Sharing a great meal is synonymous with catching up with friends and family, and when it’s enjoyed outside it seems even more relaxed.
The key to easy outdoor entertaining is great furniture that suits your space and how you like to use it – and the centrepiece is often an outdoor table. So it’s worth taking the time to assess your needs, the size of the space you’re furnishing and the look and feel you want to create.
Are you a keen entertainer in need of a big table for large groups, or just a smaller more intimate setting the family can gather around for midweek meals? Perhaps you enjoy sinking into a comfy outdoor lounge chair with a morning coffee, in which case a coffee or side table could complete your set up? If you’re looking for a perch to enjoy a view, a great option might be a bar table suited to casual meals and drinks. If you choose a product that matches your lifestyle, it’ll get plenty of use.
The dimensions of your outdoor area and existing furniture will influence the size of your table. Coffee and side tables can often sit quite snugly alongside chairs or lounges, with just a small gap required for movement around them. For bar and dining tables, though, it’s best to allow at least a metre clearance around the table perimeter to accommodate seating and access.
To help visualise what will work in your space, draw up a basic layout with measurements of the area where you plan to place the table. A handy tip is to use masking tape to map out different furniture sizes on the ground. Consider which shape and size is proportional to the space – if it’s oversized it can crowd the area, but if it’s too tiny it may seem insubstantial.
Rectangular tables are popular as they suit a symmetrical layout and can accommodate extra seating at the ends if needed. Round tables can work well in more compact spaces and offer a more intimate feel.
Timber, aluminium and glass are popular dining table materials, with side and coffee tables an opportunity to introduce interesting shapes and styles, from concrete and terrazzo looks, to polyethylene (PE) wicker and rattan. To help narrow the selection, consider maintenance requirements and how your chosen product will look alongside your existing furniture.
Powder-coated aluminium evokes a coastal vibe and being rust resistant suits a beachside or pool setting.
Hardwood timber is timeless and complements a range of looks, from modern Australian to the ever-popular Hamptons, yet does require regular re-oiling.
Glass-topped tables have a reflective, translucent quality but do show fingerprints and will need to be handled more gently.
Lastly, consider if extra functionality is desirable. If you’re after a table that’s easy to move, lightweight aluminium might be the best option. If it’s destined to sit in a sunny spot, a hole for a shade umbrella might be a handy inclusion.
An extendable tabletop lets you tailor the size to suit the occasion. Similarly, if you choose a heavy-duty side table it can double as a stool, providing an extra seat when required, or moonlight as a pot plant holder if you want to alter your set-up at a later date.
You’ll definitely want a reliable barbecue. Check out our ultimate BBQ buying guide.
Photo credit: Brigid Arnott and James Moffatt
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.