With the climate getting cooler, it’s time to revamp your home’s outdoor dining zones – be it a patio, balcony or garden areas. From cocktail parties to intimate al fresco dinners, the outdoor eating area at home is the perfect spot to relish and enjoy special times together with loved ones.

Whether your home has a large garden, a tiny balcony or a backyard patio, the right furniture and décor can turn any space into a stylish dining nook. Here are handy tips to get this place ready to look the best for inviting your guests.

Choose durable furniture

Choose products considering the durability of items and the weather conditions, says Amit Yadav, Marketing Manager at 2XL Furniture & Home Décor. “As for the trends, rattan and wicker furniture, as well as cotton fabrics, continue to be in fashion. Align the exteriors elements with the entire personality of the house or apartment. There needs to be a seamless flow between inside and outside. Floral cushions, planters, and cane furniture are great additions to add life and create relaxed seating zones,” he adds.

Don’t overcrowd

You want to create an intimate and inviting dining area without crowding the space with oversized furniture. Yadav says, “Whether it is furniture, fixture or accessories each item must be chosen according to the available space. The size and style of the table should be proportionate to the space available. It is best to choose less for a bigger impact. Sleek tables work best or have two small tables which can be joined for bigger gatherings.”

Hridesh Methwani, Marketing Manager at PAN Emirates adds that extendable dining sets are great space-savvy furniture option available. “Create extra seating space by placing a few poufs and stools for accommodating more guests. Also, nesting tables will beautifully complement the seating ensemble.”

“Foldable, extendable items and furniture with storage space are best to consider. Make the outdoor space look open and airy with products made of natural materials like rattan and metal. Add more greenery and colourful items for an inviting setup. Place some plant pots, succulents, LED lamps, LED lightings, tiny pot fountains, creepers and sunbeds (in case of the pool), as these elevate comfort and liven up the vibe.”

Plan the placements

Maria Stepchenkova, Communication & Interior Design Activity Leader| IKEA UAE, QATAR, EGYPT says while choosing a dining table and chairs, keep minimum 60 cm between chairs and table to be able to walk around when people seat. “When placing the dining, consider where is the entrance to the area to make serving easy or get the serving trolley to move easily to serve the food. Also, have a parasol for shading the space. You may use an outdoor rug to create a cozy indoor feeling in your outdoor area.”

Table tricks

Stepchenkova advice is picking a theme and a colour scheme, considering your personality, style, the season, and the event itself. “Flatware is everything when you’re setting the table. Begin with the charger, building up to include the dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, bread plate, and cutlery for both dinner and dessert. For a sweet personal touch, wrap a book page around the cloth napkin.”

“You can use decorative items you already have in your home or flowers you’ve gathered from outdoors, but remember not to make your centrepieces too high. Create a balanced composition; arrange items in groups of odd numbers. And for the best possible culinary experience, say no to scented candles or highly fragrant flowers.”

Light and music

A little chilled out background music is always a bonus to set the scene, says Lynn Merry, Visual Merchandise Manager, ACE. “Portable outdoor speakers come in many varieties and can be discreetly placed to create a chilled-out lounge vibe.”

Any lighting is an absolute game-changer to transform the outdoor space entirely. “Think solar or electric chandeliers (attached or connected under gazebos), floor lamps and table lamps, string lights, a fire pit or patio heater and lots of candles, which will change your entire space completely. Solar or electric string lights can also be hung between trees or walls in the garden or balcony, under garden umbrellas or gazebos. You could even attach them to under edge of the dining table,” adds Merry.

If budget allows, have a decorative garden fountain close by your dining area, she adds. “The moving water can repel some insects while freshening the air and creating a relaxing, tranquil ambience for guests to enjoy.”

The shades

Merry believes outdoor dining means being at the mercy of changeable weather, especially in the winter months in the UAE, where there is sand, dust, rain and wind. So keep everyone relaxed, comfortable and somewhat protected with an appropriately sized umbrella with base, gazebo or pergola, she says. “It will ensure your outdoor space is shaded, especially useful when you have fully exposed areas and open balconies. And if your outdoor area is covered, you can keep all your utensils and table linens clean and tidy in a kitchen style trolley, boxes, and crates or make space in a storage shed or large garden storage box,” she adds.