If your current alfresco dining situation consists of little more than a table and chairs, here are ten items that will brighten things up on a budget.
We've gotten used to making the most out of our own homes over the last few months, between elaborate cinema setups and impressive home gyms. However, in Ireland, we're usually reluctant to invest in any outdoor dining space we might have, whether it's a balcony or a patio in the garden.
It's understandable - there's large parts of the year where it's going to go unused, but we're in peak summertime now, and I'm here to tell you that it's time to eat outside.
There's an inexplicable joy to dining alfresco: suddenly even the most basic lunch feels special, and you could almost be on holidays. Working from home has also given people the chance to enjoy their outdoor space more - even a simple cup of coffee tastes better with the sunshine on your face.
However, if the extent of your outdoor dining setup is a table and chairs, you might not often feel inclined to venture out. However, it's easy to brighten things up a bit, and doesn't have to cost much, either. Here are ten pieces under €50 that will have you dining out(side) every night.
Perhaps you don't love sitting in direct sunlight, or wish your table had a bit more shelter. This canopy from Ikea can be hung above it, and also creates the feeling of a room, or defined zone in your outdoor space. It's also much cheaper than most outdoor cover options like pergolas or gazebos. Dyning canopy, €28, Ikea.
Having a set of plates specifically to bring outdoors stops any worries about things getting broken, and you can also go for a bolder design than you might for your everyday set. These bamboo plates come in six individual designs, so you can mix and match or buy a few of the same pattern. Bamboo plate, from €7.50, Article.
A tablecloth will make even the most weather-beaten table look elegant. Linen is a great choice as it is not only hardwearing, but it looks even better when it's a little crumpled, giving a laid-back vibe. It's machine-washable, too, in case of any spills. Washed linen tablecloth, €39.99, H&M.
Whether it's filled with iced water and lemon slices or that sangria your friends always ask you to make, a beautiful jug will find its way to the centre of your table again and again. This gorgeous green design from Hay also has a wonderfully irregular finish. Jug with lilac handle, €45, Finnish Design Shop.
An outdoor rug will make your space feel welcoming, and more like an extension of your home. It's also a great way to add colour to a small balcony or garden where there isn't much space to plant flowers. Boho woven folded outdoor rug,
€42, Oliver Bonas.
If you find yourself going back inside when the light fades, why not get a lantern? Candles create a wonderful ambience, and this large lantern will also cast a warm glow around your space. Usually priced at €24.99, it's currently just €10, which is a real bargain. Strand lantern, €10, JYSK.
These gorgeous enamel plates are in no danger of getting broken, but look just as good as any ceramic set with their marbled design. They're suited to the outdoors, yet they'll almost certainly make their way into your everyday rotation, too. Soft Ice lunch plate, €18, Finnish Design Shop.
Whether it's slices of bread to accompany a light lunch or a delicious roasted fish for dinner, this beautiful serving platter will make it feel special. Although you'll definitely use it when eating inside, too, its floral pattern will make you long for a sunny day to enjoy it outside. Printemps Small Serving Platter, €38, Anthropologie.
When using placemats outdoors, you want them to be a little more hardwearing than your average set. This seagrass design will also add a wonderful natural texture to your table, and they're tough enough to set hot pots and pans on as well. Seagrass table mat, €4.50, Industry & Co.
To keep you comfortable all evening, a cushion is a great way to make your outdoor furniture more inviting. This one from Woodie's is water repellent, so it can easily withstand the occasional shower: simply shake it dry. Leyla Green Chevron Cushion, €9.99, Woodie's.
Featured image: Soft Ice lunch plates, Hay.
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