Dining outdoors is irresistible with a spot as cool as this. "Silver Sheen" hedges define the outdoor dining/work space, and wisteria vines cover the arbor. Though it doesn't look like it, the understated dining set came from a garage sale and the chic chandelier came from Ikea.
Bamboo furniture creates a retro-chic dining porch in this coastal home. Update a vintage dining set with a fresh coat of white paint, and pick one accent color, such as sea green, shown here.
A piazza is a must-have room in a Charleston home, and a deep-set space like this one allows indoor furnishings to appear outdoors. Seating arrangement is the focal point of this space as it allows everyone to gather comfortably. Potted plants and flowers help bridge the indoor areas with the outdoor ones.
A filigreed gazebo turns this side yard into an enchanting setting for alfresco dining. The airy, 11-foot-tall, rusted-iron structure was found at a local nursery for less than $1,000.
A candle chandelier and a pair of tall candle stands were added for nighttime ambience. To make an intriguing "rug," the landscape designer glued 12-inch mosaic marble tiles to cast-concrete squares, filling spaces between them with decomposed granite.
Accessible to the indoors through a pair of French doors, the side porch functions much like an interior room, complete with comfortable seating, durable outdoor rugs, and other outdoor-friendly furniture. Inspired by Charleston side porches, it provides a great place to socialize with neighbors or to take in the fresh air while reading a book.
To create this look:
Buy a weather-resistant rug for a touch of color in your outdoor room.
Have a buffet or bench custom built to fit your style.
If wiring your patio for more lighting is not in your budget, try hanging glass lanterns from heavy-gauge wire. Fill lanterns with candles, and get your al fresco party glowing.
From Southern Living Room-by-Room Makeovers
A picnic table and a pair of Adirondack chairs ensure everyone is comfortable, and red accents really spice up the space.
This deck-turned-veranda owned by design duo Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan in Shelter Island, New York, is dedicated to lounging and relaxed meals. Rustic bamboo shades along the edges of the veranda roof can be raised and lowered for privacy or for shade. Bold patterns and colors on the built-in bench feel daring and young.
A walkway in the front entry of this Tucson, Arizona home snakes from the curb to three curved, freestanding walls that enclose a patio. The planting areas inside all have serpentine contours as well, echoing the shape of the walls.
The main hues on the walls are shades of purple — Valhalla and Venice Lavender by Frazee Paint — chosen because they reflect the tones of the surrounding mountains at dusk. Casino Green and Red Alert provide accents.
Design: Margaret Joplin, Design Collaborations, Tucson (www.designcollaborations.com or 520/623-8068).
Resource: Frazee Paint (www.frazeepaint.com or 800/477-9991).
Muted purples and gray blues of slate tiles add texture and warmth to the terrace and fireplace of this outdoor room overlooking a lap pool.
A dining porch off the kitchen connects the main house to the guest cottage and courtyard. With a fireplace for chilly evenings and a ceiling fan to move humid air on hot days, the covered screened porch fits the bill for casual gatherings year-round.
This home in Culver City, California had no need for the too-small garage, so the driveway is used as a terrace. Large planters filled with billowy acacia and grevillea block out the street and define the space.
This brick-paved courtyard is inspired by Charleston-style homes. Because an urban setting like this tends to "hem in" private yards, it's important that outdoor spaces are as private and individualized as possible. Ornamental planting beds and large potted plant arrangements soften this hardscaped area while lending it some needed color.
A mismatched table and chairs suit this outdoor dining space’s worn yet elegant style, and no coastal porch would be complete without a woven hammock.
A big blue umbrella plays off the showstopping hydrangeas in this garden-turned-entertaining spot. A simple white picnic table and bench set is the perfect place for a backyard get-together and doesn’t take attention away from the real attraction -- the flowers.
This simple outdoor dining area gets a punch of personality with an evergreen, moss centerpiece made from floral moss and a votive tray of succulents.
Anyone can pick up a little charcoal grill and call it a party. However, this open-air kitchen goes way beyond the grill to include a wine bar, two grills, a pizza oven, and tons of workspace
Create the ultimate outdoor living area with a canopied daybed. It not only breaks up the traditional seating arrangement but also is perfect for naps.
Terry LeBlanc designed her Victoria, British Columbia, garden especially for wildlife. “I love all the birds flittering around,” she says. “They’re especially active in the morning.” That’s also when sunlight filters through a canopy of ancient oaks onto a satellite patio. A table for two sits atop slate pavers interplanted with grass, while clematis sprawls over the adjacent shed. The space is especially peaceful at daybreak, when the air is filled with birdsong.
This roofless, 10-foot-square room uses translucent mosquito netting for walls. Bamboo poles slip into sleeves centered in four large flowerpots -- one at each corner -- and tie to horizontal rods supporting the netting. You can build it in a weekend.
Four things made this rooftop getaway come together quickly and easily: large containers, 60-pound bags of potting mix, the availability of water--piping and an outdoor spigot were installed--and an enthusiastic owner. He makes daily rounds, watering and snipping off faded blooms and damaged foliage.
Casual entertaining can extend outdoors, where plenty of seating, a gas grill, and a rolling vista await guests. The decking material is made from recycled plastic grocery bags, reclaimed pallet wrap, and waste wood; it won't split, splinter, warp, or rot.
Fabrics on this loggia add zesty color.
On this blue flagstone terrace, a wrought iron table and chairs make the perfect setting for watching sunsets.
Yellow cloth draping over the table adds light and contrast between two dark wicker chairs.
Enjoy Southern-style candlelit dinners amid gently swaying trees and a serene lake. Large candelabras dress up the casual wooden deck furniture, and a park bench increases seating at the table.
Builder Trey Laird designed the oak pergola to mimic the post-and-beam detailing of the home's exterior architecture. "We already had the covered loggia, so instead of doing a surrey roof, I wanted to do something very different," he says. Designer Joe Minton chose an organic, modern design reminiscent of pruned shrubs for the table and chairs inside.
A bar-height table is a great place to gather around for drinks or dinner. Statement-making lanterns add an old-world feel to the brand new space.
Simple, modern furniture in bright colors makes a small corner of a patio an intimate site for dinner or just a great spot to relax. An area rug makes the space feel like a whole new room.
This spacious patio is a great spot for intimate suppers with its ceiling of wisteria and lattice walls. The table was custom built with a copper top and a base of twin stone pillars.
A long pergola shields the outdoor living and dining area from the sun's glare and serves as a framework for sparkling lights at night. The outdoor living space fits comfortably between the house at one end and the outdoor fireplace at the other.
You don't have to face the ocean to create a coastal vibe. This backyard in Los Osos, California, is proof: Even though the deck doesn't share the bay and dune views that the front of the house has, the firepit in the corner, reminiscent of beach campfires, echoes the seaside boardwalk ambience, as does the billowy landscaping that evokes grass-covered sand dunes. Built-in seating, a dining area, and a firepit make the deck perfect for outdoor entertaining.
Resources: Equinox teak-and-stainless-steel table and chairs by Barlow Tyrie from Fortini Home Garden Design (www.fortinihome.com or 805/542-0500). Fire feature designed by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture (www.jgsdesigns.com or 805/528-2118) and installed by Aaron Burch of Burch Concrete Solutions (www.burchconcretesolutions.com or 805/748-4289).
Balmy summer evenings invite dining outdoors. Whether you opt for a small family gathering or supper for a crowd, a casual garden setting calls for relaxed seating. This Walnut Creek, California yard boasts a 12- by 20-foot brick-edged flagstone patio -- large enough to comfortably seat 12 or more.
Garden design: Matthew and Joan Lane, Proscape Landscaping, Walnut Creek, CA (925/934-1146)
Gathering friends in your garden for a casual midday meal is the ultimate pleasure on a lazy summer day -- especially in the cooling shade of an arbor. At the Apple Farm (707/895-2461), a working farm, inn, and cooking school in Philo, California, owners Sally and Don Schmitt and Karen and Tim Bates have been hosting garden-fresh meals beneath a living arbor of 12 mulberry trees for more than a decade. There, around a concrete table with a tree-stump base, friends and guests get together to dine and chat.
A dining table hosts candlelit dinners serviced by a nearby outdoor kitchen.
Teak chairs and a low ottoman, each cushioned in oyster-colored canvas, furnish the shady loggia of this Alabama house.
Let your outdoor cook space be an extension of your indoor kitchen. This outdoor kitchen features a full complement of all-weather stainless steel appliances set in a stucco-and-tile island.
On this deck, weather-resistant striped cushions, durable outdoor furniture, and a shaded table create a spot for relaxing and alfresco dining.
This open-plan, four-bedroom house in Palo Alto, California, was built in 1954 by influential developer Joseph Eichler. The kid friendly patio is used for entertaining and meals.
A bedroom just off the kitchen was converted into a dining room where colorful abstract painting are displayed.
Resources: Vintage Russell Woodard Sculptura patio chairs painted by homeowners. Sina dining chairs ($1,216-$1,778) and Athos Extensible dining table (from $3,600) from Limn (www.limn.com or 415/543-5466).
Sunrise is a promising time of day in the garden. Birds are singing, plants are speckled with dew, the air is fresh and fragrant. There’s no better place to enjoy it all than on a breakfast patio, such as Nancy Knupfer's intimate pocket garden in her Los Angeles backyard. “It’s the first space the sun hits in the morning, so I love to have breakfast out here,” she says. A colorful tile table and two chairs are nearly surrounded by ferns and other plants in a palette of greens and white. Nearby, a burbling fountain adds to the feeling of serenity. “I like sitting here and watching the sun come up,” Knupfer says.
These shutters were painted with the future in mind. When the sun fades them, the color will be perfect.
This outdoor seating area provides a place to enjoy the Caribbean breezes and have an outdoor lunch.
A teak table fills the dining porch with casual style. A teak serving cart with an Italian tile surface and trays makes entertaining easy.
The red metal Fermob table and red cushions are the stars in this Los Angeles backyard, with espresso brown stainless steel benches, striped cushions, and wrought-iron side chairs to set them off. Cannas shoot orange blooms that resemble candle flames above brownish foliage. The simple ‘floor’ is decomposed granite.
A simple table and chairs are all that are needed to turn a backyard into an outdoor room.
Any lawn can become an outdoor dining area with a large table and plenty of chairs. By moving indoor furnishings outdoors for an afternoon, this backyard becomes a perfect brunch spot.
Just off the living and dining area, the veranda gives extra space for entertaining. It's outfitted with 1950's iron furniture salvaged from a nearby hotel's storage room.
This outdoor dining area with bold striped patterns is perfect for entertaining guests. Elemental iron chairs pair with a textured oak table and a Moroccan-inspired pendant lamp.
This Carmel, California cottage’s wraparound porch showcases stunning views of both mountains and shores and features a trellis and easy access to the kitchen through French doors, perfect for al fresco meals.
A simple teak dining table and chairs makes this North Carolina deck the perfect place for a sunset meal. Like a cap’s visor, the flipped-up roof edge provides extra shade and pushes the rain’s drop line away from the house.
This custom metal-and-stone table is geometric chic. The cube-like base feels more modern than a typical pedestal.
Go for an exotic, Eastern teahouse look with this California-made Douglas fir sanctuary.
A brown-trimmed table and red metal Fermob chairs help set the entire garden’s color theme (unifying the overall look). Tall shrubs screen the mini patio from passersby, making it ideal for morning coffee.
A colorful Mexican tile mosaic brings color to this covered terrace. Beehive shaped lanterns add a Euro-chic touch, and the weather-resistant patio furniture allows for year-round alfresco dining.
In a coastal environment, outdoor spaces are just as important as interiors. The designer turned a closet on the upstairs porch into a full-service bar and equipped the space with a casual dining set. Screens keep bugs out in summer but fully retract into the ceiling on mild days.
One porch has a fireplace and serving counter.
Simple patio furniture makes dining alfresco easy. With nearby access to the grill in this small space, entertaining guests (and cooking for them) is simple and efficient.
Bright color, soft textures, and low-maintenance AstroTurf create the perfect backyard in this Laguna Beach home.
This Lake Martin, Alabama backyard features a hidden grotto and a wooden picnic table nestled in the space, perfect for outdoor entertaining.
The lawn in front of this Berkeley, California home was replaced with pavers of square-cut Connecticut bluestone. Landscape architect Stefan Thuilot added an overhead trellis to enclose the space, benches for extra seating, a water feature to mask traffic noise, and vertical plants such as New Zealand flax (in the pot) and horsetail (along the wall).
Design: Huettl-Thuilot Associates, Berkeley (www.huettl-thuilot.com or 510/848-3200).
The owners of this Pacific Palisades, California, property wanted areas for dining, entertaining, and play in a long, narrow backyard overgrown with Ficus nitida trees. The designer's solution was to prune back the ficus hedge to open up the yard to light and create a series of sunny living spaces.
Vibrant greens and orange touches mixed with natural wood offer a perfect mod dining area for this California home. Drought-resistant plants, such as flax and succulents, add greenery without guzzling water.
Colorful Lanterns make any outdoor area look fun, fresh, and put-together. With a simple round, white table and serving pieces in complementary colors, this little area feels like a room all its own.
Designer Jennifer Barguiarena used sheet metal and an old door to create the look of a beautifully aged zinc bar. The canopy is made from a painter's drop cloth, which makes a strong, durable tent fabric. "Resist over decorating. Be spare with permanent accessories. Better to bring your indoor things outside to suit the occasion. It gives you more flexibility, and you'll save money," says Jennifer.
The living room of this Covington, Louisiana home opens onto this casual back porch -- perfect for an outdoor meal or entertaining.