dining, entertaining

With the warm weather headed for Australia, it’s time to bring out the outdoor furniture, clean off the patio and dust off the picnic basket. There are no excuses to stay inside and forego the summer sunshine this year.

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When you’re eating outside, a rustic or eclectic style is fitting. If you have an outdoor space, like a patio or a backyard, all it takes is some minimal sprucing to set up a comfortable and chic dining area, whether it’s just you, your family, or a gathering of friends.

Simple, budget-friendly DIY tips

Whether you’re in a rush, on a budget, or you want to keep your sprucing simple, these quick tips are for you!

Furniture and dishes

Dining outside doesn’t require fancy furniture. Previously used indoor furniture can be repurposed and used as outdoor furniture with a fresh coat of paint or some added cushions. Even a wheelbarrow with a board on top or an old workbench can be used as a table.

In place of a tablecloth, use brown (or any colour) paper. It’s easy to clean up, you won’t ruin a tablecloth by using it outdoors, and it adds to the rustic, outdoor vibe. Using one color allows you to keep your tables looking uniform, even if they’re mismatched.

To keep the paper tablecloths from blowing away, use real dishes with some weight. They don’t need to be the same; any dishes in summery colors or floral patterns will add to the eclectic style of the outdoors.

If you need to seat a lot of people, opting for a bench in place of individual chairs can allow you to fit more people. Benches can also be used for multiple purposes – sit them next to a table for a meal, or around a fire pit for cocktails or cooking on the fire.

Antique outdoor furniture is often made of metal, and can be spruced up with a fresh coat of paint, and made both comfortable and modern with an added pillow or cushion.

Privacy and ambiance

If your outdoor space lacks a private patio or yard, or if it doesn’t have the style you want, you can build yourself a private, shady sanctuary with a few simple tools.

A large umbrella not only provides shade from the hot sun, it will also add a pop of colour and inject some of your personal style into your yard.

If you have a yard with neighbours nearby, or a patio that backs up to your home, planting a row of trees, bushes, or potted plants with some lattice can provide a privacy wall without installing a complete fence around your yard.

Sometimes, the heat and sun of the day is intense. Take advantage of the cooler evenings, and instead of running your air conditioning, head outdoors! A string of paper lanterns hung in the trees, or citronella candles can create the ambiance you’re looking for without attracting bugs. Battery operated candles may be a better option if you’re serving cocktails, but citronella candles or a fire may help ward off bugs.

If you have room in your yard or on your patio, a small fire pit or a chiminea can provide light and heat while providing more protection than an open bonfire.

The portable outdoor meal

Whether you’re traveling, short on time, or haven’t updated your outdoor space at home, picnics are a great way to have a portable outdoor meal anywhere, at any time. All you need is a blanket, a bag or basket, and a few simple tools and easy meals.

Remember: Enjoying the summer outdoors are about having fun! Your personal style and DIY spirit is all you need to share a meal with your loved ones out in the fresh air.

By Marcus Fulker, the managing director of Great Aussie Patios, Perth’s leading patio builder and design company since 2000. Connect with Marcus on Google+.

Image via Flickr.com