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Dine alfresco

Raise your host game with the perfect patio dining space

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Small touches like patterned accent pillows add personality to your space.

Longer days mean more sun. Add an umbrella to offer guests a shaded seat.

From savoury barbecued meat to crisp salads, food simply tastes better outside. Whether you’ve got an entire yard or a small deck to host your guests, you want to make the most of the space.

Kelly Stuart, owner of Halifax-based Inspiring Décor, says to view your outdoor space as an extension of your home.

“Many, if not most of us have decks, terraces, or outdoor spaces that you see from inside,” Stuart says. “I always try to make that space a continuation of what you see inside the house. You want to make it warm and inviting so that you feel inclined to spend time there for any reason, whether that means enjoying your morning coffee or reading a book.”

In creating the ideal outdoor space, Stuart recommends starting from the ground and working your way up. “Starting with a rug allows you to create a pallet where everything can work together,” she says.

“From there, consider what style of table and chairs to use, then add your dishes, cutlery, and maybe even a bar cart to help free up table top space. They are a great way to serve food and drinks when you’re entertaining.”

Stuart says an especially important consideration in chair selection is to ensure the materials are appropriate for the climate you’re living in.

Small touches like patterned accent pillows add personality to your space.

“When I select furniture for the outside, our climate largely dictates what I’m going to consider. Outdoor furniture has come a long way over the years, but it’s best not to leave things to chance when it comes to considering what will be able to withstand the weather.”

Kim Jakobsen of Saint John, N.B-based Kim Jakobsen Design says while coming up with the perfect array of features for an outdoor space may intimidate some, a little planning goes a long way.

“It really helps to plan ahead and think about the space when creating an outdoor oasis,” Jakobsen says. “Many opt to create a nice conversation circle with your favourite comfy style of chairs and add layers with pillows, rugs, and throws for cool nights. It’s all about layering. Choose a colour and then add some accents colours, patterns to make it fun.”

When deciding on the style of tables and chairs to use, glass, concrete, wood, or metal, Jakobsen recommends choosing a material and size that will complement your space while also ensuring there is adequate seating for the number of guests you’ll routinely host.

Jakobsen says retailers including Kent, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Pier 1 Imports, and HomeSense carry a wide array of styles and will more than likely have something to suit every taste and budget.

“Another consideration for creating the perfect outdoor space is to add an umbrella for shade or canvas sails for an especially windy location,” says Jakobsen. “I also like to add tropical plants alongside my potted annuals to help increase privacy.”

Even summer nights get chilly. Make your guests comfortable with blankets and a heat source.

Even summer nights get chilly. Make your guests comfortable with blankets and a heat source.

The last step is to extend your time outside with lighting, says Stuart. String lights and lanterns are available in a range of options that runs from cheap and cheerful to long lasting.

Jakobsen suggests adding warmth to an outdoor space is ideal for those cool summer evenings.

“A good fire table helps provide a warmth and glow to the surroundings, but you can also look at a propane gas pit, or the table-top variety. They are all great ways to create a warm atmosphere and glow that never fails to attract people.”

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