Sociable dining sets for entertaining in the garden

Fling open the doors, pop up your parasol and dust off your seat pads - it's time to invest in one of the latest outdoor dining sets for alfresco lunches and stylish soirees

1 Traditional style

You can’t go wrongwith a classic wooden dining table and stackable chairs. Go for simple lines in FSC-certified eucalyptus and an oak finish to create an elegant aesthetic that will suit any garden. Choose an extending table so that it can cater for any occasion, from a relaxed breakfast to a dinner party for a large group of friends and family. Position it under a tree to create a shady sanctuary that you’ll want to use all summer long.

2 Laid-back looks

Choosing an informal dining set that is suitable for inside and out, such as the Islay 6-seater dining table and 2 benches, £899, from John Lewis, allows for key pieces to be transferred outside when entertaining alfresco.‘Everyone wants to make the most of the sunshine and create beautiful outdoor spaces that become an extension of their living area,’ explainsElaine Flynn, Assistant Buyer at John Lewis. ‘Blurring the boundaries between inside and out means that entertaining is no longer confined to one area and now involves using the kitchen, dining area and outdoor spaces to create a flow though the home.’

3 In harmony

Celebrity gardener David Domoney has created an exclusive range of outdoor furniture with Hartman that works in harmony with your garden,taking inspiration from the forms and motifs found in nature. ‘I believe patio furniture should feel like part of the garden,’ David explains. ‘So I designed the Celtic range with an open pattern, featuring growing branches and twirling leaves, that directs the eye through the furniture, subtly harmonisingwith the rest of the garden and adding to the illusion of space.’ Celtic cast aluminium rectangular 6-seater dining set, £1,199.99, Hartman.

4 Versatile solution

‘The new range of Murcia outdoor furniture from Dobbies is a versatile option that can be easily styled to suit different tastes – from laidback coastal to classic country garden,’ explains Craig Roman, Head of Visual Merchandising at Dobbies. ‘The natural rattan dining set will provide ample room for an afternoon tea in the garden with friends and family, or simply a place to rest after a busy day. Add a selection of painterly floral cushions to inject a burst of colour and hang outdoor lights to cast a warm and welcoming glow once the sun goes down.’ Murcia 4-seat set, £999;cushions, £14.99 each; multi-coloured retro solar lights, £29.99, all Dobbies.

5 Spot of glamour

Create an outdoor dining room under a covered area and include a candle chandelier. ‘To make the most of eating outdoors, you need the right size table,’ says Neptune’s John Sims-Hilditch. ‘This concrete design has space for a large party. Also generous-sized, sturdy seats with cushions mean everyone will happily sit and chat long after sunset.’

6 Table for two

Transform a corner of your garden into a charming and relaxed summertimeretreat with a bistro set made for two. It’s the perfect place for a sunny laid-back breakfast, an intimate tête-à-tête, or a relaxed glass of wine to help you make the most of the lighter, warmer evenings. Bistro sets are ideal for smaller gardens, patios or decking, and this Provence Bistro Set in Dove Grey, £425, from Cox & Cox, will help bring a touch of elegant French style to your alfresco dining experience.

7 Industrial edge

If you’re looking for a more contemporary design to smarten up your garden this summer, take a look at the Chilson Table and Bench set, £1,800, from Garden Trading. With tops made from cement fibre sitting on acacia wood frames and legs, its streamlined design will add a smart industrial edge to your outdoor space. The sharp contrast of its clean modern lines set against a rural country backdrop will create a striking style statement and bench seating means guests can squeeze up to accommodate last-minute additions or surprise visitors!

8 Wise investment

Good quality outdoor furniture made from hardwood is worth the investmentas it can withstand exposure to extreme weather conditions, and with just a minimum amount of care and maintenance, can last a lifetime. This Kempton Oval Extending 6 Seat Suite £2,000, from Notcutts, is made from Bramblecrest teak, a dense close-grained hardwood that naturally contains high levels of oil, and is synonymous with longevity. The set comes complete with water resistant outdoor cushions and a traditional wooden parasol,making it a practical choice for your garden, whatever the weather.

For more inspiring home improvement ideas and projects, visit the Country Homes & Interiors website.

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