Summer in Australia means outdoor entertaining, and perhaps the most important element is the dining setting. Gathering with loved ones around a table, sharing a meal and creating memories is an essential part of our Summer evenings, weekends and treasured holidays.
There are a few key concepts to consider when preparing your home for these get-togethers to ensure your dining setting works best for your space, taste and guests. Here we take you through some of the key outdoor furniture pieces, and some important questions to ask yourself so you can be sure to make the right decision for your home.
First, choose a great table.
The centrepiece of your setting is - of course - the dining table. This piece will ground your setting, and be the piece that effects the flow of the space and even the opportunities for conversation.
Some of our clients tell us that having a grand dining table for Summer parties is essential. They imagine having all their family and friends gather together in one place, and are on the hunt for an extension table to fit as many people as possible. This is a lovely image, but there are a few key questions that need to be asked to make sure this is the right option.
How many people are you hoping to seat?
How does this relate to the space that you have available to you?
On an average sunny day, how many people are using the table?
Outdoor living at its finest, the Illum dining table by Tribu.
If you have a generous outdoor space, and love entertaining often – a large dining table is a great option.
If you have a smaller space but still love to entertain a few times a year, it may be worth considering a pair of complementary smaller tables. One table can sit in your primary outdoor area and serve as your everyday table, and a second one can be placed in another part of the home to be brought out for when it is needed. We like to think of it as furnishing for the everyday, not the exception. In times of celebrations, ie: birthdays or New Year celebrations, you can tailor the setup to suit.
TIP: Always measure your space. A good rule of thumb is to allow no less than 90cm from the edge of the table to the nearest object or wall. This gives you enough room to push your chair out, and walk around freely.
The shape of your dining table will be influenced by the space available, and affect how your loved ones interact.
What shape is best for your space?
How do you want people to engage with each other?
A round dining table is great to foster a feeling of intimacy. All guests can see each other across the table and everyone feels included in the conversation. If you have a narrow, rectangular space like a balcony, large round tables can be difficult to seat everyone and allow free movement.
A rectangular/elliptical table is great when wanting to seat a large amount of people, and those opposite you will sit nice and close. A rectangular dining table allows for ‘heads’ of the table for guests of honour or hosts, and is great to create sections of like-minded folk (like a kids end of the table). The shape of rectangular tables also allows additional tables to be added at either end with ease, just don’t forget a table cloth!
An intimate outdoor dining set-up, featuring the Branch 125 round table by Tribu.
The material of your dining table will set the tone for what kind of style you are going for. While style is important, the weather conditions and upkeep of your furniture should also be considered.
What style are you looking for?
What’s the weather like at your place, and how may it affect the outdoor furniture?
Outdoor furniture is built to survive the elements, but the material you choose and how it interacts with the elements will influence comfort, longevity and upkeep.
Teak outdoor furniture feels natural, warm and inviting. Teak silvers over time, and is popular for a relaxed Australian look, as well as a mid-century vibe. Furniture that heroes powdercoated aluminium can look more contemporary, modern and minimal.
A gorgeous teak furniture setting, the Addis 265cm table, Addis benches and Forrest chairs by Kett.
Do you have a beautiful sunny rooftop deck, which receives long hours of full sun?
An exposed, uncovered table with a dark ceramic top will attract heat, and can be hot to the touch in peak hours of the day. A table with a white top may create glare.
Both issues can be easily fixed by adding an umbrella to the space. For sunny areas, we would also recommend a teak table, or mid-tone colours like linen or granite natural stone to lessen these affects.
If you are purchasing outdoor furniture for a beach home which is not your primary residence - you may experience salt build up on your furniture from sea spray. Sea spray needs to be regularly wiped off your outdoor furniture, as salt left on aluminium furniture for prolonged periods of time can damage the frame. To best look after your furniture, you can purchase protective covers for the periods where you are not able to maintain it. This will increase the longevity and limit the upkeep required on your end. Bonus!
Furniture by the sea needs a little more attention, like these stunning Tosca outdoor chairs and Tosca dining table by Tribu.
Second - choose suitable, comfortable chairs.
Do you prefer a chair with arms, or no arms?
Chairs with arms are great for more elderly guests to help them get in and out. Chairs with no arms can maximise space around the table, so you can squeeze more friends in! A classic solution is placing a chair with arms on the ends of a table, and ones with no arms down each long side.
Bench seating is also very popular for maximising space, and delivering a clean and modern look. Beloved by children, and not so beloved by grandparents. If opting for benches, think about including some more classic chairs for when elderly or less able folk come to visit.
Mix and match chairs with arms, and chairs without. Seen here is the sleek Branch outdoor dining table, paired with Branch side chairs and Branch armchairs.
Do you want to be able to sit for long periods of time?
A batyline sling (mesh-like material) is commonly used on outdoor chairs. Famously easy to clean, and with a little give in the fabric for comfort, they are a popular option.
An outdoor cushion is a great option. We use high-performance outdoor fabrics that can live outside year-round. Got a spill? No problem. Simply hose them down, or pop them in the washing machine, (but don’t forget to remove the foam!). Read more here on selecting outdoor textiles.
Long lunches can call for a little more cushioning. Seen here is the gorgeous Forrest elliptical table and Forrest armchairs by Kett.
Where will your chairs live? If you will be keeping extra chairs in a garage over winter or holiday periods, consider chairs that will stack.
Dining Table Suggestions
Dining For Two
We love the Branch Bistro table by Tribu.
Dining For Four
Try the Branch 125 table by Tribu. Available in a range of finishes to suit your style.
Dining For Six
Luxurious materials and modern shape of the Tao table have made it a fast favourite. The pedestal design means none of your guests have to navigate table legs when trying to squeeze more people in!
Dining For Six In A Small Space
Dining For Eight
The Illum 212cm table is perfect for seating eight, with three down each side and one on each end.
Dining For Eight In A Small Space
The Illum also comes in a slim version! 71cm wide to allow intimate dining in a smaller area.
Dining For Ten
The Addis 265cm table by Kett fits four down each side, and one on each end. Lots of finish options to choose from – mix benches and chairs for a modern look.
Dining For Ten +
The Addis Teak Extension Table by Kett fits 10-14 people, depending on your combination of chairs and benches.
Need a little help putting your outdoor space together? Drop into one of our showrooms in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne or Perth to talk to one of our experienced design consultants. Alternatively, you can book a design consult directly here.