Al Fresco - In the open air. Origin - Mid 18th century: Italian, literally 'in the fresh (air)'.
With the good weather upon us and the spring blossom fading to make room for vibrant summer hues, the home design focus may start to switch from sofa patterns and cosy throws to outdoor furniture and picnic blankets.
Here we cover al fresco dining décor ideas for every outdoor space. Whether you’re working with extensive grounds or a contemporary city balcony, there is no excuse not to take it outside this spring/summer. There are many DIY ideas you can turn your hands to ahead of a garden party and a few great products you will be eager to order.
Just because your garden space might not be the largest doesn’t mean you can’t make a really interesting al fresco dining space. In fact, sometimes the smaller spaces offer the opportunity for the most creativity, where space saving options and clever DIY tricks come into play. Outdoor wall lighting can work fantastically on the side of your house to illuminate the garden whilst taking up little space, while clever seating tricks can ensure your guests are comfortable without encroaching on the dining area.
Deck chairs are a great option for small garden areas. Their vintage seaside appeal means that they look fantastic in almost every setting and are right on trend for this summer. They also fold away to turn your garden from social hub to show garden in the blink of an eye.
These Homemade deck chairs by DIY blogger and project builder Ana White are fantastic and not nearly as difficult to make as they look professional. So long as you’re a bit handy with some simple carpentry tools and have the time, you can make chairs that really match your setting.
Or, if it all goes wrong, the Scandinavian deck chairs from Hen and Hammock are a great alternative. Their simple yet classic design ensure that they will make the perfect fit for any garden and their compact folding style means that they take up hardly any room.
Sometimes having a big space can prove a challenge in that you have so much room to work with and trying to bring the various design elements together to make a harmonious setting isn’t always as simple as it may first appear.
One of the perks of a big garden is that you can have a large dining area for entertaining. The outdoor table is among the best parts of al fresco dining and is something that, just like your dining room, you can alter to suit the occasion. Design blogger Amber Burrahm regularly posts fantastic al fresco dining ideas on her Snippets of Design blog, as illustrated in the cover image of this post. Her Brunch is in the Air article depicts the true art of table-scapes and shows how just a few different napkin designs can really transform an outdoor table. She has unlimited inspiration on her Decorating Al Fresco board on her incredibly active Pinterest account. Just try not to get so distracted that you spend more time browsing through her ideas than enjoying the sunshine!
Another great element you can incorporate in a big garden space is a fire bowl. While the summer may bring with it a warmer climate, the nights can be brisk. Instead of turning indoors, turn to lighting your own personal fire bowl. Outdoor living specialist Hen and Hammock offer a range of sizes to suit every space so that you never have to turn in early again, and you can even use it as a barbeque.
If decking is more your outdoor style, then there are plenty of al fresco dining ideas that suit this type of space too. Seating may seem like the first obvious hurdle, but with the geometric shape that decking normally creates this actually offers a great opportunity for sofa-style seating.
The Platform Outdoor Sectional project by Ana White is contemporary and simple whilst making for a great seating option that is effortlessly social. This project can be built for a fraction of the cost of regular outdoor furniture, whilst being both comfortable and stylish. Again, her project plan is thorough and simple, so just make sure to draft in some extra helping hands and you’ll be on your way.
While decking may not be enough room for a gazebo, parasols still make for a wonderful outdoor shading option. The Indonesian Parasol from Hen and Hammock offers a beautiful way of offering a bit of shade without taking up too much room. Made in Bali, their authentic design can set off the space and inspire additional accessories such as garden lanterns and vintage garden signage to make a real theme.
A balcony definitely doesn’t offer much space to play with, but whatever the size it can still be made your own with a few touches. The Hanging chair from Hammock Heaven offers hammock-style furniture whilst taking up half the space. You can hang it from the door frame or similar and it folds away into a portable bag for when you’re done basking in your suntrap. Made in Columbia from 100 percent recycled cotton they are eco-friendly and beautiful.
A conservatory offers the chance to create a space that blends the outdoors with the indoors and there are countless options for al fresco decoration here. Lighting is key and introducing ambient kitchen pendant lights above the table will set off the space perfectly.
For the rest of the room, or for when you want to do a bit of stargazing, the rechargeable bottlelight from SUCK UK turns any empty bottle into a glowing light. Shaped like a cork that sits in the top of an empty wine bottle or similar, you can dot them around the conservatory to offer light without detracting from the view and still get that outdoors feeling.
Image Credits: Snippets of Design, Ana White, Hen and Hammock, Hammock Heaven, SUCK UK