21 Idea-filled Outdoor Dining Rooms

Set the scene for great outdoor parties or just dinner for two.

Tuscan dining: The courtyardTuscan dining: The courtyard
Tuscan dining: The courtyard

Designer Paul Hendershot calls his Ojai, Calif. garden "a Mediterranean courtyard without walls."
The centerpiece is a concrete-topped table (more on that next photo).
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.

Tuscan dining: The tableTuscan dining: The table
Tuscan dining: The table
A cast-concrete table is the focal point of the outdoor dining area. "It used to belong to a friend, and I lusted after it for years before I bought it from her," designer Hendershot says.
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.
>More: See the "Tuscan dining" plan

Dinner on the deckDinner on the deck
Dinner on the deck
Bob and Cary Woll's seaside-inspired backyard in Los Osos, California, is as inviting for two as it is for a crowd; the Wolls have entertained as many as two dozen guests, comfortably, on the deck.
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.

Create an outdoor barCreate an outdoor bar
Create an outdoor bar
Outdoor chefs need a place to put their tools, and bartenders must have a bar. The concrete side table beneath the pergola provides room for both while also functioning as a serving counter or buffet table.
Two square cabinets on casters, tucked underneath provide storage. They can also be rolled into action as serving tables or additional seating.

Warming firepitWarming firepit
Warming firepit
A raised concrete trough filled with recycled glass keeps the dining deck warm on cool nights.
When not in use, the gas firepit can be covered with a slab of ipe wood, which converts it into a coffee table.
>More: See the "Dinner on the deck" plan

Dramatic desert diningDramatic desert dining
Dramatic desert dining
For this project, landscape architect Steve Martino tried something new ― aluminum flashing.
He wove it through rebar uprights like a ribbon, creating a glamorous shimmering privacy wall near the outdoor dining area.
>More: See the rest of this dramatic desert garden

Hillside dining hideawayHillside dining hideaway
Hillside dining hideaway
Problem: How do you create an outdoor dining area in a tight backyard against a steep uphill slope?
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

Eco outdoor diningEco outdoor dining
Eco outdoor dining
A wall of blue tile from Heath Ceramics sets the mood for this San Francisco garden dining area, making the backyard feel more like a room.
>More: Eco design goes glam in San Francisco

Patio kitchenPatio kitchen
Patio kitchen
Architect Colin Sarjeant opened up this house and connected it to a new outdoor dining space carved out of the front yard. It's where everyone wants to go.
>More: See the kitchen before and after

Dream backyardDream backyard
Dream backyard
First-time homeowners Jordan and Leanne Rubin ― having only the scantiest experience in construction, design, and gardening ― decided to convert part of a parking pad into a courtyard for summer dining and entertaining.
>More: Build your dream backyard


Related: How to set a romantic table outside