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Outdoor Dining Style IDEAS

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by Kearston Baalman

patio with plenty of outdoor dining space

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Europe is known for wonderful outdoor dining. Europeans definitely have it all figured out when it comes to creating the perfect atmosphere for outdoor living that incorporates dining, socializing and even cooking space. Nothing is more relaxing than enjoying good food, good friends, and great culture. Outdoor dining in countries such as France, England, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Switzerland all have differences, but one thing that remains the same is their ability to make their outdoor dining spaces totally appealing and entirely inviting. 

So how does one replicate an experience such as that? First, decide what type of experience you want. Will the outdoor dining experience be designed for those who you entertain or will it be an intimate experience designed simply for your own experience? This will give you an idea as how large an area you need. If you are entertaining several friends, you will need a large area with space to move freely and visit with one another. 

covered patio with outdoor dining

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If you are choosing a place for entertaining, remember friends will need plenty of room to sit and eat. There are a few things to consider when choosing table seating. You can choose a table large enough to accommodate your guests, but a table that size may be a bit overwhelming. Another idea is to choose more than one table for your guests. This will give your guests a more intimate dining experience and can create different areas more viable for conversation, while enjoying their meal. For a personal dining experience, a small, intimate table is a suitable choice.

fall outdoor dining area

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There are many options in choosing a dining set. Best-selling dining sets are made of wood, metal, or wicker. Take a look at your surroundings and decide what type of experience you are looking for. The natural look of wood fits in well with outdoor space, which is usually very rich in landscaping and vegetation. After purchasing a wood dining set, check the manufacture details for any maintenance needs, such as water sealant (you can purchase water sealant at your local hardware store). There are a few options when choosing a metal dining set. Wrought iron has become very popular and can be very elegant. It is heavy and would be more appropriate in harsh, windy climates. Another metal that is popular is aluminum. Aluminum dining sets may be much lighter weight and are usually price friendly. The key when choosing a metal dining set would be the chair cushion. A metal dining set can be beautiful and durable, but may not be comfortable without a great cushion. Wicker dining sets are quite comfortable and casual and fit nicely into a naturalistic setting. Wicker sets come in a variety of colors, and styles.

One important factor not to overlook would be sun exposure. Neither you, nor your guests want to be uncomfortable by being exposed to excessive sun or heat. An effective dining umbrella could be a viable choice. Dining umbrellas come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. To choose an appropriate one, first take into account how much sun your dining area receives and how much shade is needed. The larger amount of shade needed, the larger the umbrella needed. Traditional umbrellas stand on a center base with shade given around the perimeter. Umbrellas also come with the bases offset to give more room under the umbrella itself. Most umbrellas are made of durable polyester and are mildew resistant, but extreme climates may want to make sure that the umbrella will withstand the climate. Another shade choice could be a retractable awning. Retractable awnings are anchored on one side and roll out to provide shade as needed. Retractable awnings may range in size from 3 feet to more than 65 feet. These awnings are also available in various colors and patterns. Retractable awnings are available from a variety of sources and typically require professional installment. Companies also offer replacement fabrics and brackets as needed. An additional choice is a free standing shade option known as a pergola. A pergola offers the large shade of a retractable awning with the permanency of a porch. Pergolas are available in a variety of choices. Pergolas may be made of wood, wrought iron, or aluminum. Pergolas may also be very intricate and require professional installation or may be fairly simple as a do-it-yourself project. Pergola kits may be purchased at do-it-yourself stores or even ordered online.

rustic backyard with pool and dining space above

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Landscaping is another aspect when considering outdoor dining. Landscape options should include flowers and vegetation that are people-friendly and welcoming. Avoid plants and flowers with unpleasant odors or that may have unpleasant textures such as thorns or rough leaves. Choose plants that will not attract unwanted pests or insects. Don’t forget about lighting when putting together your landscaping. Choosing the perfect lighting can keep the wonderful outdoor dining experience going well into the evening. Choosing solar lighting can eliminate the need to run wiring and is a smart, eco-friendly choice. On the other hand, choosing electrical lighting can give you more options and is typically brighter. Both choices are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and watt capacity.

elegant outdoor living space with dining

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Don’t forget to accessorize your dining area with pillows, candles, and table coverings. These little extras can add a touch of your own taste and make the area seem cozy and inviting. Be sure to choose accessories that are durable and weather resistant.

Lastly, throw a steak on the grill, sit back, relax, and enjoy your outdoor dining experience. Make it some of your favorite times!

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