It’s a universal pleasure to enjoy a meal outdoors. Since the time people actually lived indoors, they have enjoyed taking their meals outside. A picnic is perhaps the easiest way to enjoy lunch on a beautiful summer day. And it’s simple-as simple as a sandwich and an apple while you’re sitting under a tree.
But sitting on the ground limits our dining experience. It doesn’t usually work for our elderly relatives, it doesn’t offer a stable surface to rest our drinks, and let’s not forget the insects… So, outdoor dining furniture has made its way into our lives.
The earliest outdoor dining furniture that I remember my family owning was a picnic table that was a do-it-yourself weekend project my dad took on with the help of a handy next-door neighbor. Our summers revolved around that table. Dad grilled steaks and steamed clams on the little hibachi that had a permanent place on the end of the table. It held pool towels and ice cream dishes, inner tubes and Dixie Cups. It was the one piece of outdoor dining furniture in our yard, and we made good use of it.
Family vacations usually involved visiting upstate lakes and resort towns. We’d walk down the busy main street in the evening, and we’d see families eating pizza on patios outfitted with outdoor dining furniture, or teenagers hanging with their friends, eating cones on benches outside the ice cream parlor. We invariably ate our meals at the lakeside cabin, and I envied the rest of them.
My college days arrived, and I liked heading downtown to the trendy block a short distance from the state capital. Elegant cafes lined the street, outfitted with outdoor dining furniture, usually wrought iron tables and heavy metal chairs. One of the oldest pubs in town even followed the trend, and set up some plastic tables covered with disposable tablecloths. It wasn’t cutting edge outdoor dining furniture, but it did the job. A trend was picking up steam.
Eventually I ended up owning a home of my own, and it came with a big patio, pool, and screen house. I couldn’t leave the space empty, so I went out shopping. I got measurements of my patio and selected a hexagon-shaped picnic table, a more elaborate version of the one my dad and our neighbor built decades before.
If I were to outfit another patio, I would have plenty of options. If I had a tight budget, the local discount department stores and home improvement stores set out their outdoor dining furniture in the spring. Aluminum tables and chairs are rust-resistant and lightweight, they’re easy to leave outside for the entire season and easy to move inside for the winter.
Elegant options abound. Wooden outdoor dining furniture-not my father’s picnic table–comes in teak, cedar, cypress, and redwood. You can find them with contemporary Scandinavian lines and in rustic Southwest-inspired styles. If you like traditional look of lattice, you can find wrought iron tables in compact café styles and in rectangles large enough to fit the extended family. If the classic look of wicker appeals to you, you can find wicker outdoor dining furniture in synthetic weaves and aluminum frames, and usually a glass top to provide a stable surface for glassware. Synthetic wicker holds up well to rain and sun, and will give you many seasons of use.
When it’s time to move the meals outdoors, check out the websites and catalogs for outdoor dining furniture. You’ll have nearly as many choices as you do for inside furniture. Enjoy the breezes and sunshine!