According to a recent survey by realestate.com.au, 20 percent of Australians would choose to add an outdoor dining area to their properties. It is actually the third most coveted feature in a property by Australians, just behind a swimming pool (21 percent) and an extra bedroom (25 percent).
Australia is famous for its clement climate, and locals are taking advantage of this fact by taking their dining rooms outside. A dinner party in the cool breeze is a long ways from one in air-conditioning.
How do you create an outdoor dining area that will blow your guests away and make you the envy of the neighbourhood? Read on for how:
Space and structure
Finding space for al fresco dining at home doesn’t need a world-famous panorama of the sea or the mountains. You can pull it off even if your view is just a building or another unnatural backdrop. The trick? Find the quietest and most private portion of your lot, away from traffic noise and shielded from prying eyes.
A grouping of tables and chairs in the yard does not an outdoor dining room make, however. It’s not just a designated picnic area either; it’s something more permanent than that. On the contrary, it should feel like an annex of your house: something outside but not quite outside.
A typical outdoor dining room has two walls at most and an even platform. Your deck, patio or balcony can easily serve the purpose. So does a gazebo, pergola or folly.
Your dining area needs shelter from precipitation and harsh sunlight. A tent, shade sail, or awning would help you to that end. You may also make use of hanging umbrellas specially designed for patios.
Just as importantly, the ground on your prospective dining space needs to be level. The last thing you want is your chairs and tables tilting at an angle.
This isn’t a problem if you already have a deck, patio, or the like. If you’re working with bare ground, create sturdy flooring with concrete, brick, fine gravel, wood planks, or a material of your choice. This way, your guests’ heels won’t be planted firmly in the ground.
Tables and chairs
A bistro set would be ideal for partners, while a party crowd would benefit from long benches and a buffet table. Picnic tables are perfect for a family with kids.
Since they would be at the mercy of the elements, your tables and chairs must be weather-resistant. Seek those made of wrought iron, teak, glass and plastic.
Tables and chairs are not even requisite. You have an array of options for your outdoor dining room, including chaise lounges, couches, daybeds, hammocks, and so forth.
Ideally, you would want your outdoor dining area to reflect your home’s overall aesthetic. This holds true especially if your dining area is also your patio or deck, jutting from your house.
If you have a small area, create the illusion of space by propping a large, thick-framed mirror against a wall.
Use plants not just to vivify your outdoor dining area, but also to delineate it from the rest of the yard. Trees offer canopy, while hedges and bushes function as railings. Meanwhile, wooden planters on four corners easily outline the rectangle or square of a dining area.
As for flowers, choose white or pale blue/violet varieties. They capture light best.
If you use your dining area mostly after sundown, create nocturnal drama with lanterns, hurricane lamps, garden torches, and candles. Stronger electric lights only draw insects and obscure the night sky.
Add a golden glow to mealtime by stringing fairy lights or rope lights along the railing or on the wall. Show off water features or a nice landscaped area with uplights and downlights.
When creating an outdoor dining area, take care not to upstage the natural appeal of the location. So take away that awning for a while. Turn off some lights. You wanted to escape the press of closed spaces, didn’t you? Well, here’s your chance at living au naturel.
Likewise, you don’t want your outdoor dining area to look out of place. Style your outdoor dining area according to your house design. A landscaper can easily reconcile your interior and outdoor styles.
Have a hearty meal!