How to Create an Outdoor Dining Space: 5 Easy Tips
Summer is the perfect time to create an outdoor dining space. Enjoy 5 easy tips to get ready to relax and dine alfresco in a cozy new space! Keep reading to see how we turned a sad concrete square into an outdoor dining room!
It is entirely possible that I love outdoor dining because it’s just way less mess to clean up. However, that would be just one of the many reasons! When we bought our home, I immediately saw the sad concrete square in the backyard as an opportunity to create an outdoor dining space that would be simple, yet beautiful.
Whether it’s at a restaurant or at home, there’s something about dining al fresco that feels a little more relaxed. Creating an outdoor dining space invites you to linger a little longer and 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 several years in our current home, I still miss that space! One of our projects after we bought our home was to create an outdoor dining area that comfortably seats all five of our family!
How do I build an outdoor eating area?
It took a few years to be able to really invest in our project to create an outdoor dining space. However, some DIY, pulling out some vintage favorites, planting a few flowers…and we finally have our outdoor dining room! We are going to chat all about that in today’s post!
Of course, that was after hours of debating and comparing furniture and budgets. At the same time, it was important to invest in something we would really love love over the long term!
How can I make my outdoor dining better?
Here are some elements I am focusing on as I continue to work on creating an outdoor dining space:
- Define a dining area outside of your home.
- Add functional furniture for how you and your family will use the space.
- Bring the indoors out with pretty accents.
- Add elements that make the space more comfortable.
- Create simple place settings.
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. However, we don’t have to have perfect landscaping to start using and enjoying this space!
Let’s chat about the projects we have done so far. At the same time, we will look at elements we added to create a low-maintenance, comfortable outdoor dining room.
How to Create an Outdoor Dining Space: 5 Easy Tips
Tip #1 to create an outdoor dining space: Define an area
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, so that was an obvious choice to create an outdoor dining space.
Actually, we think it had a shed at one point, so it made a great spot to add this 10×10 gazebo! Next, 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.
Add a gazebo or covered space
You certainly do not have to have a gazebo or even a covered area at all to create an outdoor dining space! However, with our tropical 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 (which we don’t want to have to do!), you can put an outdoor living or dining space anywhere! At the same time, it also gets very hot, so having a covered spot with shade just makes it more enjoyable for us!
Add a privacy wall
This was a project we finished with a local builder friend and it turned out so well. It has been a great fit for our outdoor dining space for several years now.
First, the narrow slats are nailed to three verticals. Next, the 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!
For a really easy and versatile privacy option, I absolutely love this 5 foot privacy screen divider that is also a planter! Perfect for a porch or deck where you need a pretty backdrop and/or some privacy!
Add a rug to define an outdoor space
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.
Here are some other favorite outdoor rugs:
- This beige and gray geometric rug has great pattern but isn’t too busy.
- The simple jute style of this outdoor rug goes with any decor and is easy to use.
- Add fun pattern with this gray and black transitional style. So pretty!
- We added this pretty diamond style to our outdoor living space this year!
- I love this pretty style too. The diamonds add great pattern and the overall look goes great with a vintage style.
Tip #2 to create an outdoor dining space: Add functional furniture
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! UPDATE: After 2 years, it is still holding up great!
At the end of this post, I am linking up some other outdoor dining furniture that I also love, in case you’re looking for a great set!
How much space do I need for an outdoor dining table and chairs?
For a table that seats 6-8 people, a 12×12 space is best. I think our concrete slab is just a bit under 12×12. However, we chose to make it work for us since the concrete was already there.
Add comfortable seating.
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!
Incorporate flexible seating too.
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!
If you’re looking for a great bench, THIS bench has a gorgeous vintage look and will last for years to come!
Tip #3 to create an outdoor dining space: Bring the indoors out
How do you style an outdoor dining table?
Whenever I’m decorating in an exterior space, I try to think about function and maintenance FIRST.
For an everyday centerpiece 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! Next, I added these outdoor “Caleb” lanterns.
Pro Tip: I only use lanterns outside that have NO GLASS! They are a lot easier to maintain and stay looking fresh for much longer! I also have THESE GORGEOUS LANTERNS in our outdoor spaces. My black ones have held up in unprotected outdoor spaces for several years now and still look great!
Also, 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!
Watch for fun, old signs at antique shops and flea markets!
Tip #4 to create an outdoor dining space: Add comfortable elements.
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.
Here are some favorite outdoor pillows this season:
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!
Tip #5 to create an outdoor dining space: Create simple place settings
To create this outdoor tablescape, I used some simple finds to dress up the table, while still keeping it simple and kid-friendly. I started with a table runner and simple, jute placemats. They are inexpensive but have great texture and pattern. At the same time, 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.
Note: I do not leave these out all the time. Instead, I bring them out for special outdoor dining.
First, I added melamine dishes. I’ve had these for a couple of years and love them. Outdoor dining is a perfect place to have some fun with easy patterns too. Adding some basic neutrals are a great way to be able to use melamine dishes for outdoor dining and mix and match the styles.
Next, 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!
Here are some favorite outdoor dining essentials:
Create a simple outdoor dining table centerpiece:
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!
Here are some current outdoor dining favorites for your space:
- Beautiful, portable outdoor tea/bar cart
- Gorgeous round outdoor dining table
- UV, weather resistant topiaries look so real
- Outdoor throw pillow inserts
- Battery operated, weather-proof candles
- Beautiful outdoor curtains that are weather-resistant (great for a porch too!)
- Round outdoor dining table with high-end look
- Round seagrass chargers with a black border–make any place setting look extra amazing!
- Cotton gingham table runner in brown and cream
- Wicker outdoor beverage stand
- Cute and comfy bistro set for small outdoor dining spaces!
- Pretty outdoor melamine tumbler drinking glasses
- Cutest taupe gingham outdoor pillows
- Citronella candles in gorgeous wicker holders
Now it’s time to enjoy!
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 if you don’t have a more permanent spot yet.
Simple, thoughtful touches and a beautiful summer evening are the perfect combination for budget-friendly relaxation at home with friends and family.
You may also enjoy these posts:
- Beautiful Driveway DIY for Affordable Curb Appeal
- How to Make an Easy DIY Outdoor Lantern
- How to Make Inexpensive DIY Outdoor Curtains
- The Best 10 Things to Use in Summer Shelf Decorating
- 7 Affordable Items You’ll Want to Thrift for Summer Decor
- 5 Things You Need for a Beautiful, Cozy Summer Bedroom
- 9 Beautiful Ideas for Your Summer Front Porch Decor