Relaxing on your patio is a treat, and the right patio furniture can help you set the mood for properly reveling in your down-time. Imagine sipping drinks at a bistro table or enjoying a family dinner outside at a eucalyptus table-and-chair set. This guide will help you imagine patio dining possibilities for your garden and aid you in picking what's right for you.
Patio dining sets: For convenience and coordinated style, you can't beat a set. Dining sets generally include a table and chairs; two or four chairs usually accompany the table, but large sets might have as many as eight chairs. Patio dining sets are available in a variety of styles and materials to match your outdoor decor. A versatile bistro set, with a wrought-iron patio table and chairs, creates the ambiance of an outdoor cafe on a small patio. A sleek aluminum set will modernize the setting. For a natural look, choose dining sets crafted of cedar, eucalyptus, teak, or another wood treated to withstand time in the elements.
Tables: You'll need some type of table if you plan on eating many meals outside. Outdoor tables for the garden and patio are available in a wide range of styles and sizes, so there's something for everyone, no matter how large or small a space you need to fill. A bistro table is usually small enough to fit nicely on a small patio or balcony and is designed to seat two. For dining in larger spaces, choose round or square (36-inch to 46-inch) patio dining tables to accommodate four to six people or a rectangular table to seat six or more. For a truly classic look with no fuss, choose an iconic picnic table. A backyard staple, picnic tables have the advantage of built-in seating and an easily recognizable appearance that puts people at ease.
Chairs: Outdoor dining chairs are a key component of any outdoor dining area. Choose chairs that match your dining table's materials, or get creative and mix materials. You'll see more traditional chairs in wicker and wood as well as modern chairs in metal and even polycarbonate. Often the chairs will include a cushion, and some feature such deep, plush cushions and beautiful craftsmanship that you'll be tempted to use them indoors.
Umbrellas: Umbrellas allow you to eat comfortably outside, no matter how hot it gets. A good patio umbrella will have a wood or metal frame and a durable fabric canopy. Wooden umbrellas add a tropical feel to a backyard, but often don't offer features common on metal frames, like tilt and rotation. Ambitious outdoor diners will appreciate the extra features that are now available; lighted ribs, built-in thermometers, and umbrellas with collapsible poles for easier storage are some options. A basic rule of thumb when choosing an umbrella is that the canopy should be 5 feet wider across than the area that needs to be shaded. For example, a 42-inch table needs an 8.5-foot umbrella. Also keep in mind that many umbrellas designed to fit into a table may not come with a stand, while an umbrella designed to sit to the side of the table and provide shade will often have its own method of support. Check your table and umbrella and make sure to order all the parts necessary to put your umbrella to use when it arrives.