Outdoor Dining

If I see another French-inspired outdoor table setting I may scream.  Unless of course I am actually in Provence.  Here’s the thing, I love France, truly, but trying to recreate it in a suburban American yard is not really a good thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love outdoor dining when conditions are just right.  A clear sky, slight breeze and no bugs are a really good start.  The reality is that those conditions rarely converge, so unless I am invited out, I tend to maybe have one al fresco evening per summer.  I’m not a total curmudgeon, however I also believe outdoor dining is a tad romanticized.  People spend a fortune on plastic bits and bobs that are maybe used a few times a year.  I think you should own pieces that you can use all year, indoor and out.  Let your guests feel like you have not skimped on entertaining them even though you may be eating hot dogs and chips.  Here are some must-have elements for the elegant outdoors:

Ikat Design Fabric

Ikat napkins are hot.  While they are trendy, they are still a classic design.  Make sure to buy cotton napkins, not paper.  The colorful patterns are quite forgiving with stains, are cheerful in summer and spring.  If you get a richer toned napkin they can be used all year.

Rattan Charger

I love a rattan charger.  They are casual enough for an outdoor dining table, but are totally amazing indoors in the fall.  Because they are neutral they can work with cream and white dishes and compliment browns and orange in the fall.  Plus, you can’t beat the texture.

Outdoor Picnic

Same goes for ceramic bamboo dishes.  From serving nuts and dip to chips and olives at the bar, make them a part of your everyday entertaining.

Bamboo Flatware

Do I need to sing the praises of bamboo flatware?  Probably not, but they look great outdoors and in moderation in the house during the year.

Cobalt Blue Glasses

Finally, don’t even think about a red, plastic cup to serve your chilled rose.  I love cobalt glasses.  Not only to they pick up on the summery sun and sky, but they are perfect for Christmas.  Yes, you heard me, Christmas. Pair them with plaids or paisley in the winter and crack open the egg nog.

Photos courtesy of Santabarbarachic.com, Elegance2003.com, Celebrityweddings.us, Poshtots.com, Etsy.com, Veranda.com.