• Marie Bateson

How To Create The Perfect Outdoor Dining Space

Well, perfect in my eyes, but that doesn't make for a Pinterest-worthy title, does it?!

One of the reasons we moved to Valencia is that the weather is absolutely delightful for most of the year: sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine. Because of this, an outdoor dining space is one of the areas of your home that will be used the most.

Our current flat is an 8th floor duplex with a massive roof terrace. It's got gorgeous sea views but there are some drawbacks, such as a twisty little spiral staircase that needs to be navigated each time you remember you left a utensil or condiment in the kitchen downstairs. I'm really looking forward to having the kitchen and the outdoor dining area on the same level in our new home.

Despite the gorgeous weather here in Valencia, we do sometimes get high winds, rain and a lot of dust. I'm one of the laziest homemakers out there, so the last thing I want to be doing is adding a difficult-to-clean area to our home. This means easy-to-clean, durable flooring and furniture is the crucial first step in designing our outdoor dining space.

For the flooring, I'm partial to a bit of decorative tile, such as this stand out beauty:

Photo Source

One of the wonderful things about a patterned floor is that it hides a bit of grime very well. However, it also dictates the rest of the look of your patio and isn't exactly easy to swap out, so you have to make sure you love it. I'd avoid a table such as the one above, no matter how nicely it goes with the tile, simply because I HATE those cracks in dining table surfaces. Food always gets lodged in them, attracting ants and other nasties.

Our current outdoor dining table has this feature which means we always end up using tablecloths. The problem with this is that the winds in Valencia can really pick up by the beach, especially in the afternoon. I wish I'd spotted these cute little tablecloth weights before - we've been using plastic tablecloth clips but they have become brittle in the sunlight and snap regularly.

The ones above are from one of Westwing's pop-up sales, but I've seen an almost identical set on Amazon for half the price. (The Amazon links in my posts are affiliate links - explanation and disclaimer here)

Lighting is another one of those crucial elements. Obviously not so much during the day thanks to that omnipresent Valencian sun, but in the evening, the perfect low lighting will make those summer party guests linger longer. I'm thinking of stringing something like this above or near our table.

Photo Source

These light garlands look pretty sturdy and are currently on sale which is always a bonus. Candles are one of those elements that really add to the ambiance but, with young kids, I'm nervous about the fire hazard. Buuuut, speaking of a fire hazard I would absolutely love to have a fire pit or chiminea like this one in our terrace. There may be quite a few years between us and our Neanderthal brethren, but people nowadays are still drawn to fire like cavemen.

Another crucial outdoor dining element is comfort. While the setting above is absolutely beautiful, it would be so much more so if it didn't involve pokey hard benches. The same goes for the cute little seating area below. I love the bright colours, but you know that you'd last about 2 minutes on those chairs before wishing you were sitting on literally anything else - a pointy boulder, a rhino's horn, anything.

Also, I know this seating arrangement is styled for the photo, but I find it really distracting when it's unrealistic. Who's going to sit on that bench if there are potted plants bopping them in the back of the head?

Photo Source

One of the most charming characteristics of eating outdoors is being surrounded by nature. This lovely idea very soon becomes torturous when nature equates to mosquitoes and allergy-inducing foliage, but it sure looks pretty. I love a table setting with fresh flowers but my husband is allergic (or maybe that's just his excuse for never buying me flowers?!) so we'd have to rely on fake ones. Fortunately, there are loads of realistic looking silk flowers on the market now, and using fake ones also means I can have peonies year round! But only in low little vases as pictured below. I can't stand when the flower arrangements on a table block you from the person sitting across from you.

Photo Source - Dave Lastovskiy via Unsplash

In fact, despite the food-trapping cracks in the table above, I think that photo really sums up the best of summer dinner parties.

I can't wait.

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