Home + Gardening

Patio Inspiration: Creating Outdoor Dining Space

May 25, 2015

Last Updated:

As summer approaches, I’ve been excited about spending as much time outdoors as possible. I have great memories of eating meals outside in the summer time in the Pacific Northwest. Last summer, I moved too slowly, and missed most of the patio home goods. Who knew that you have to snag outdoor stuff before summer even begins? Don’t worry, I managed to balance a plate of food on my lap while sitting in my $17 adirondack.

This year, I’ve been taking a targeted approach to getting outdoor items that I want, and on sale. Here’s how:

  1. Make a list of the items you want and how much you want to spend.
  2. Browse Pinterest for ideas.
  3. Write down the prices of items and then watch for a couple weeks to see how prices are changing.
  4. Buy ASAP if it’s a great sale or you find something at a thrift store – as it probably won’t last.
patio planning

Here’s how my outdoor dining area is shaping up…

The Table: ÄPPLARÖ Drop-leaf table
After one of the outdoor tables I’d been considering from IKEA went on sale for an IKEA Family deal (Pro tip: you don’t have to have a family to get the deal), I decided to buy. I really like that the table has the drop-leaf option, so it fits on our smaller back deck, but can also be extended to fit 8 chairs or 10 if you also put people at the ends. Living in Portland, we also bought a rain cover for it, and plan to do a coat of weather finish as well. I’m loving the large square cover we got because you can just put it over the entire table (including chairs scooted in). Definitely less hassle than stacking the chairs up or taking them inside.

ÄPPLARÖ drop-leaf table with white chairs

The Chairs: Tabouret stacking chairs
I looked around at other stores for chairs, since I didn’t want the chairs and table to be all matchy-matchy, but didn’t find anything I really liked. So we spent the first month with our new table, using indoor chairs and just taking them back inside at night. I’d been considering getting the “vintage” farmhouse-style, metal chairs, but wasn’t quite sure how it would look with my table. So I took to Pinterest, searching for IKEA tables and tabouret chairs and came across this pin from Smitten Studio of my exact table, with the exact white Tabouret stacking chairs I’d been looking at! Thank you, Pinterest!

After briefly considering getting more colorful chairs, like bright yellow or something, I decided to keep it more neutral with my bigger purchases. That way our outdoor dining area will last longer – not look as dated/trendy sooner. And I can add color with other things like plants, dishes, material without it looking like a circus on the back porch.

ikea cactus

Accessories: color and concrete
I went with a brighter and cheap patio umbrella from Target, because we needed a smaller 7.5′ one in order to fit it on the deck. IKEA also had some cheaper ones, but they looked super flimsy (more like beach parasols). Here’s to hoping it holds up to our weather.

After watching my design fav, Emily Henderson’s Take it Outside video, I was in love with the faux concrete stool and tiny concrete planters with succulents. I love the accent table/stool because it’s super sturdy – about 18 pounds – and adds an interesting textural element. Plus, it goes great with the 4″ concrete planters, also from Target. I picked up some succulents at IKEA and they all go great together. I also bought one of IKEA’s SOLVINDEN LED solar lights. I love that it looks like a little bucket and has a handle. One of my favorite outdoor items. It’s not as bright as a flashlight, but cute and even useful for lighting your way to the compost bin at night.

The yellow dipped planter I got a few years ago at Pistils Nursery, one of my favorite plant shops here in Portland. Last year, I used it for my basil plant, and this year I planted lavender in it (from Portland Nursery). The lavender is growing like crazy though, so I’ll need to transplant it soon.

The final piece of taking things outdoors for the season, was the umbrella stand. I found a great, heavy one at Reclaim It here in Portland for $10 (they get items from the dump every week and are open Friday – Sunday with new stuff). I hadn’t found my umbrella yet though, so I thought I’d wait until the next weekend. Mistake! When I went back it was of course, long gone. This week, I found a 48 pound one at Target that ended up being about $30.


APPLARO Drop-leaf table, $99, IKEA (IKEA Family discount, now $149)
Tabouret stacking chairs (set of 4), $182, Overstock (+ I’ll get $9 back via Chase Freedom card 5% cash back Q2 bonus category!)
Room Essentials 7.5′ Patio Umbrella – Citrus Herringbone, $36.75, Target (+ 15% off with the Cartwheel app, and 5% off if you have a Target red card)
Faux concrete accent table, $52.49, Target
Threshold 4″ square mini concrete planter, 6.99, Target (15% off with Cartwheel app)
Solvinden LED solar-powered table lamp, $12.99, IKEA
Cactus & succulents, $2.99-3.99, IKEA
Lavender and basil starts, Portland Nursery

Note: If you buy something at Target online or in-store, set a reminder to check the price in a week. If the price goes down, you can get the difference refunded to you for up to two weeks! Depending on the price of your item(s), that’s a great deal.

Happy outdoorsing!