9 of the best outdoor dining sets

In preparation for the warmer weather, Karen Bray looks at the most stylish ways to dine alfresco with the latest garden dining sets

TODO alt text

Table, £1,395,H73xW240xD95cm, dining chairs, £235 each, armchairs £260 each, from Neptune

With the prospect of a glorious British summer ahead, now is a great time to review your garden, and create a garden dining space that will ensure you make the most of the warmer months. Purchasing the right garden furniture is a must, but with so many styles and materials to choose from, where do you start?

Size and location

The first thing to consider is the size of the space you have to work with. A large solid wood dining table and chairs may be a dream purchase, but they will overwhelm a small garden or patio area and provide little room for manoeuvre. So make sure you are realistic about the size of the table and chairs you choose and check all the measurements carefully.

Outdoor furniture comes in many sizes and layouts. There are also versions that fold away for easy storage and flexibility.

Materials and upkeep

If wooden outdoor dining sets are on your wishlist, there are plenty of designs to choose from. Always check to see if the product is made from wood sourced responsibly and from forests certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Hardwood products are pretty hardwearing, but make sure you clean them thoroughly after the summer and treat with a wood oil or preservative. Softwoods are more fragile and need a bit of TLC, so treat them on a regular basis.

Metal outdoor dining sets have a more contemporary feel, are great value for money, and their lightweight structure means they are easier to move around and store away. They are also simpler to maintain, being wipe-clean, ready for the next use.

For the ultimate in style and comfort, rattan or wicker outdoor dining sets are a wonderful investment, and the natural material is a great way to blur the boundaries between a garden room or conservatory and the garden itself.

Where possible, either store your furniture indoors or cover it up so that it’s not exposed to the elements. Then for a quick, seasonal update, simply add the latest cushions and table linen in bright, cheerful colours.

Traditional favourite

With chic lines to extend the refined feel of a period home into the garden, the new Nordina collection from Marks & Spencer features this extending wooden dining set, £649, which includes a table, H76xW212.5xD90cm, two stacking chairs and four folding chairs. Made from warm honey- coloured wood in an elegant yet functional design, it will set the scene for dining alfresco in style.


Relaxing rattan

Find the perfect place to unwind with this lightweight weather-resistant rattan design from Dunelm. The Portland three-piece bistro set, £99.99, has a tempered glass-top table, H74xDia.70cm, and two stylish basket-weave chairs, H87xW60xD51cm. Created for instant outdoor entertaining, the soft neutral graphite shade will blend seamlessly with your outside space.


Retro feel

Perfect for brunch or afternoon tea, Laura Ashley’s Bedgebury blue rattan table, H69xDia.80cm, £300, and matching chairs, H84xW49xD55cm, £200 each, add a charming vintage feel to a patio area. With a cane frame and rattan top/seats, this design comes in three colourways and is only suitable for occasional outdoor use, so should be stored indoors.


English garden style

A dining set to fit the whole family around, the Rissington 1640 table, £1,595 by Oxley at The Chelsea Gardener, is made with a single piece of cast aluminium using traditional techniques, and measures H75x W164xD109cm. With matching chair, £310, and armchair, £330, both H90xW52xD48cm, all Oxley’s furniture is handmade to order in a choice of 16 colours.


Reclaimed teak

This ingenious Round St Mawes drinks/planter table from Garden Trading, H78xDia.130cm, comes complete with a central aluminium bowl, ideal for filling with ice to keep drinks chilled, or for planting herbs to create the perfect alfresco centrepiece. Made from hardwearing reclaimed teak, the table comes with four rattan Chilgrove chairs, H89xW62x D60cm. £1,300 for the set.


Rustic dining set in pine 

Sit back and appreciate the simple things in life with Cox & Cox’s Natural Wood dining set, £600. Consisting of a rectangular table, H76xW150xD74xcm; bench, H99xW113x D41cm; and two chairs, H99xW44xD41cm, this delightful slatted set is constructed from weather-resistant lime pine wood with aged metal legs for a rustic look. Each piece also folds flat so it is easy to move and store during periods of inclement weather.


Wood and wicker

Mix and match natural materials of wood and wicker for a timeless look that oozes style and sophistication. The Sydney eight-seater set, £1,699 from BHS, consists of a large solid teak table, H77xW235xD119cm, and eight comfy wicker dining chairs, H50xW67xD81cm, that will create an idyllic setting for entertaining in a large garden. Continue the natural theme and create an elegant ambience with earthenware crockery, sparkling glasses and cosy wool throws for when the nights draw in.


Tropical style

Reproduce an exotic-themed oasis inspired by this summer’s Brazil Olympics with Dobbies’ stylish woven wicker Shrewbury six-seater outdoor dining sets with parasol, £899. Surround the glass-topped table, H75xW140xD140cm, and comfy armchairs, H90xW49xD59cm, with potted palms and foliage, and introduce colourful tableware, not forgetting a state-of-the-art BBQ, such as this A-frame chimenea with cooking grill, £399.


Read more: