Refresh & Redo: 9.19.19
What are some summer essentials for dining al fresco?
When entertaining outdoors, I like to come up with unique serving ideas and decorate the dining table with layered looks that add dimension. I have a 6-foot-long antique metal trough that I fill with ice and bottled drinks so guests can find what they like easily. It’s very inviting!
When I’m setting the table, I use serving pieces that provide texture and depth, like chargers and decorative wooden trays beneath them. I also put items like napkin holders and salt and pepper shakers on small pedestals of different heights to create interest.
I recently held an outdoor party with a dessert station, and I labeled the desserts with standup chalkboard signs explaining what each one was. You also can arrange cookies and cupcakes with cute, welcoming signs that say, “Try me.” or “I’m sweet.”
Even if you have a beverage bar, you can set up other tables like a sangria station with decorative pitchers and glasses. That way, guests can enjoy helping themselves.
Marketplace at the Abbey
Fresh thoughts for outdoor dining spaces:
1. Lake-house look. Spruce up your screened porch for relaxing meals overlooking the woods or water. Find a distressed wood table and chairs, natural-fiber floor coverings, and quirky decorations like painted wood birdhouses and eclectic strings of lights.
2. Patio makeover. With a bit of time and patience, humble materials can help you create a high-end dining area. Install an iron pergola or frame above your patio, and plant wisteria or ivy to grow over it as a canopy. Complete the look with an outdoor fireplace made of cinder blocks, lined with fireproof brick and covered in stucco.
3. Cozy front porch. Who says dinner can’t be at the front of the house? If you have space, set up a long wood table with matching chairs and decorate with country linens, traditional stoneware and sturdy serving pieces. Various plants in small pots can provide color and interest.
4. Functional furnishings. Weather-resistant pieces can be stylish! A painted trestle table, sealed metal chairs and a weatherproof hanging lantern can turn practical into perfect.