13 Dreamy Outdoor Spaces That Make the Case for Dining Al Fresco

Updated 08/07/19
Stephen Busken ; DESIGN: Studio Life.Style ; ARCHITECT: Anthony Eckelberry ; STYLING: Brady Tolbert

There's something undeniably dreamy about outdoor dining. The words themselves conjure up images of European sidewalk cafés, rooftop bars in major cities, and boardwalk restaurants overlooking the ocean. But if you're lucky enough to have outdoor space of your own, you don't have to head out on vacation to enjoy a delicious meal al fresco. All you need is a table, chairs, and the company of your friends and family.

If you want to take things up a notch, though, there are plenty of design choices that can turn a simple outdoor dining area into a truly dreamy space. One that—dare we say it?—can rival even the most beautiful garden restaurants in the world.

Ready to transform your outdoor space into a reservation-worthy dining area? These 13 stylish al fresco set-ups are sure to inspire.

Built-In Bench Seating

outdoor dining ideas
Tim Melideo ; DESIGN: My Studio ID

The owners of this home in the California desert took advantage of the built-in bench and used it as the basis for their outdoor dining area. A rustic wooden table, set of vintage-looking chairs, and plenty of black-and-white pillows complete the space.

Moody Matte Black

Pasadena Home Tour—Outside
Amy Bartlam ; DESIGN: D.L. Rhein

The matte black siding on this Pasadena home is stunning on its own, but carrying the look throughout the entire space makes the impact so much stronger. Not only are the French doors painted black, the simple matte black chairs echo the look as well.

Green Oasis

Patio design
 Amy Bartlam; DESIGN: Denham Interior Design

This table for four is tucked away in the backyard of this Spanish-style home in Los Angeles. Surrounded by potted greenery, the dining area has an almost dreamlike quality.

Hanging Lanterns

patio decor ideas
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Blackband Design

While this sleek, sturdy table might look too stark on its own, the addition of slipcovered chairs make the area much more welcoming. And the lanterns hanging from the tree add a touch of whimsy to this back patio.

Lots of Layers

patio lighting ideas
Laure Joliet ; DESIGN: Consort Design

Layers upon layers of decorative accents—rugs, lanterns, cutting boards—make this dining space feel intentional and inviting. You might not be able to leave all of this décor outside overnight, but it's a great setup for a dinner party.

Take Cover

Outdoor Dining Area
Ryan Garvin; DESIGN: Erica Bryen

This open-air dining space may be covered, but it's still technically outside. The owners of this home took advantage of the ceiling by installing a gorgeous chandelier, but the two-tone chairs are eye-catching as well.

Party-Ready

Outdoor dinner party setup
EyeSwoon

A smattering of throw blankets and floor pillows turn this low-to-the-ground dining table into a welcoming scene for a party. The strands of hanging lights add to the dreamy ambience.

Small but Mighty

Southern Porches
Lowe’s Home Improvement for Gal Meets Glam

The circular table on this wraparound porch may be on the small side, but the owners still made space for four cushy rattan chairs. Simply move the potted plants to the floor and you'll have more than enough space for a meal.

A Mix of Styles

Outdoor dining area
AllModern

Shay Mitchell's outdoor dining space is a masterclass in mixing styles. She paired a rustic wood table with Acapulco dining chairs, glam succulent holders, and Boho-inspired cushions.

The More the Merrier

Fall Dinner Party
Stephen Busken

This backyard is packed to the brim with seating areas, but still feels totally cohesive. Behind the classic dining table table setup is a conversation pit with with matching sofas and a hanging chair.

Poolside Dining

modern outdoor design
Stephen Busken ; DESIGN: Studio Life.Style ; ARCHITECT: Anthony Eckelberry ; STYLING: Brady Tolbert

There's so much to love about this outdoor space in West Hollywood: the pool, the arches, the greenery, I could go on and on. But the dining area is nothing to scoff at. The table itself may be simple, but the stylish chairs and tabletop décor add plenty of aesthetic appeal.

Bright and Modern

Venice home tour
Monica Wang

The sun-drenched dining table at this Venice home would be an ideal spot for a Sunday brunch with friends (just don't forget the SPF). The white chairs contrast wonderfully with the dark table and walls, while the palm trees peeking out add life to the space.

Cohesive Colors

Outdoor patio
Donna Dotan ; ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN: Workshop APD

Although there are several distinct areas in this New York yard, the gray, white, and navy color palette keeps everything connected and cohesive. The outdoor pouf could also be pulled up to the dining table to add extra seating.

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