I’m from Scotland. As soon as it’s warm enough to sit out of an evening with an anorak on and a blanket on my knees I’m there, glass of wine in hand, nibbles in a bowl. So imagine the thrill when it’s summer proper and there’s no need for the extra layers. My point is eating, drinking, lounging outside as the sun dips is really viewed by us Brits as a luxury, something to be grabbed at the minute the chance becomes available. But just chucking the first available chair outside and eating dinner off your lap does not an alfresco dining mood make. It requires a tiny bit more effort than that – I’m talking candles hanging from a tree, considered garden furniture, outdoor crockery and linens effort. Here are some easy get-the-look steps…
Image from Abigail Ahern http://abigailahern.com
Buy some garden furniture
It really does make all the difference being able to step outside into what feels like an outdoor room rather than sifting through your home for the right equipment before stumbling outside with your arms full. If you’ve got a small space or a balcony, go for something simple like designer Abigail Ahern’s Ikea chairs and crate solution – note the small bunch of flowers on there making it feel more room-like. Or a small bistro-style table with two chairs, for proper upright eating. As long as there’s a good place to sit and a surface for your food and drink the basics are in place. Now it’s time to think details.
Image from John Lewis http://www.johnlewis.com
Set the table
Ok, if you’re alone this might take a rather simpler approach, but for friends it is nice to bring out the linens and table settings. Coordinate as you would indoors – if you like a monochrome theme then go for it right down to the table cloth, napkins and seat pads. Just add white crockery – we’ve all got that – but if you love an excuse to shop we’d nudge you towards some blue-and-white pieces [link to blue and white summer trend piece].
Image from Ikea http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/
Fix the lighting
For a complete garden dining experience fix that mood lighting. Lighting in the garden does, believe it or not, take many forms: Dangling some candles from a tree, stringing fairy lights across the sky fence-to-fence, around the shed, over the dining table, and finally planting individual lights in the flower beds so that you can admire your well-tended roses at dusk. If you can afford it then do all of the above, if you can’t then go for candles or fairy lights. Shelter them in empty jam-jars for a very current vintage vibe.
Image from Argos http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Home.htm
Create an outdoor room
If you have a porch or balcony, the work is done for you in that you have boundaries set for creating your outdoor room. Choose a dining table that fills the space well to make it all about socialising. You can afford to be more adventurous with upholstery too if you have shelter from the rain, and there’s the framework of the building for hanging extra lights from as a bonus. If you don’t have such a space, use the furniture alone to map out the room – an L-shaped sofa beneath an inexpensive canopy or marquet will feel like an exotic little corner of the garden that’s perfect for a light supper.
Images from Ikea http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/
Create an outdoor kitchen
This is for the all-singing all-dancing outdoor dining experience, but what an experience. I’d basically move outside if I had an outdoor kitchen in my garden. Made from concrete modular panels and with plenty of space for a sink and a stove, this kit kitchen has got everything you need. If you’re canny, you could think about creating similar with an existing barbeque and some worksurfaces made from MDF and trestle legs.
Complete the look: by linking your indoor and outdoor spaces with light and elegant French or folding doors https://www.todd-doors.co.uk/external-doors/toddfold-french-folding-sliding/