With summer right around the corner, many Aussie homeowners are likely thinking about how they can revitalise their garden space following months of winter chills.
Naturally, with the weather growing warmer again and the sun emerging from behind the clouds, the idea of outdoor entertaining is guaranteed to have flitted through your mind. But how do you transform your backyard into the ultimate outdoor dining or alfresco entertainment space?
Thankfully, we’re more than just a gardening blog here at Aussie Green Thumb. We also provide plenty of nifty guides for modern outdoor living, helping all Aussie green thumbs to get the absolute most out of their unique garden space.
Read on to unearth our best outdoor dining area ideas and designs – all perfect for sharing your lovingly curated garden space with your friends and loved ones.
Outdoor Dining Area Ideas for 2024
First, let’s start with our top outdoor dining ideas. All of the below tips will help you set up a thoughtfully designed outdoor dining space that’ll be sure to keep you comfy all summer long.
Invest in a Variety of Comfortable Seating
Some people love enjoying an alfresco meal on outdoor benches or picnic tables. For others, however, they prefer to have a touch of classical flair, opting instead for restaurant-style seating by candlelight.
And then there are those who prefer enjoying tapas at bar stools when they dine alfresco style. As a host, it’s important to keep in mind that your guests likely have their own preferences when it comes to sitting comfortably in an alfresco dining area.
So why not provide them with a diverse range of seating options that allows them to take their pick? This can include wooden trestle tables for family-style feeds, cosy hammocks to hang out on while eating finger foods, or comfy outdoor couches where they can enjoy a beer, a burger, and a good footy match on an outdoor screen (but more on this later!).
Having these distinct seating options and zones can also help you host a variety of different outdoor events, ranging from streaming a footy or cricket match, throwing a family birthday party, or even hosting a family brunch or informal high tea.
Incorporate Technology for Outdoor Entertainment
As we briefly mentioned, some of the best outdoor dining areas are set up as complementary to a larger outdoor entertainment space. And the best outdoor entertainment spaces are those that have audiovisual equipment.
This allows you to have friends and family over to watch a sporting event, to play video games, to have a movie marathon, or simply to enjoy good music along with their hearty feed. So why not add a wall-mounted TV and perhaps even some speakers to your outdoor entertainment area?
But don’t be mistaken – just because your outdoor living space has been fitted with technology, it doesn’t mean you can’t inject a little lush greenery into the area!
There are many ways that you can incorporate natural elements into your outdoor entertaining area, including by incorporating patio furniture made with natural materials (i.e. timber, wicker), adding a few pot plants here and there, and perhaps even installing a little water feature for some ambient background noise and visual stimuli.
Install Soft, Ambient Lighting for Picture-Perfect Photos
Atmosphere can make or break any entertaining space, be it indoors or outdoors. And when it comes to alfresco dining and entertaining, the single best method for enhancing your atmosphere is by adding soft, ambient lighting. This can be anything from natural candlelight to strings of fairy lights, or even sunset spotlight lamps for an extra warm touch.
Warm, ambient lighting will perfectly complement any alfresco dining experience, setting the tone for an evening of intimate conversations, hearty laughter, and the clinking of wine glasses.
And as an added bonus, warm lighting is guaranteed to provide the perfect, flattering glow in all the photographs snapped during your outdoor event. With some thoughtfully installed solar lights, fairy lights, lanterns, and candles in your space, you can document your festive gatherings in all their merriment, and your guests in all their joy.
Set Up a Practical Outdoor Kitchen
What’s better than outdoor dining? How about outdoor cooking and barbecuing? As BBQs are a beloved pastime here in Australia, setting up practical outdoor kitchen and BBQ amenities is guaranteed to be on the to-do list for most Aussie homeowners.
And whilst it may seem daunting to think about how best to set up this kitchen space and keep it clean, tidy, and food-safe, establishing your own outdoor kitchen is actually easier than you may think.
All you really need is to find the right components and furnishings for your outdoor kitchen space. This includes a grill or BBQ as well as an outdoor benchtop with a faucet. This benchtop is best made with durable, weather-resistant materials like marble or even treated timber.
It’s also ideal to have non-slip flooring, just to ensure that your outdoor kitchen space is perfectly safe to use in all weather conditions.
You’ll also need to consider shelter for your outdoor kitchen space, just as you would for any tech-fueled outdoor entertaining set-up. Here, you can select from outdoor shade sails or corrugated iron shelters or Colorbond canopies.
Set Up Insect-Repelling Accessories
Pest control is naturally a paramount concern when it comes to outdoor dining. In fact, it’s the summer mozzies, flies, and other opportunistic creepy crawlies that often inhibit us from making the most of our summer nights.
Thankfully, we’re no strangers to the importance of mozzie control here in Australia. There are an abundance of superb mosquito control solutions out there that are also effective against other types of insects.
This includes natural solutions like citronella candles or incense, as well as bug zappers, which can even double up as another form of ambient lighting for your outdoor dining area. And you can easily install fly screens or other barriers as a last line of defence too.
Of course, it’s important to ensure that all the bug control solutions used for your outdoor dining area are natural or organic, just to reduce the risks of ingesting food and drink around harsh chemicals like pesticides or fly spray.
Use a Fire Pit as Focal Point of Your Outdoor Dining Area
If you’re feeling nostalgic about the ritual of sitting around the campfire, then why not recapture this elusive childhood memory by adding a fire pit to your outdoor dining area?
With a fire pit as the focal point or centrepiece of your outdoor dining area, you can literally establish a hearth that makes your outdoor space feel that much more cosy and inviting.
You can also provide comfy seating like stools or even cut logs so that guests can enjoy their meals by the warmth of your outdoor fireplace. Or better still, your firepit can be the space for enjoying dessert – of course, in the form of some toasted marshmallows eaten off metal skewers. That’ll be sure to take you back to your family camping days!
And if you’re concerned that the fire pit aesthetic may not meld with the current design scheme of your outdoor dining space, then have no fear. There are actually a wide range of different fire pit ideas out there, so you can feel free to develop a fire pit that perfectly complements your wider outdoor set-up.
Outdoor Dining Area Designs
Now that we’ve outlined our top outdoor dining area ideas, let’s have a look at some of the best outdoor dining area design schemes to help spark your own imagination.
Contemporary Modern Outdoor Dining Area
Most modern Aussie homes are being built in the contemporary modern style. This ultra-modern architectural style is characterised by its neutral colour palette, striking use of vertical and horizontal lines, and clean and understated facades.
If you’re looking to design an outdoor dining area to accompany your contemporary modern home, we recommend using modern outdoor kitchen furniture with stainless steel builds, as well as lighter or darker-toned timber and other build materials rather than natural-toned wood.
Monochromatic furnishings and tables or seating with geometric lines and patterns are also guaranteed to complement your contemporary modern design scheme.
Mid-Century Modern Outdoor Dining Set-Up
For those of us with post-war brick residences, chances are you’ll want to design an outdoor dining space that perfectly compliments the mid-century style of your wider property. Thankfully, there are plenty of design options available here too.
Mid-century design tends to possess striking furnishings and architectural elements, characterised by their melding of natural and inorganic shapes. Whilst the canopy of a shelter may be rounded, the pillars holding it up could be more angular.
Similarly, mid-century-inspired seating can range from hanging egg chairs for a ‘70s aesthetic, to elegant deck chairs, and even cosy bench-style couches arranged around a conversation pit!
Boho-Inspired Alfresco Dining Set-Up
If you’ve hung some fairy lights in your outdoor dining set-up and have kind of fallen in love with the whimsical aesthetic you’ve created, then why not take this whimsy one step further by transforming your outdoor space into a Bohemian haven?
Boho spaces are known for being just as eclectic as they are warm and inviting, typically providing plenty of colour, patterns, and cultural elements as accents and visual stimuli.
Hanging wall tapestries, macrame plant holders, and even palms and other tropical plants, are guaranteed to complement your boho-inspired alfresco dining set-up.
And just like any space that’s been inspired by the melding of many cultures, your outdoor kitchen better include a revolving spice rack that’ll help you pay homage to all the flavours of the world at your next outdoor dinner gathering.
Luxury Glamping Outdoor Dining Area
If the Bohemian style is perhaps a bit too loud for your tastes, then why not tone it back by going for a more luxury glamping feel rather than a bazaar-style set-up?
Creating a luxury glamping-inspired outdoor dining space is as easy as setting up a picnic table or outdoor bench under a canvas tarpaulin that’s been strung between some tall trees or fence posts. You can even set up a hammock or two under some strings of fairy lights to complement the draping and verticality of your glamping-inspired design elements.
A fire pit is also a great addition to any luxury glamping-inspired outdoor dining space. With all these design elements in place, your dinner guests can truly feel like they’ve gone away on a school camp for the evening.
Japanese Zen Garden-Inspired Alfresco Dining Area
If you have a minimalist-inspired home, then a Japanese zen garden-inspired outdoor dining area is guaranteed to delight. This clean and understated outdoor aesthetic can perfectly complement picnic-style seating arrangements – especially if you already have a rock garden or coastal plant display in your backyard.
Japanese zen gardens are characterised by their use of sand, stone, and geometric plants – particularly with red or green foliage. A Japanese maple is sure to make a great organic focal point for your Japanese zen garden-inspired outdoor dining space.
And for those who want to add extra dimension, why not install a water feature or garden sculpture amidst your sand and rock gardens? You can even mimic the look and feel of Japanese tatami with wicker furnishings, bamboo screens, and other natural design elements.
English Garden ‘High Tea’ Aesthetic
One of the most beloved outdoor design styles of all time, the English garden or ‘high tea’ aesthetic is characterised by its lush rose bushes, box shrubs, creeping ivy, and winding stone garden pathways.
When done correctly, the English garden aesthetic can feel incredibly transportive, almost like you’re Alice and you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. The melding of lush plant life and delicate design elements like whitewashed iron lawn furniture and matching lace doilies provides a touch of refinement to your garden space – like your high tea set-up is an oasis in a sea of greenery.
Garden sculptures will also feel right at home in your English garden set-up – especially those that are fairy tale-inspired and can add to the innate magic of this particular outdoor design scheme.
But who knows? You may find that even some naturalistic sculptures can take on a whole new magical presence when added to English garden spaces.
Start Designing Your Outdoor Dining Area
With all these ideas and design templates at your fingertips, designing the perfect outdoor dining area to accompany your wider home design and accommodate your guests should be a piece of cake from here onwards.
So start experimenting with different design concepts, colour schemes, and outdoor entertaining amenities. With a little trial and error, you should find yourself designing the outdoor dining area of your dreams that’ll be sure to make the perfect setting for years of summertime memories.