Garden table ideas – 15 stylish seating arrangements to elevate your outside space

Whether you’ve got a patio, balcony, terrace or outdoor deck, find garden table ideas to suit your space

If warmer weather and long weekends in the garden have got you thinking about your outdoor space, then garden table ideas are sure to be on the agenda. Whether you’re planning to revamp your plot with a new look, want to switch a shabby garden table for something more swish, or need to upgrade a too-small dining table for a family-sized model, there are plenty of stylish options to choose from.

Garden table ideas

Size and shape is key when choosing a garden table to ensure it suits the layout and fits the size and floor plan of your plot. Be guided by the style of your outdoor space or outdoor kitchen idea, the landscaping and any existing lines and features when choosing an outdoor table and chairs. If there are lots of curves and circular shapes, then a round or oval shaped table might suit the space best. If the garden is quite linear or angular, then a square or rectangular-sized table could work better.

1. Invest in a family-sized dining table

outdoor home with patio area with round table and chair and outdoor

(Image credit: Bridgman)

If you’ve an expansive patio area or a large family to cater for, it’s worth choosing a generously-sized table to make full use of your outdoor space and ensure that there’s a seat for everyone when you enjoy a best BBQ. An oval-shaped table will provide extra length that works well on a long or wide patio. The curved ends help to create a better sense of flow.

Choose a semi-sheltered spot so that you can enjoy the garden whatever the weather. If there's no natural shade, invest in a table with parasol that will provide shelter when the sun is at its hottest. A safety glass top is easy to clean after rain or accidental spills and has a neat parasol cut-out section.

Buy now: Mayfair oval dining table, £1069, Bridgman

2. Pick a practical finish

outdoor dining area with dining table with grey chairs

(Image credit: Furniture Village)

The best garden furniture can come in for a hammering from rain and hot sun, so it pays to opt for robust pieces in weatherproof materials if furniture is to be left outdoors all summer long.

This sturdy extra-long outdoor dining table has a powder-coated aluminium frame that won’t rust, plus a durable concrete-effect ceramic top that is both water and scratch-resistant. Matching seat cushions are made from a quick-drying synthetic fabric that won’t stain or go mouldy with micro-porous fillings that allow water to drain away.

Buy now: Ravello six-seater garden dining set, £3499, Furniture Village

3. Relax with shapely woven furniture

outdoor dining table area with dining table and chair and wooden floor

(Image credit: Neptune)

If comfort is key, woven chairs are a top choice as weaves are flexible, contoured and have more give in them than hard wood or metal seating. Opt for shapely woven armchairs with high backs and armrests that’ll provide extra support. Then supplement with thick cushioned seats that make chairs super-comfortable to sit on.

‘All weather’ woven furniture looks just like real wicker to give a relaxed, rustic look, but is made from woven resin fibre that is weather-resistant and quick-drying so furniture won’t perish when left outdoors.

Buy now: Harrington carver chairs, £445 each; Pembrey dining table, £1995; Neptune

4. Squeeze in a few more seats

outdoor dining area with stone brick wall and dining table and chair bench

(Image credit: B&Q)

Mix-and-match seating around a long wooden table creates a relaxed look and easygoing vibe outdoors. A combination of chairs and bench garden seating ideas is a practical choice with little ones as you can squeeze more bottoms on seats. And if guests drop by unexpectedly it's easy enough to pull up another pew.

Wooden furniture is fine to leave out in the garden all year round, though the wood will weather to a silvery grey finish in time. When looking at how to clean garden furniture at the end of each season and treat with a wood preserver. This revives the finish and prolongs the life of your furniture.

Buy now: Denia six seater dining set, from £403, B&Q

5. Save space with a neat circular table

outdoor dining table and chair and light bulbs

(Image credit: JYSK)

Perfect for small garden ideas where space is tight, a circular table and chairs is a great way of fitting in a dining table area without overcrowding patio space. Curved edges give a circular table a smaller footprint that takes up less space than a square table. They're also easier to walk around with no hard corners to knock into. Opt for a table with a pedestal base to give greater leg room underneath. Then choose armless chairs instead of bulky carver chairs with arms.

Buy now: Rangstrup dining table, £229.99, JYSK

6. Opt for sociable circular seating

garden area with dining set and trees

(Image credit: Oka)

Even if lack of outdoor space isn’t a problem, circular tables are a great choice if you want to create a more relaxed, sociable atmosphere outdoors. Curved bench seating nestled around a table feels comfortable and inviting and with guests seated across from each other it’s easier to chat and make conversation.

While round tables provide a generous amount of tabletop surface space, adding a lazy susan or revolving tabletop can be helpful for alfresco mealtimes or playing host from your garden bar idea.

Buy now: Orseno dining set, £3995, Oka

7. Carve out a corner

garden area with corner sofa and table and wooden floor

(Image credit: Dobbies)

In larger gardens, it can help to divide the space up into smaller break-out zones, for dining, cooking or relaxation. Instead of relying on hard garden landscaping ideas or screening to section off the space, a corner-shaped seating arrangement will create a more natural, visual divide that feels more relaxed and free-flowing.

Rig up a simple outdoor sail to provide shade outdoors when the weather is warm. Use sturdy poles or the branches of a nearby tree to secure.

Buy now: Alps dining set, £1899, Dobbies

8. Double up with outdoor benches

dining area with dining table grey chairs and wooden floor

(Image credit: Next)

Opt for multifunctional furniture to make the most of limited space outdoors. A compact L-shaped seating set-up can be tucked into a corner plot without crowding the space and will provide more seating than an individual table and chairs.

Shift the dining table to one side and upholstered benches come in handy as footrests when lounging outdoors or can be tucked neatly under a table when not in use.

Buy now: Mauritius seven-seater corner seating set, £1299, Next

9. Save space with stacking chairs

garden area with white chairs

(Image credit: Go Modern)

With a compact outdoor set-up, such as a small patio idea or balcony, space-saving furniture is a must. Lightweight metal tables and chairs are easier to shift around than heavy wooden furniture or bulky woven pieces. Stackable chairs will take up less floor space when not in use or stored in a garden shed out of season.

Buy now: Fast Zebra garden table, £570; garden armchairs, £495 each, Go Modern

10. Choose foldaway furniture

garden area with dining table and chair and wooden floor

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

If space doesn’t allow for a garden table and chairs to be set up permanently outdoors, then folding furniture offers a practical option as table and chairs can be packed flat and tucked away in a shed or garage when not being used or over the winter months.

If you’re likely to be moving furniture in and out frequently, opt for lighter-weight metal or aluminium pieces that are easy to lift and shift around. Tables that fold in half are easy to move and won’t require much stowing space. Alternatively, opt for one that folds flat with the top in one section, although these designs are a little more cumbersome to carry.

Buy now: Rive Droite bistro set, £300, Garden Trading

11. Square up with a table for two

outdoor dining area with stone wall and bistro set and wooden floor

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Perfect for a small patio or terrace, a compact, square-shaped table can offer a little more tabletop space than a standard bistro table and can seat four people at a push.

Another option that’s worth considering with square-shaped tables is to have a couple dotted around a medium-sized garden, on a patio, deck or barbecue area. If you should require extra space for guests, two or three square tables can be butted together to create one long dining table to entertain at.

Buy now: Coyle square bistro set, £309.99, Wayfair

12. Move up a level

garden area with hanging light bulbs and dining table and chairs

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Instead of a regular outdoor dining table and chairs, opt for a bar-style raised seating set-up. Perfect for alfresco entertaining, a longline bar table makes a great social spot for guests to gather around or could do double duty as a serving station for drinks and cocktails for garden party ideas.

Though longer in length and height, a bar table also makes a great option if patio space is tight, as bar stools can be neatly tucked away under the table when not in use, so it won’t obstruct the flow of traffic outdoors.

Buy now: Alps bar set, £1599, Dobbies

13. Find the perfect fit

outdoor coffee table with chairs

(Image credit: B&Q)

However large or small your space is, there’s nothing nicer than being able to breakfast outdoors or enjoy a late-night glass of wine. A compact bistro set will provide space for two on a balcony or compact patio and most designs are foldable or stackable so won’t impact on floor space when not being used. This clever all-weather rattan set is shaped so that all three parts stack on top of one another, so it’ll take up minimal space out of season.

Buy now: GoodHome Pilares rattan effect two-seater coffee set, £340, B&Q

14. Chill out while you dine

garden area with grey chairs and table and corner bench with cushions

(Image credit: Danetti)

There’s nothing nicer than enjoying a chilled glass of bubbly on a warm summer’s afternoon. Save trekking in and out to the fridge by investing in a luxe dining table with built-in ice cooler.

Ensuring that your favourite tipple is always within reach, the central drinks bucket can be easily removed for emptying and cleaning and when not in use there’s a neat cover that sits flush with the table top so the whole surface of the table can be used.

Buy now: Rio grey table with Savannah corner bench and chairs set, £3601, Danetti

15. Create a cosy focal point

garden area with dining table and corner bench with cushions and hanging light bulbs

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

Stay warm long after the sun has gone down with a blazing fire pit at the heart of your gathering. Creating the perfect chill-out spot for evenings outdoors, this two-in-one combo includes a corner-shaped sofa, benches and table, with a luxe built-in fire pit at its centre.

Guaranteed to elevate the evening ambience in an instant, the gas fire pit has an adjustable flame and glass safety fireguard, plus plenty of space around the edge of the table for resting drinks and nibbles.

Buy now: Stockholm corner dining set with fire pit, £3295,

What is the best material for outdoor tables?

‘If you are looking for wood, then acacia is a good-wearing option that is used in ship-building,’ says Dani Taylor, Product and Creative Director at Cox & Cox. ‘For a metal option, choose aluminium as it’s light, lasts a long time and doesn’t rust. Most cushions are waterproof – or showerproof – but you should try to bring them in over the wetter months and cover the frames of your furniture with a breathable outdoor furniture cover.’ 

What is a good tabletop for outdoors?

A simple glass tabletop is elegant and practical option for outdoor use, plus it's easy to clean after having guests over, says Ideal Home's Ginevra Benedetti. Aluminium and ceramic are also durable and weather-resistant choices.

Can any table be used outdoors?

Indoor furniture treated with a sealant or exterior paint will be fine placed on a covered patio area. But if you want to leave it out all the time, it's better to opt for furniture that's designed to withstand the elements. Exposure to the sun and moisture can damage indoor furniture over time.

If you have an old dining table you don't mind getting a bit weathered then there's no problem with using it outside, but expect it to take on a new rustic look.

Lisa Fazzani
Deputy Editor

Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.