With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the lives of billions of people worldwide, holiday celebrations are expected to look a bit different this year. Many Americans plan to transfer their Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah parties outdoors — with more choosing to limit the sizes of their gatherings. The CDC has recommended conducting outdoor gatherings wherever possible. Elaborating, the CDC explains that “indoor gatherings...pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.” The CDC suggests that holiday revelers modify their plans “to reduce the spread of COVID-19 [and] keep friends, families, and communities healthy and safe.” To keep your pandemic pod safe — plus fed and entertained — consider a new outdoor dining set for holiday dining. Choose from one of the year’s best outdoor dining table sets — listed below in our buying guide.
As many interior and landscape designers have noted, quality patio furniture can make any outdoor space look and feel great. It adds both function and form to the area. The usability of your home’s outdoor spaces will depend upon the appropriateness of your furnishing choices. The design of your home’s outdoor space will dictate whether or not you can leave a dining set outdoors when the weather changes. If possible, homeowners should try to store or move patio furniture to a protected area when weather events occur as this will shield furniture from wind, rain and snow — helping each piece last longer. Consider how well protected your patio dining set will be if you plan to use it year ‘round — e.g. if you have an awning or portico to cover it. The design of your backyard or patio will determine whether you can purchase sets made of more delicate materials. It will also decide if you will need to purchase hardier pieces.
As you approach your purchase, be sure to also consider the size of your patio or backyard. Remember that the shape and size of your patio or backyard will influence not only what size of furniture you can buy, but also what shapes and materials will be best suited. Prospective buyers should ask themselves if their space is narrow and long — thus better suited to an extended rectangular table — or if it is short and wide — better suited to a square or round table — before choosing the style of their dining set. Prospective buyers should also be sure to leave space around the table in order for guests and other users to walk safely and comfortably, just as you would indoors.
For many of us during this time, COVID-19 has brought along many changes to how we conduct both our time alone at home — e.g. working remotely — and our time spent with others. A great number of Americans have chosen to create “pandemic pods” during this period, socializing and gathering only with a select group of safe, careful and pandemic-serious friends and family. Though this is likely how most Americans will spend their Fall and Winter holidays this year, larger gatherings will surely resume when health officials have deemed it safe to do so. As such, purchase your outdoor dining table set with the number of people you typically entertain in mind. If your outdoor gatherings often include ten or more people, purchase a set to accommodate that number. Even if you plan to have an intimate Thanksgiving outside this year, a large patio set will serve you well! Larger dining table sets allow for better social distancing — an element perhaps especially important while eating, drinking and chatting with guests.
(Left) Royal Teak Collection Compass Dining Set, From PatioLiving
Many patios and backyards offer a number of different furniture placement options. However — as already mentioned — the design of your space might limit what type of dining table set you can purchase. It will also affect the general placement of the set. As you consider a dining table set, think about whether or not you want your set to be exposed to elements. You might not mind the sun shining in your face or a light breeze passing over the table during the summer. However, you might become quite bothered by rain or snow during the winter if your set is uncovered.
You should also consider what kind of surface you plan to place your patio dining set on. Do you have a deck or do you only have grass in your backyard? Is your deck well-sealed and tightly closed, or will thin chair legs slip through? If the latter is the case, placing your furniture elsewhere might be a better idea. You should also consider how frequently you will need to move furniture around — e.g. from the grass during the summer to the covered deck during the winter — and how difficult this endeavor will be.
The climate of your area will directly affect the type of materials you can use in outdoor furniture. Dry and warm conditions may cause damage to wood, making it crack or split when exposed for a long period of time. If your home’s outdoor climate is dry and hot during the summer, you might choose an aluminum set. However, if your home is subject to strong winds, you might do best with a heavier treated wood set as strong winds can toss around lighter metals like aluminum. If you live in a moist or humid climate, you might want to leave behind the trendy wicker furniture. This is because wicker will not endure against constant moisture or humidity exposure.
While there are many options available for patio furniture, few are suitable for all climates. For instance, each metal is best suited for a different type of environment. As mentioned above, aluminum is very light and will fly away when hit with a gust of wind. Stainless steel is great for cool climates because it heats up quickly — making it the wrong choice for hot climates — but lasts a long time, even against harsh weather conditions like snow. Wrought iron is well-weighted and attractive, but will rust if the relative humidity climbs above 50% outdoors. Overall, consumers will do well to avoid wood furniture — even “durable and all-weather hardwood” — for wet climates, place wicker only in covered areas no matter where you live and choose sturdy metal furniture for high-exposure areas.
When determining which patio dining set to purchase for your home’s outdoor set, be sure to consider the style of dining and type of atmosphere you would like to create. Do you want a simple and casual — yet intimate — space intended for small informal gatherings with friends of private dinners with your partner? Or are you hoping to create a truly elegant and sophisticated space for dinners with colleagues, for fundraising events or other more formal occasions? The level of formality you require for your backyard or patio will largely determine the style and design of your outdoor dining set. Some materials — like teak and metal — are versatile and suitable for both informal and formal dining occasions. However, others like wrought iron are much more casual. Furthermore, sharp lines, dark colors and elevated finishes will add glamour and sophistication to your space — especially during the evenings — while brighter colors and unfinished pieces will make the space more casual.
(Left) Vifah Bradley Acacia Wood White 4 Piece Dining Set (Center) Vifah Bradley Acacia Wood White 3 Piece Bar Set (Right) Fermob Bistro Steel Dining Set, Available through PatioLivng
Take advice from the design time at House Beautiful and fill your patio or backyard with crisp, clean white furniture. All white gardens are all the rage right now — and are expected to continue their upward climb through 2021. To make the most of the trend, add a few white flowers to your garden and accessorize with neutral-colored and natural material place-sets. The juxtaposition between the colors of your outdoor space — foliage, the facade of your home and the color of your deck — and your white patio dining set will make a striking impression.
Break down the barriers between the interior of your home and its exterior by creating a true living space outdoors. One of the most exciting patio furniture trends of 2020 has been the shift towards garden furniture that imitates indoor furniture. The trend has gone the opposite direction as well — with interior furniture pieces taking the lead from outdoor furniture. Wicker was one of the first materials to make the jump — with performance fabrics following soon after. To replicate this trend in your own backyard, choose a dining set that resembles an interior set. However, make sure it also offers the durability required of outdoor dining. The two sets pictured above could easily be found in a sunroom, an indoor dining room or an outdoor dining space.
(Center) Oxford Garden Travira Aluminum Dining Set and (Right) International Home Miami Amazonia Charlotte Deluxe 9 Piece Rectangular Dining Set, Both from PatioLiving
Face any fears you might have about clashing patterns or materials when choosing your patio dining set this year. 2021 is expected to be a year of bold design — both inside and outside the home — so don’t be afraid to mix things up! Consider mixing materials in your backyard. For instance, add an industrial touch to classic cobblestone landscaping with metal furniture. You can also mix materials in a single piece — choosing dining chairs that have wood and metal or two contrasting colors. The mixture of materials, colors and tones creates more visual interest and adds depth to any space.
Consider the Oxford Garden Travira Aluminum Dining Set — pictured above in the center — from PatioLiving to capture this trend. The set is composed of powder coated aluminum and natural teakwood. Another option is the International Home Miami Amazonia Charlotte Deluxe 9 Piece Rectangular Dining Set from PatioLiving. The table has been constructed from eucalyptus wood, while the chairs are a mix of eucalyptus and virgin white resin.
(Center) Zuo Outdoor Metropolitan Aluminum Faux Wood Dining Set and (Right) Oxford Garden Travira Aluminum Dining Set, Both from PatioLiving
Biophilic design has been in vogue for several years — only increasing during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the desire for a natural, organic space often turns homeowners away from metal pieces and metallic finishes. In actuality, metal is absolutely a natural material — and a versatile one at that. Metal meshes well with stone, wood, wicker and many other materials common to outdoor furniture. It also offers durability, bounces light and adds elegance to outdoor spaces. In 2021, consider a high-gloss set made of aluminum or an aged, brushed set that offers a bit more patina and vintage feel.
(Center) Seasonal Living Explorer Acacia Wood Oceans Dining Group Set and (Right) Modloft Outdoor Laced Dark Gray Cord / Weathered Eucalyptus Dining Side Chair (Sold in 2), Both from PatioLiving
Earlier this year, Forbes declared rope furniture one 2021 trend to seriously consider incorporating into one’s own home in the new year. Rope has typically been relegated solely to coastal design. However, with varied finishes and designs becoming increasingly available, the material has become much more versatile. Today, rope furniture can be used in its classic nautical setting. It can also be used in high-design contemporary spaces, antique-inspired spaces and industrial spaces.