Turn your porch or patio into a gorgeous gathering space with our favorite ideas for alfresco dining.
1 of 20Photo: Tria Giovan; Styling: Elizabeth Beeler
Find Your Color Scheme
Consider the colors naturally present in your outdoor space to create a peaceful look. Green accents in the rug and table runner on this beautiful Vieques, Puerto Rico, porch mimic the surrounding flora perfectly.
Generous seating and fluffy pillows will make your guests want to kick back and stay a while. Having the choice to switch between chairs and a built-in bench is a good way to mix things up.
3 of 20Photo: John Ellis; Styling: Laura Hull
Divide Your Space
This Laguna Beach garden features a terraced design that creates natural “rooms” within the space. To the left is a relaxed dining area, and to the right a casual bar. If your space doesn’t include terraced walls, consider delineating rooms with different flooring, plants, or styles of furniture.
4 of 20Photographer: David Tsay
Play Up the View
When your outdoor space has a vista like this, it’s best to let it do the talking. Try using neutral furnishings that mimic the home’s construction. Here, the dining furniture matches the decking perfectly so as not to steal the show.
5 of 20Photo: Jean Allsop
Extend Your Living Space
These Sag Harbor, New York, homeowners created fantastic flow from indoors to out with French doors that open to a casual bluestone patio.
6 of 20Photographer: Tria Giovan
Mix Business and Pleasure
A long, rectangular space could have proved tough to design, but by creating separate seating and dining areas, the space works well. The designer used matching color schemes for each space (warm tones in the seating area and blue in the dining space) while tying them together with similarly finished wood furnishings.
7 of 20Photo: Laura Moss
Make it Cozy
Though this Southampton, New York, home tends toward a modern feel, its u-shaped built-in dining space—and oversized fireplace—give it a warm and intimate vibe.
8 of 20Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Writer: Rachel Bertone
Go Low Maintenance
A pea gravel groundcover is stylish, fuss-free, and requires virtually no upkeep. In this space, it echoes the locally sourced-stone fireplace, and the driftwood mantel matches the comfy dining furniture.
9 of 20Photographer: Jeff McNamara, Writer: Rachel Bertone
Maximize Small Spaces
Though the size of this patio isn’t large, its impact is. The decking acts as built-in bench seating, and the tree provides shade on sunny days. The homeowners installed a stylish metal chandelier for evening ambience.
10 of 20Photographer: Tria Giovan
Bring the Indoors Outside
A simple side yard was transformed into a cozy entertaining space with the addition of the sleek and attractive dining set and an unexpected touch: the bar/serving station, which is perfect for making company feel at home.
11 of 20Photo: Lisa Romerein
Try Bold Colors
Go ahead; be more daring with outdoor pillows than you would be with indoor ones. These bright coral, blue, and green ones pack a punch of energy and cheer. AstroTurf covers the patio instead of grass, so the bright green will never go dull with dreary weather.
12 of 20Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Focus on the View
If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard that looks like this, let it shine. Place furniture where you can best revel in the setting―it doesn’t have to be next to the house. Broad umbrellas allow you to relax by the sea without melting in the heat.
13 of 20Photographer: Joe Schmelzer, Writer: Rachel Bertone
Go Sleek and Simple
With a straight-edge table and stylishly modern umbrella, this outdoor patio keeps entertaining simple. A multilevel patio breaks the space up into separate outdoor rooms.
14 of 20Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Stylist: Jennifer Barguiarena
Reflect the Sea
On the sunny upper deck of this California cottage, all-weather wicker chairs and a black iron table get a jolt of color from pillows that borrow their aqua shade from the beach breakers below. The pillows' coral print introduces the sea life theme that is played out in accessories throughout the house.
15 of 20Photo: Tria Giovan
Keep it Casual
Our 2012 Ultimate Beach House in Rosemary Beach, Florida, features an outdoor retreat that's both low key and dreamy. The seating is comfortable and casual, perfect for a sandwich lunch or cocktails by the pool. The oval cutout and tenting give the space an exotic feel.
16 of 20Photographer: David Tsay
Go Au Naturel
To keep the ocean backdrop the main focus of this deck, this designer chose natural-hued furniture with lots of texture.
17 of 20Photo J. Savage Gibson, Stylist Heather Chadduck,
Try a Touch of Glamour
This outdoor living room is far from a ho-hum porch. It's not often that you see an all-white outfitted outdoor space, but it works well here thanks to the warm wood floors and colorful accent pieces, like the turquoise lantern and garden stool.
18 of 20Photo Annie Schlechter
Stay True to Your Style
Old world, modern, preppy, you name it, make sure you evoke your favorite looks in your outdoor rooms for maximum enjoyment.
19 of 20Photo by Brian Vanden Brink
Choose Weather-Smart Furnishings
When it comes to outdoor furniture, weather proofing is a must. The covers on these director’s chairs can be easily replaced as they age or modified to suit the season. Today's outdoor fabric choices are vast, allowing you to change up the style and feel of your space whenever you get the urge.
20 of 20Photo: Johnny Valiant
This Alys Beach, Florida, porch is the perfect spot for enjoying a bite or a sip while watching the Gulf of Mexico's welcoming waters. The homeowners outfitted it with a bistro-style outdoor table and chairs to make sure they had an unencumbered view of the horizon.