21 ideas for outdoor dining rooms
Set the scene for great outdoor parties or just dinner for two
The centerpiece is a concrete-topped table (more on that next slide).
Inspired by the casual elegance of Mediterranean-style gardens, Hendershot carpeted his patio with pea gravel. "It feels good to walk on when barefoot," he says.
A pepper tree provides light shade on hot days. To complement the tree ― and the garden's overall look ― Hendershot also planted boxwood, 'Provence' lavender, Myrtus communis 'Compacta' (which he likes for its scent), and upright rosemary.
The table has been such a hit with friends that he now takes orders to build similar models on-site in his area (they're too heavy to ship). The benches are weathered pine.
Candles and glasses in mixed styles and shades of green and amber look right at home in the casual garden. Miniature bottles of olive oil at each place setting double as placecard holders and gifts for guests.
There's also an outdoor bed, where Hendershot sleeps on balmy summer nights. A rock wall separates the living areas from a lower patio.
To give the garden understated elegance at night, Hendershot installed only a couple of landscape lights ― one at the base of the pepper tree, the other at the base of an oak.
They're directed up into the tree canopies, bathing the shapely branches in soft light. Candles and Moroccan lanterns provide the rest of the night lighting.
Benches of ipe wood wrap around most of the deck (also made of ipe), providing generous seating.
Garden plants ― Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen', and Acacia cognata ― require little in the way of watering and upkeep. A tiny succulent in a square pot serves as a simple table centerpiece.
Two square cabinets on casters, tucked underneath provide storage. They can also be rolled into action as serving tables or additional seating.
When not in use, the gas firepit can be covered with a slab of ipe wood, which converts it into a coffee table.
Tips from these outdoor dining rooms:
Built-in countertops in or near the dining area are handy, but if you don't have them, portable carts or side tables will do the job well.
Situate your dinner table under a large tree, patio overhang, vine-covered arbor, pergola, or colorful market umbrella.
Use your garden to inspire tableware and decorating choices.
Ahead: More great ideas for dining outside
He wove it through rebar uprights like a ribbon, creating a glamorous shimmering privacy wall near the outdoor dining area.
Solution: You dig it out. Armed with pick and shovel, interior designer Linda Applewhite and her husband, Marshall Miller, excavated a 15- by 20-foot semicircular area out of the hillside.
More: How they did it
Saris form the walls; canvas panels cover the top. The light feature is of steel tubing with fiberglass cones over 20-watt bulbs.
This alfresco dining area is just outside the kitchen; lit by the sun and cooled by the breeze, it consumes zero energy.
Herbs and vegetables mix with ornamental plants in the front yard.
The two-story veranda off the master suite was inspired by a similar feature at playwright Eugene O'Neill's Tao House in nearby Danville, Calif.
More: One smart house
The decorations aren't permanent, so you can change the colors anytime you wish.
"Cooking and dining out here are pure pleasures," she says. "I feel like I’m in an elegant campground."
More: Cool Cabana Style
The table is made from the same flagstone as the slender serving counter tucked against the wall.
The lushly planted deck often serves as settings for outdoor feasts replete with pitchers of Tahitian rum cocktails and platters of prawns. It all has the feel of a permanent vacation.
More: See this artful house