Backyard ispo can be tricky business. You start off all positive and motivated, convinced you’re going to set up the perfect outdoor dining area where you can spend all summer. Before you know it, you feel like you’re falling down a pit of despair, consumed by envoy rather backyard inspo. Backyard inspo: Setting up the perfect outdoor dining area.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Those glossy magazines are lovely, but are they realistic for everyone? Of course not. The thing about backyard dining areas is that the more rustic they are, the better. Unless you have far too much time on your hands and you can pack up and cover all your outdoor furniture, it’s just not going to be practical to keep your outdoor furniture in pristine condition. While there are plenty of hardy materials that will last for years outside, they can be… well… quite hard.
You can make your outdoor dining space a bit more comfortable by using pillows covered with weather-resistant fabric – and by tucking these away during the colder months or when you know there’s a storm coming.
But not everyone’s backyard inspo vibe is galvanised metal. Wood is a favourite, but it will buckle and bulge after a few years, even with the best primer applied – it’s eco-friendly after all. You don’t have to spend a small fortune on outdoor furniture, though. Second-hand furniture works great outside - and you’ll be a step ahead of your outdoor space looking lived in.
Perfect is relative when it comes to setting up your outdoor dining area. But if you’re looking for a bit of backyard inspo to make this a vibe, we’re here to help.
Frame the view
Not everyone is blessed with rolling hills and luscious landscapes for dining outside. But there is always a focal point in your backyard. If there’s isn’t, maybe it’s your lovely face. Or maybe you should consider our backyard inspo for building your own flagstone walkway. Just like you do when taking a selfie, find the best angle for your backyard dining area and direct your table so that guests’ attention wanders in that direction.
Galvanised steel and metal useful for outdoor furniture, because it doesn’t need much to keep it in good condition. Unless you or your guests plan on being permanently inebriated, these can be uncomfortable – and they tend to be a bit grim in colour. This is where those removable pillows come in handy. And if you’re feeling brave, you can even apply a lick of paint to your outdoor furniture to make the colours pop.
We don’t want to go on about this, but really – don’t be afraid of furniture that looks like it’s been pre-loved. Some of the most enchanting gardens are the ones with a rustic look – almost literally. If you do have small humans joining you at the table, make sure that any wooden surfaces haven’t splintered (but encourage your guests to refrain from changing any nappies on the table). Literal rust can add an extra touch of this authenticity, just as long as it’s not a chair somebody is about to sit on. Unless it’s somebody you’re not too fond of, we won’t judge. Mix and match pre-loved furniture pieces and forget all the rules you thought you knew from those glossy magazines. Actually, while you’re at it, bring those magazines outside and throw them on the BBQ as fire starters.
Colours that pop
In the duller months when the seasons start to turn – or just before the summer season has turned and popped – adding some colour can make a real difference to your outdoor space. Bright chairs is the easiest way to bring some brightness to the backyard, so be bold – they’ll fade sooner than you think if you leave them outside anyway.
Green, green grass
Not that grass. Well, that grass if you want. Green foliage can make any outside space feel like an outdoor adventure. Even if you are limited on space, you using your garden smartly and planting efficiently for your space can be rewarding. It’s also a crafty way to nudge some more unsightly pieces out of sight of needs be. Whether you’re planting a seasonal veggie garden or planting to be a honey and do your bit for the bees, the grass is greener at the others ide of your backdoor.
It’s amazing what difference height can make. This nifty trick works well in any space. If you’re really crafty (or know somebody who is), you can even use this as a cunning way to create additional space by using the dining area as a sort of balcony loft. You don’t have to go digging a hole for a pool (this is backyard inspo, not a how to guide), but you can use elements, textures and even furniture to elevate your outside space. Second-hand furniture or upcycle items work very well here.
This little light of mine
Lighting outdoor spaces can be tricky. Opt for solar lights as the more eco-conscious option and keep the lights zoned in where possible. Add a few more accents to create a mood if you plan on carrying on into the late hours.
Not just for dinner
Your backyard inspo might be created with dinner in mind, but think about it as more than that. If you’re tight on space, you don’t have to indulge in a table large enough to be out of some pirate movie. A compact and cosy set up where you and bae or you and yourself can enjoy some time over a morning coffee or an afternoon croissant will help broaden your inspiration horizon for the perfect backyard set up.
Let the food do the talking
The reason everyone is outside is to eat. Nobody is going to remember that your wooden table wasn’t so pristine that you could change a baby bare bottom on it. Firstly, that’s gross, don’t do that. Secondly, it’s outdoors – it’s where outdoor things happen. Having things look a little wonky makes it real. With good food and good company – at a respectable social distance – it doesn’t matter that you’re sticking a piece of folded cardboard underneath the table leg. If somebody does make a fuss over that, you might want to divorce them as a friend or make sure they have more wine next time.