There’s something magical about eating alfresco. Whether it’s a leisurely breakfast, glorious afternoon lunch, or beautiful evening dinner — simply moving a meal into Mother Nature turns it into a celebratory affair.
While some will say there’s an art to creating the perfect outdoor dining experience, we like to think it comes down to a few basics: good food, fun guests, and comfortable patio furniture.
This three-part combo is what keeps you and your loved ones lingering — which is why we’ve put together our comprehensive guide to buying the best patio dining sets.
Step 1 — Find the Best Outdoor Dining Table for Your Space
Generally speaking, your outdoor table will be the centerpiece. And, it will set the mood for your outdoor dining experience. Do you want your gatherings to be more informal and intimate? A four-person round outdoor dining table could be perfect.
Would you like your meals to be larger and more formal? Then a longer outdoor dining table may be called for.
The key is to always consider how big your party size will be. Inviting someone over without a seat for them can be a bit of an embarrassment. Even if you don’t fill your table every time, having extra space can make it easier to move around, sit, and relax. It also gives you more flexibility for serving dinner ‘family-style.’
Use the following considerations as you consider your outdoor dining table options:
- How tall should your table be? Traditional dining tables are 28- to 30-inches. This height can comfortably accommodate more dining chairs.
- Do you want a more cocktail vibe? It may be that your outdoor dinners are more cocktail in nature, making traditional dining sets a bit too formal. A lower profile table, such as an outdoor coffee table that averages 16- to 18-inches may be better suited.
- What size table can your space accommodate? The size of Seattle patios ranges greatly. The good news is, the size of outdoor dining tables ranges greatly too! When you’re shopping for an outdoor dining set, you always want to make sure you measure your space so the table and chairs you purchase aren’t too big.
Step 2 — Select Outdoor Dining Charis that Work with Your Table and Patio
While a table is a focal point, it’s your outdoor seats that will really determine how enjoyable your outdoor dining experience is. Both you and your guests will want a comfortable place to linger over food and conversation.
Aesthetics aside, it’s important to prioritize comfort. The last thing you want is to drive people away with a stiff back.
Shopping for an outdoor dining table with matching chairs offers a classic, seamless look. If you’re looking for a more eclectic vibe, you might consider choosing chairs from a different line or even a different designer.
If you do decide to buy chairs from a different line, we recommend purchasing chairs in sets of two. This will help maintain a level of cohesiveness that is calming and aesthetically pleasing.
Use the following considerations when selecting your outdoor dining chairs:
- Make sure the chairs you select match the height of your table. If you decided to go with a traditional outdoor dining table, you’ll want to look for chairs that are roughly 18-inches tall.
- Consider the space needed for people to move around the table and chairs. You don’t want your chairs to be so big that they block the path from one end of the table to the other. (You want guests to be able to sit down!)
- Take stock of how many people you will want to seat.* You want to make sure you have a seat for everyone.
- Pick a color that will complement your outdoor dining table and outdoor space. An easy way to do this is to select chairs in a neutral color.
*You don’t have to buy a full set of ultra-cushioned chairs for your outdoor dining table. You may want to buy a few like this for your everyday use. You can supplement these seats with slimmer outdoor chairs that can easily be stored and brought out as needed. We’re particularly fond of the Kingsley Bate St. Tropez Dining line, which offers two different folding arm chairs.
Step 3 — Choose the Right Materials for Your Outdoor Dining Set
Outdoor dining sets come in a wide variety of materials. When you’re selecting the right material for your Seattle patio, there are several factors you’ll want to consider:
The Patio Dining Set’s Comfort
Our selection of outdoor patio furniture was carefully curated based on its durability, elegance, and comfort. That being said, everyone is different. The pieces that are the most comfortable for us, may not be the ones that are the most comfortable for you.
This is why when you’re shopping for any new piece of furniture, you should take the time to try it out. Go to the store and sit in the chairs, at the table you’re considering, for 10 - 15 minutes.
Bring a book if you want. Let the sales staff know what you’re doing. This is an investment. You deserve to make an educated decision.
The Patio Dining Set’s Durability
Not all outdoor furniture is created equally. One of the most durable patio furniture materials is teak. The wood is extremely dense with a high oil concentration, which makes it weather resistant and insect resistant. This is why it’s been used for centuries in the maritime industry.
The Patio Dining Set’s Maintenance
Don’t want to constantly be washing, sanding, and staining your outdoor patio table and chairs? Neither do we! In addition to teak, which naturally weather’s into a soft grey over time, some of our favorite low-maintenance materials include:
- All-Resin Wicker
- Powder Coated Aluminum
- Recycled Polymer
As you’re shopping, you want to think about not only how patio furniture will stand up to an onslaught from Mother Nature, but how easy it is to clean. Generally speaking, high-end patio furniture is rot resistant and can easily be cleaned with warm water, a soft sponge, and mild soap.
The Patio Dining Set’s Weight
There are some advantages to heavy patio furniture, mainly that Mother Nature isn’t likely to blow it away. If you’re worried about your patio dining set staying in one place, a heavy wrought iron table and chairs offer the sturdiest option.
However, the heavier your furniture, the harder it is to rearrange quickly. If you’re worried about being able to lift your chairs and/or tables, a lighter-weight mixed material, like the Kingsley Bate Marin, may be a good solution. With sturdy teak frames and lightweight sling seats, these elegant chairs are functional and portable.