How to Design an Outdoor Dining Space

Embrace the warmer seasons with some helpful tips to prep your home
for the perfect outdoor dining experience.

With days growing longer and nights getting warmer, it’s no surprise that dining outdoors is a much-anticipated seasonal event. There’s nothing quite like sharing a meal under the sun or enjoying a drink in a warm summer night’s breeze. And whether you’ve got an expansive poolside patio or a small balcony to work with, a little guidance and some style will have you ready for outdoor gatherings before the summer solstice.

Room to Work With

You don’t need to have a sprawling deck or lawn to enjoy an outdoor dining experience. But when selecting outdoor furniture, it’s essential to understand your space’s size. If you’re working with a small balcony or limited patio space, consider adding a round table with a pair of dining chairs. Bistro-style tables and chairs are often lightweight and foldable and can easily be stowed to the side when not in use.

If you’re working with a larger space, don’t be afraid to use bigger, bolder furniture pieces to make use of your available square footage. A rectangular dining table not only offers more guests a seat, but it’s an excellent way to break up space and help define the different areas of a larger outdoor area.

The Right Light

To keep the outdoor occasions going well into the night, it’s a good idea to consider the lighting and ambiance. While are a tried-and-true favorite for adding a romantic touch to open-air dinners, portable lantern-style lamps are becoming increasingly popular for outdoor settings. can be easily moved from indoors to outdoors if an impromptu al fresco occasion occurs, and they provide the ambiance of a campfire or candlelit dinner without the worry of an open flame.

Today’s elevate outdoor gatherings with fun features ideal for entertaining. They’re equipped with everything from built-in Bluetooth speakers to color-changing LEDs controlled by your smartphone. They also feature smart designs that can be suspended from surroundings trees, balcony beams, or placed directly on the table for a more intimate dining experience.

If you prefer overhead lighting when dining, go for an outdoor pendant light to brighten the tabletop and add a decorative statement to your dining furniture. Uncovered areas can benefit from a large outdoor floor lamp that hovers over the center of a round dining table, adding a bold look while offering the same welcoming glow of a pendant light.

Keep Your Cool

While you can’t control the weather, there are a few things you can do to make your outdoor dining experience even more comfortable. If your dining space is covered, an outdoor fan can be the finishing touch it needs to become an outdoor oasis. Modern outdoor ceiling fans are offered in a wide range of styles, from sleek and contemporary to rustic and traditional. They can be a great way to add cooling comfort while providing a statement piece that can complement the look and feel of your outdoor dining décor.

Be sure to consider whether your outdoor ceiling fan is damp or wet rated to ensure it’s protected from moisture caused by rain or humidity. You’ll also want to make sure you select a fan with the appropriate mounting option for your dining area’s ceiling height and style.

If your outdoor area is uncovered, don’t overlook the need for shade. Outdoor umbrellas add classic summer style to décor while offering protection from the sun and helping keep dining guests a bit cooler during warmer weather. Opt for an umbrella made from a durable fabric like Sunbrella, which blocks UV rays, is mold-resistant and ensures its color doesn’t fade.

A Moveable Feast

For a genuinely well-rounded outdoor dining experience, don’t forget to include storage and accessories. Bar carts offer practical, moveable storage for drinkware and barware and keep items readily available when entertaining. Versatile and perfect for spaces large and small, they can be moved from a dining area to a lounge space to keep drinks and snacks nearby.

Once you’ve determined the elements that work for your outdoor dining area, the rest relies on your personal style. Whether you have plenty of acreage or room for two, any outdoor space can become your favorite place to dine year-round.