With warmer weather comes more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. It’s a particularly attractive prospect this year as the pandemic drags on, but we feel like we’ve been isolated long enough.
Whether it’s in your garden, on your deck, or on your little balcony, your dinner party is sure to be a memorable one for your guests. That means thinking beyond the basics and creating a dining space that is just as thoughtful as an indoor dining room.
Cynthia Zamaria, Toronto-based home and garden stylist and author of House + Flower, says: “One way to do that is to create a beautiful table for them. You may still be working on potato salad, but the table is set and nice.
With Mother Nature on your side, you might even be able to create a space that’s better than any room. New York-based event designer David Stark said:
We asked designers like Zamaria and Stark for their advice on how to create an outdoor dining space that’s perfect for summer.
If you have a relatively large terrace or garden, it is not necessary to have lunch and dinner in the same place, at the same table as your daily meal. Consider moving your table to another attractive location. Under a canopy of trees, near flowers in a garden, by a pool or water.
“People are really looking for experiences, especially in the last two years,” said New York-based interior designer Becky Shay. He designed his one dinner his party under the willow tree in the Catskills house, and another on another hill. Mountain. “People can be immersed in a different environment just by changing the settings.”
Orange, Virginia-based textile designer and author of Invitation to the Garden, Michael Devine, regularly moves the dinner table around the garden. “It depends on what’s blooming and what’s looking good. Then the table goes there,” he said. “We’ve been around the garden all summer. ”
No need to have a proper dining table with chairs. According to his designer, Chauncey Boothby, based in Lowighton, Connecticut, Fingers can use lounge furniture if he sticks to his hood.
Alternatively, you can spread out your blanket and have a picnic anywhere. Mr Stark said:
“The twist is if you don’t use disposable tableware,” he added.
think of the concept
You don’t need a theme for your dinner party.
“I’d start by asking the reason for entertainment,” says New York tableware designer Kim Seibert. “Is it the 4th of July, Labor Day, a birthday party, or something else? mosquito?”
Saybert might use a red, white, and blue palette for an Independence Day celebration, but for a birthday party, she aims to reflect the interests of the guest of honor. We went with a butterfly theme because people are so into natural history museums that have a butterfly section,” she said. For another party, she designed a table around bird-inspired elements.
Mr. Stark has designed outdoor events focused on lawn games such as badminton and croquet, as well as parties celebrating seasonal vegetables. At a recent event, he set the table to recall his stand at the market and decorated his arrangement of flowers with a mixture of peppers. Tomatoes in a pint-sized basket. “We relied on seasonal fresh produce, farmers’ markets and roadside farm stands,” he said. “There are all sorts of visual pleasures that come out of it.”
set the table
Al fresco dining tends to be more casual than indoor dining, so table setting is an opportunity to have some fun. Start with a tablecloth, runner, or placemat to create a fresh, clean surface and build up from there.
“Having a good foundation through textiles is essential,” said Shea. “Belgian linen is a proven summer fabric alongside cotton and canvas.”
She prefers simple tablecloths and napkins in textured solids and stripes, while other designers like Boothby and Devine use patterned designs for a fanciful touch.
Whatever you choose, it doesn’t have to be expensive. “You can go to a fabric store and buy yards and yards of beautiful fabric. It could be seersucker, flour sacks, or linen. said. Inexpensive tea towels bought in bulk as cloth napkins.
For tableware, cutlery, and glassware, we recommend using matching sets, with pieces in bright colors and patterns, or with earthy textures. Some even suggested using mismatched items.
“The collected table is the more interesting table,” said Zamaria. “That’s why she likes to use mismatched vintage china, the finest tarnished silver, etched crystals, tumblers, and cobblestone furniture. It looks effortless, but it’s also very uplifting.”
add a centerpiece
Finish the table with a decorative centerpiece. In summer, it should be easy. Flowers, branches, tall grass cut from the garden or forest, or purchased from a florist or deli can create tabletop magic.
A natural tendency is to pack the cuts in tall vases placed in the center of the table. This works well on round tables. However, it is often better to go long and low instead. When you have a rectangular table, try using a series of small vases placed along the length of the table.
“I usually like to make bud vases. I put small vases all over the table,” Seibert said.
Just like mismatched dinnerware, your little vase doesn’t have to be the same. Experiment with different size and height combinations to create animated displays. Choose pieces that share a common color or material and they all work together.
For an evening event, spread the candles or portable lanterns the length of the table as well. Candles may be a better option if you have children or on windy nights, says Zamaria.
include the unexpected
A beautiful tablescape invites guests to dine.
“I definitely love conversation starters,” said Seibert. It usually comes from adding something unexpected or whimsical. She has her rings of tapered striped and polka-dot patterns found on Etsy on the table, as well as carved figurines and napkins that resemble exotic birds.
Zamaria repurposes jars and chillers from her garden and uses part of a tree trunk as a rustic stool.
In At the Artisan’s Table, co-authored with Jane Schluck, Mr. Stark focuses on the handcrafted elements of the table and sometimes suggests trompe l’oeil. He set the table with paper flower arrangements (collaboration with artist Corrie Beth Hogg) and created place cards that resembled three-dimensional tomatoes.
But your table setting doesn’t have to be so elaborate. A sculptural vase, a deliberately imperfect plate or glass, or a unique pitcher or platter is enough to get most people talking. increase.
When your outdoor space is ready, don’t forget one of the most important things. Hosts should also enjoy themselves.
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