Warm Australian weather is perfect for outdoor entertaining, from summer cocktail parties, to low-key family weekday dinners. The actual outdoor seating can make the difference between just eating out in the backyard and a truly enjoyable dining experience in a part of the garden tastefully arranged like an extension of the home itself. It’s time to get rid of those unsightly polyester chairs and the surplus table and transform your outdoor space with one of these inventive dining patio ideas, which are as practical as they are enthralling.
Just large enough to accommodate a simple picnic table, this stone brick landing occupies a part of the lawn as a dedicated dining space virtually anywhere in the backyard. However, for a true family gathering retreat, try to place it as far from home as possible. Instead of stone bricks, any kind of old repurposed bricks, such as those unearthed through remodelling, will do. Such an elementary, but not tasteless, dining place lends itself to basic decoration, such as an intriguing ceramic bowl as the table centrepiece or a whitewashed pot of heath plants.
Warm glint of copper
Outdoor rooms should never lose the sense of humour. Lift the spirits of the neutral wooden deck and a heavy trestle table with elegant wire bowl chairs in a metallic copper finish. Chairs like these can feel perfectly at home inside, as well, pardon the pun, when the outdoor eating season ends. A repurposed console table with a drawer is your go-to piece for stashing bar tools, spirits and an occasional decorative planter, while at the same time giving the setup a sense of permanence that is only found inside. Your décor can vary from the occasion to occasion, with hot pink pincushion flowers enjoying the company of Campari punch and string lights in the evening.
An ideal setting for a small crowd of friends or a relaxed family out-eating, this concrete patio space has a green corner sofa as the primary seating, making it perfect for a sunlit holiday meal. In the evenings, and less sunny days, a built-in fireplace warms the sunken dining area and creates a great point of interest. The concrete wall that enshrouds the space from all sides is lined with hopseed bushes, which create a feeling of cosiness all year-round, topped by the golden leaves of a pair of Western redbuds. However, what truly holds the place together from the inside is one of the amazing flat weave outdoor rugs. Made of hand-woven, UV-stabilized polyester, these rugs are easy to clean, and a perfect choice for any high-traffic outdoor area.
Shipping pallets are everywhere – lying abandoned behind grocery stores, stacked upright on the fringes of big-box car parks. If you value upcycled materials, such a piece of suburban flotsam can easily become a table top, coated with natural wax stain. For this undemanding DIY project, you’ll need legs from another table, which can be found at a garage sale or flea market. Such a reborn table is at home with a set of equally mismatched and salvaged chairs, where you can mix materials and styles, as long they are natural and recyclable. A table runner of a sunken succulent-filled box secured to the table underside draws the whole setting into the pea gravel patio and low-maintenance, drought-tolerant garden.
Flavours of Tuscany
Call it a Mediterranean garden without walls, the centrepiece of this family dining retreat is a concrete-topped table with cross-supports and matching benches of weathered pine. Inspired by elegant yet casual Mediterranean gardens, the pea gravel patio works best in the shade of a big tree, where walking barefoot provides invigorating cool-down in the eye of the summer. Add more southern fragrances with bushes of boxwood, Provence lavender, Myrtus communis, and rosemary. Complete the look with a few select ground lanterns, earthen bowls of different sizes and ample bottles of olive oil.
These inviting outdoor dining rooms are much more than just seating options. They create an intimate setting for families, making the best use of space, and becoming conversation starters on their own. Although at the moment your outdoor space may be limited to a veranda or an extended piece of the walkway, hopefully one of these ideas will inspire you to start pursuing your budget-friendly outdoor family oasis.