs that are different material to your dining table will create a contrast and add interest, giving a more thoughtful, curated look. Try rattan or metal for finishes that are ideal for the garden.

Shown here is the Centurion dining chair by Oxley's.

3. Add comfort with cushions

The key to a relaxed dinner is comfort. Some large, plump outdoor cushions on the dining chairs will allow your guests to enjoy their meal and to be able to take their time dining and chatting. The addition of cushions also gives an opportunity to add colour and pattern and there is a wide range of outdoor fabrics available to choose from.

The "Around The World" Outdoor Fabric Collection by JAB Anstoetz
The "Around The World" Outdoor Fabric Collection by JAB Anstoetz

4. Dress the table

The collection of place settings, dinnerware, cutlery and serverware will provide the finishing touch to your dinner setting. Try combining different textures such as wood, rattan and ceramics to give an eclectic feel. Add bountiful floral displays to bring the garden to the table.

This Olive Wood Oval Bowl is from The White Company.

5. Create a more informal area

Zone your garden into different “rooms”. In addition to the dining space, an area with more comfortable seating – an outdoor sofa and armchairs – provides an alternative location for lounging in the sun, or perhaps enjoying a few drinks with friends.

The Harrington Sofa Set and Tuscany Coffee Table by Neptune
The Harrington Sofa Set and Tuscany Coffee Table by Neptune

6. Provide some candlelight

As the dinner extends into the evening, add to the ambiance with a scattering of candles around the garden. Abundance is key – the aim is to create a warm glow around the area, so place groups of candles together rather than individual ones.

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