Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dining - Inside Out

Update July 20th:  I was sourcing some dining chairs for a client today and came across a couple of stunning chairs that are perfect for indoor and outdoor use and they're pretty reasonably priced, so I just had to include them with the post below ! (Room above: Hand Interior Design).

Web Chair $120

Stilt Chair $175

This will be my last post on outdoor furniture for the season, considering the weather’s been so lousy this summer we have yet to dine outdoors even once this summer.  But if we get lucky enough to enjoy a warm summer evening dining al fresco, then this is how I would make it more magical...

TAKE COVER.  For outdoor dining, I prefer a covered porch or awning rather than an umbrella, the post in the middle drives me crazy.  But i think my favorite summer product this season is Ikea’s Dyning Gazebo canopy, offerred in either a rectangular or trianglur shape.  You can string up one or two or three of these between trees or posts to create a dreamy canopy effect that looks like boat sails......  Great for irregular shaped spaces, and situations where awnings and permanent roof structures are not an option.  This is ingenious and a steal at $29.  

AVOID MATCHING suites of furniture.  Most people seem to have grasped the concept of not buying suites of dining room and bedroom furniture like our parents did, but somehow this concept hasn’t translated to our outdoor rooms yet.  Even though there is more of a selection than ever before, when it comes to outdoor furniture (most of it more expensive than our indoor pieces),,,,,I always seem to see entire backyards or decks furnished with matching sofas, coffee tables, dining tables, chairs, bar carts and side tables all from the same collection.  I know its usually less expensive to buy the entire set, but they will sell these pieces individually too so perhaps its a case of people rushing to furnish their outdoor spaces so they can just get busy enjoying them?

BRING THE INDOORS OUT. Whether its indoor dining or outdoor dining, chairs are always a big investment, because you need multiples.  Four, six or eight.  So why buy chairs that are only suitable for outdoors?  Stretch your patio budget by only buying 2 or 4 outdoor chairs, or one long bench, or,,,,,if you’re really tight on space and dollars, skip the outdoor chairs altogether and think multipurpose.   If you purchase chairs for your deck or balcony and they look like patio furniture then you minimize the amount of use they’ll get (I don’t think it ever looks appropriate to use them indoors, even in a pinch) and you’ll have to find dedicated storage space for them in the off season.   But taking your indoor chairs outside,,,somehow always looks decadent.

Today there are a variety great looking chairs that are suitable for both indoors and out (see photo collage at bottom of post) but you won't find these in outdoor section.   Initially you might have only ever considered these for indoor use, but surprisingly not only will all of these chairs look stunning in your kitchen, home office or dining room, they’re all suitable for outdoor use too!  And as a bonus, they all stack for easier storage if needed.   These are modern, clean lined and would mix well when paired up with chairs of any other style making them super practical. So if you buy a few extras, you’ll be prepared for extra dinner guests at anytime of the year and your mix of chairs will look stylish and chic as opposed to mismatched and makeshift.

EASY TO FIND.  These chairs are available in shops 12 months of the year which means you’ll never have to scour the city mid-way thru summer looking for some stylish outdoor seating.  If you’ve ever shopped for outdoor furniture after the May long weekend, you know how frustrating it can be to find anything.  But what do you do if its your first place, or your first backyard, its mid-way thru June and you’ve got guests coming for a bbq!?  You may not even have dining room furniture yet let alone patio furniture.  Investing in 2 or 4 of these chairs will give you the flexibility to use them inside or out.

I'm partial to these chairs paired with old rustic wood tables, especially trestle style, or chunky teak tables.  If you're outdoor dining space is well protected and you have a place to store a table in the off season, you can get away with almost any inexpensive table or create one using workhorses and plywood or an old slab door, then layer it with table cloths.    

Photos:  Living Etc., ebay, DWR, Living Etc. (3), Apartment Therapy, Chairs clockwise left to right, top; Alonzo Chair DWR $44 (sale),  Air Chair DWR $98 (sale), White Bertoia Side Chair DWR $450, Ikea Urban Chair $50, Navy Chair DWR $415, Ghost Chair DWR $400, Marais Arm Chair DWR $135 (sale), Panton Chair DWR $250

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