How to Create an Outdoor Dining Room
It is entirely possible that I love outdoor dining because it’s just way less mess to clean up…but that would be just one of the reasons! Whether it’s at a restaurant or at home, there’s something about dining al fresco that feels a little more relaxed, invites you to linger a little longer, to have more of a dining experience. Even when our kids were really little, one of their favorite things was to grill hotdogs, grab paper plates, a bag of chips, and jump in the pool after dinner!
We had a wonderful outdoor dining area at our previous home and even after four years in our current home, I still miss that space! One of our projects this spring has been to create an outdoor dining area that comfortably seats all five of our little family!
A little DIY, hours of comparing furniture and budget and trying to decide, pulling out some vintage favorites, planting a few flowers…and we finally have our outdoor dining room!
A quick disclaimer and some real life: We are still working on this space! There are several things we want to add and improve, mainly some additional landscaping, but we don’t have to have perfect landscaping to start using and enjoying this space!
Here are the projects we did and elements we added to create a low-maintenance, comfortable outdoor dining room:
We added this gazebo soon after moving into our home, as we couldn’t pass up a deep, end-of-summer clearance. The 12×12 concrete pad was already there when we purchased the house; we think it had a shed at one point, so it made a great spot to add this 10×10 gazebo! We chose the black metal to tie in with the black doors and shutters of our home’s exterior. While this exact model isn’t available, I found similar ones HERE and HERE.
You certainly do not have to have a gazebo or even a covered area at all to create an outdoor dining space! With our Florida weather, it’s almost a little pointless to try and have outdoor furniture set ups that stay pretty and are uncovered, unless of course, you have lots and lots of time to clean and maintain it! It also gets very hot, so having a covered spot just makes it more enjoyable for us!
Wood Privacy Wall
This was a project we finished with a local builder friend. The narrow slats are nailed to three verticals. These verticals are then screwed into the metal corners. With one more vertical in the middle for strength, I just love how it turned out! It makes the perfect backdrop for so many decorating ideas!
Outdoor rugs can be a tricky thing, but I cannot say enough good about the outdoor rug collections from Boutique Rugs. I love the color and texture on this one and it is the perfect complement to the modern farmhouse vibes of our outdoor living space AND the vintage look of the table and bench.
I also love that while it has some white on it, it has a gray base and hides the dirt a little better! My rug is the Thorntonville outdoor rug in an 8×10 size! Having a good outdoor rug is a wonderful way to make any outdoor space feel cozy and inviting, much like you would decorate an interior space!
I have a 60% off coupon code for you too! Use the code FRENCHNEST60 to get 60% your purchase from Boutique Rugs.
Table: It took me weeks…probably close to a couple months…to finally decide on furniture! Quality, outdoor furniture can be extremely expensive and we were really trying to make this a budget-friendly project.
When we saw this vintage farmhouse table at an antique mall, I fell in love with the wood and white tones. It is the perfect size for our family and of course, I love that it is vintage and unique! However, regular wood and Florida weather are not a good combination. Part the reason that it was taking so long to decide on furniture is that we really need teak or a similar outdoor-friendly wood.
This table is none of those.
After talking to several people who work with furniture, we decided to go ahead and take a chance on this table. We used 3 coats of polyacrylic in a matte finish. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that it holds up well. The good thing is that if we see it is starting to have effects from being outside…if the polyacrylic isn’t a good enough seal…we can use it somewhere else or sell it.
For the time being, though, we feel like we will definitely be able to get our money out of it and enjoy it in the process. So ask me in a couple of years how the table is holding up! I’ll have to come back and update this blog post!
At the end of this post, I am linking up some other outdoor dining furniture that we were considering, prior to finding this vintage table, in case you’re looking for a great set!
Chairs: I really wanted to find a chair that would be able to tie together the vintage table and the more “modern farmhouse” style of the exterior of our home. These chairs have a nice, light coloring that complements the table. I love the more boho/modern farmhouse vibe of the design and it was just the kind of look I was hoping to find! They are really comfortable and will be easy to maintain as well! Win-win!
This particular set was also a budget-friendly option, as it came in the set of four. Combining it with a bench we already had, made this a great option for our family!
Bench: Believe it or not, this bench was a FREEBIE! My husband brought it home for me from a trash pile last summer! We didn’t have a good spot for it at the time, but I am so glad we held onto it because it’s the perfect combination with our tables and chairs!
Whenever I’m decorating in an exterior space, I try to think about function and maintenance FIRST.
For an everyday look, I added this planter from Lowe’s and a low-maintenance Ponytail Palm. I love the vintage, pottery look of the planter but it was a fraction of the price of high-end retail stores! I also added these outdoor “Caleb” lanterns. I only use lanterns outside that have NO GLASS! They are a lot easier to maintain and stay looking fresh for much longer! I included quality, outdoor battery-operated candles. They are on a timer and I love the inviting feeling when they flicker on in the evenings!
The vintage Cherries sign is such a fun piece and is a great way to add a big statement for wall décor! It’s also low-maintenance, as it is sturdy, made to be outdoors, and doesn’t require major cleaning to keep it looking great! Vintage produce signs are a great way to add some character to an outdoor dining room and I love the play-on-words with the fruit and vegetable names!
Outdoor throw pillows are another great way to add a lot of texture, color, and pattern to an outdoor space. For throw pillows in our outdoor spaces that are NOT under cover and stay out all the time, I highly recommend investing in great quality. I have had my Sunbrella striped pillows for several years now and they still look great! Outdoor pillows can be found in all price ranges. However, I do not spend very much money (more than $25-30) on an outdoor pillow UNLESS it is one of the Sunbrella styles.
This seat cushion from H&M is becoming one of my favorite finds, and is super affordable!
Otherwise, I can usually plan to get a year or so out of an inexpensive outdoor throw pillow. Since we use our outdoor spaces year-round, I do not bring our cushions/pillows in or store them. They stay outside in the elements 24/7, year-round (unless we are getting tropical storm or hurricane warnings!). I do have some seasonal outdoor throw pillows for the front porch that I rotate around.
I’m linking up some of my favorite outdoor throw pillow finds from this year at the end of my post. Pillows are a relatively inexpensive way to add a quick refresh and update to any outdoor space!
Outdoor Place Settings
To create this outdoor tablescape, I used some recent finds to dress up the table, while still keeping it simple and kid-friendly. I started with this table runner and jute placemats. They are inexpensive but have great texture and pattern. They gave an instant “special” feeling to the table! Since they were not expensive purchases, I am comfortable with having us dine as a family here without worrying too much about spills.
I added these melamine dishes from Flower and Home Marketplace. I love the slate gray chargers and striped plates for a casual, outdoor dining pattern! I also have white bowls that are perfect for an evening treat of watermelon or ice cream!
I added my shop rag napkins, black flatware, and these adorable shell dishes. I love how they add a little summer, coastal vibe and they were really inexpensive also! A perfect little summer addition to your table!
I finished off the table by using my European, vintage pickling jars and a few palm branches from the trees in our yard (more free décor!). The pickling jars have those faint hints of green and blue that fit so beautifully with the light, summer textures! They are perfect for filling with flowers, greenery, or just looking pretty all by themselves!
I hope this post inspires you to find a spot around your yard to turn into an outdoor dining area! Consider even a folding table with a pretty tablecloth for a temporary set up! Simple, thoughtful touches and a beautiful summer evening are the perfect combination!