Dining alfresco is one of my favourite things to do. Having dinner on the patio with an (occasional) BBQ and (mandatory) bottle of wine turns an ordinary weekday night into something really special. We don’t get enough sun to do this very often in the UK so when we do it has to be special. So here’s 10 things to consider when choosing a new alfresco dining set.
1. Don’t be afraid of colour.
The concept of personality in interiors has been around a long time and is still considered as important as ever, but its often neglected when it comes to the garden. Bright or unique garden furniture draws the eye through the window giving the impression of more space, so be bold and brave and choose something you love.
2. Think about flow
That being said, you want your interior style to flow into the garden. So choose a dining set that reflects and/or complements your overall style. We love the businesslike vibe of this set above, perfect for a fastidious contemporary interior. The chairs would look equally at home inside allowing a seamless transition from kitchen to patio. If you like this concept you can read more about our ‘inside out’ furniture here.
3. Consider your space and the use.
Will the table and chairs be used solely for dining, or are you going to use it for relaxing and reading too. If so, sofas with comfy cushions as well as chairs would be a good option. Of course, if you have the space a separate lounge and dining set is preferable, but these corner dining sets (which we supply in a variety of colours) bridge the gap wonderfully for smaller patios.
4. How many guests?
Can your dining set accommodate more guests if necessary, or would they be perched on the end looking uncomfortable? Have a think about how many people you’re likely to have over at any one time and consider what you would do with a larger number of people. The Dagatha and Dagmara tables pictured above come in a selection of sizes and fit together perfectly to seat larger groups.
5. Do you need to store it?
If so make sure the chairs stack. And check whether you can easily dismantle the legs of the table. Does the dining set have big bulky cushions that require a waterproof box? Does the set have a cover? (All our garden furniture is suitable for all year round outdoor use, but you will naturally increase the lifespan by protecting it in winter).
6. Does it require maintenance?
Certain materials such as wood and concrete require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best. Be honest with yourself about this. I am no good at maintaining things and always neglect my furniture over winter. If this is you, consider something low maintenance like polyethylene, aluminium or high-end synthetic rattan (I have the latter).
7. Are you overlooked?
Not the most obvious consideration perhaps, but totally something to consider! If your guest bedroom looks out over the garden consider the aerial view of your furniture. Our new bamboo and granite tables look super smart from above.
8. Parasol or no parasol? That is the question.
When the sun is beating down how do you imagine getting your shade? If you’re thinking a centre parasol then you will need a hole (duh). If you don’t, and your imaginary shade is provided by an awning, a tree or one of those extending arm bad boys then you don’t. Obviously.
9. Consider mixing materials
Want to look super stylish? Consider mixed materials. This understated dining set with chunky wooden table and rattan chairs silently says “I know what I’m doing”. I also love to team distressed metal with natural rattan. See Rondy and Jacynda (for example).
10. Consider the height
Don’t assume you have to have a standard height dining table and chairs. If you have a large garden wall that blocks a view, or a dominating architectural feature, a taller dining set might be preferable. When choosing dining stools comfort is paramount. I recommend the wonderfully ergonomic Mandalynne set pictured above which is available in light cream.
Happy shopping. More long sunny evenings coming soon.