There’s something truly magical about dining outdoors. Whether it’s breakfast on the patio, a picnic lunch on the lawn, tea on the terrace, or a fancy supper on a balmy summer evening – feasting alfresco makes happy moments with friends and family all the more memorable.
Whether you’re planning a complete garden redesign, or want to incorporate a outdoor dining area into an existing garden, we’ve gathered plenty of inspiration to whet your appetite, from the secluded corners of cottage gardens to lunch spots with breathtaking views and pretty country summerhouses.
1. Cottage courtyard
Small is beautiful, as this idyllic little cottage patio proves. Overlooked by a pretty blossom tree, it’s a magical space for spring brunches. For similar striped seat pads try Garden Trading.
2. Family space
Nestled within the L-shape of this beautiful country house and complete with a rustic table and bench set for family use all year round, this patio really feels like an extension of the living space. For similar furniture try Garden Trading .
3. Pretty cottage perch
With plenty of small bistro dining sets available you can make the most of even the most modest of patio spaces, whether it's for supper for two or a perch for some much needed gardening refreshment. For a similar option to this wooden bistro set, try customising Ikea’s TÄRNÖ design with a lick of paint and adding some pretty cushions.
4. Lunch on the veranda
Dating back to the 15th century, but remodelled in the 17th, this former priory boasts a beautiful loggia perfect for admiring the garden over lunch. Classic white wrought iron garden furniture looks beautiful set against the red brick, for similar try Lorfords Antiques.
5. Cotswold charm
Re-landscaped with beautiful honeyed drystone walling, this sunken patio beautifully complements the rustic charm of this renovated Cotswold cottage. With its charming rustic patina this vintage bistro set is the perfect fit.
6. Sunset suppers on the Suffolk coast
Perched at the top of this long, wild, cottage garden is a perfectly placed dining table and chairs. Surrounded on three sides by the garden and countryside, it is a beautiful place to watch the sun set, and enjoy a glass of wine after a meal. Set on the Sandlings peninsula, a stone’s throw from the sea, it is also a brilliant place for breakfast in the garden — a refreshing start to any day.
7. Lunch beneath the loggia
This beautifully constructed loggia with Cotswold stone columns, added to a grade II-listed home in 2010, offers a perfect shaded spot for lunching on a hot summer’s day. A talented artist with a penchant for colour, the homeowner has added pops of colour with plenty of potted plants, deck-chair stripe bunting and even plates on the wall. To create a magical mood and keep warm after dark there’s also an outdoor fireplace, fitted pendant lamp and wall sconces for candles.
8. Hot tropics
There’s no better end to a warm summer’s day than a relaxed meal with friends and family. For a laid-back festival vibe, try creating an impromptu table from a few salvaged crates and layering plenty of colourful fabrics and cushions to create a comfy hang out. Covered in tropical-inspired prints in a palette of paprika, fuchsia, teal and lime, Harlequin’s Zapara collection really captures the holiday mood. From £38 per metre.
9. Lakeside summerhouse
If you’re lucky enough to have a lake, or any water feature in your garden, take the opportunity to watch the wildlife it attracts, by creating a wonderful outdoor dining area at the water’s edge. A wall of bi-fold doors in this summerhouse open out on to a covered veranda, where a rattan outdoor dining set presents a wonderfully secluded spot.
10. Tree-top retreat
Set amid the dappled shade of the tree-tops and boasting beautiful birds-eye vistas, the raised deck adjoining this stunning Somerset country home makes for a magical outdoor dining setting. Vintage flower-filled planters and a vase of garden flowers make it even more idyllic.
11. Dinner with dramatic views
When William James bought his house in the Dordogne region of France, he invested in the land opposite the house, too, where he has created a terraced garden. To make the most of the dramatic views over the French countryside, he included a private but spectacular alfresco dining area, surrounded by David Austin roses that William planted himself, and among which he often has tea on a summer afternoon.
12. Secluded cottage setting
Surrounded by tall trees and a bustle of hollyhocks, climbing roses, lilac bushes and other cottage-garden favourites, the secluded patio of this old village bakery would make a dreamy spot for afternoon tea with friends, and maybe a few feathered visitors!
13. Victorian veranda
What Victorian veranda would be complete without an ornate, wrought iron breakfast table with matching chairs? Enjoy a relaxing start to your day, and admire your garden in the freshness of morning, breakfasting at an outdoor dining table. It also makes the perfect little perch where a gardener can pull up a seat for a lunch break, or enjoy a coffee and survey their hard work.
14. The mill house garden
Oh to have a lake in your back garden! Conjuring picturesque Capability-Brown vistas, the magnificent grounds of this renovated Victorian watermill offer a breathtaking backdrop for garden parties. A vintage wrought iron garden table teamed with traditional benches (for similar try Barlow Tyrie's Sissinghurst design) are the perfect traditional pieces to sit and admire the view.
15. Cosy country summerhouse
Whether it’s a space to socialise, or to enjoy quiet moments of reflection, a summerhouse is a brilliant way to make the most of your garden – all you need is
a lick of paint and some pretty fabrics to bring it to life. Offering a beautiful mix of prints based on her family’s original art, Vanessa Arbuthnott’s Artist's linens (£52 per metre) are perfect for creating a folksy feel. Opt for pinks, reds and yellows teamed with pea green paint for a cheery summer palette.
16. Lakeside Scandi supper
What could be more romantic then dining on the shores of a Swedish lake? Echo
the serenity of this natural setting with the classic silhouettes of Scandinavian furniture teamed with rustic materials and textures. Danish brand House Doctor has the ideal pieces to achieve the look, including these Walker chairs, £144, linen tablecloths, £96 each, simple ceramics, from £5.75, and rattan accessories, from £54 for a set of three baskets.