Need your help to plan and design my outdoor dining space

You may have read in my 2017 New Year’s resolutions that I’m on a mission to finish our house this year!

One space that has serious potential but I’ve done nothing with is our outdoor dining space — a large undercover area that our kitchen opens out to via oversized stacking doors.

Up until now, it’s just been Arnie’s bedroom (our gorgeous Rottie you can see here) and a space where I do many of our larger DIYs. Although I did make a small improvement in the back corner with this vertical garden Kmart hack.

My eventual goal for this space is to be an outdoor kitchen / outdoor dining area / bar area.

The space

The outdoor area is 6.1m wide by 5.5m deep and there is a 2m nib wall in the back left corner where I intend to create an outdoor bar (the vertical garden mentioned above sits on this wall). The stacking doors that open out to this space are 3.6m wide.

One wall is red brick (where the outdoor kitchen will run), one wall is white render (with the stacking doors), and the other wall black metal cladding. The flooring is a large grey tile, similar to Bluestone.

Kitchen to outdoor area
View from kitchen to outdoor space
Designing outdoor space
Area where I intend to put the outdoor bar. The Kmart hack vertical garden sits on this wall

I don’t have any great pics of the space looking in from the back yard but here is one during the build, before it was tiled (imagine grass where the swamp is and a little bit of planting behind the rock wall).

Backyard view
Backyard view during build… not quite this disastrous now but you get the idea

Outdoor area design

At the moment, this space is pretty much a blank canvas but there is provision for gas and water along the wall where the outdoor kitchen is marked so there’s isn’t much option to move this.

Here is a sketch of how I was thinking of using the space…

Potential use of outdoor space
Potential use of outdoor space

A large outdoor dining setting would take up most of the area, encouraging outdoor dining during the warmer months and we left provision for ceiling mounted outdoor heaters so it will be great when they eventually go in.

The back corner that you can see from the kitchen has the vertical garden and underneath I was planning on making a bar with three bar stools — a spot where you can enjoy a cold bevy while keeping an eye on the kids playing in the back yard.

I love the idea of a fancy pants outdoor kitchen like ones on The Block with in-built fridges and grills so this is what I’m hoping will happen along that side wall.

What do you think of this use of space and layout? Anything you would change or add?

I should say I have another outdoor area that will be an outdoor living room which is why I haven’t created a relaxed seating area here.

Outdoor dining inspiration

Like the rest of my home, I’d like this space to have a contemporary Australian vibe. Here is some inspo I’ve found…

Outdoor dining space
Image via Hannah Blackmore photography

Love the minimalist cool of this outdoor dining space but with the black metal cladding wall, I feel an all-black setting would get lost. Perhaps I’ll steal the pot plant idea on the table though 🙂

Minimalist outdoor dining area
Image via My Unfinished Home

And here is another black furniture outdoor dining space that caught my eye (I think this table is like 5m long though!).

Oversized outdoor dining table
Image via Huis van Oordeghem

This outdoor dining space feels a lot more liveable and more in line with the contemporary Australian vibe I’m going for.

Modern Australian dining area
Image via Scyon

In terms of decorating, there’s a lot I like in this photo although much of it is more bohemian than I would go. I love the festoon lights (I’ve already bought two boxes and am unsure if I’ll use both in the outdoor living room or one in each outdoor space).

Image via Gardening Living
Image via Gardening Living

Have you spotted any gorgeous outdoor dining spaces? I’d love you to drop a link to them in the comments below!

Furniture selections

At the moment, I have a rather bulky dark wood outdoor dining setting which is fine but not really fitting with the rest of my home.

Having hunted around the shops for months looking for outdoor dining settings, I’ve come to realise that there isn’t a great selection of affordable mainstream pieces.

Of course, if budget wasn’t an issue, Jardan has a gorgeous series called Yogi but having been to their showroom and falling in love with an ottoman that was nearly $1000, I can bet this is way out of my price range.

Yogi outdoor dining table from Jardan
Yogi outdoor dining table from Jardan

In terms of more affordable mainstream options, Freedom have a similar feel outdoor table but the rounded edges aren’t quite me. Also, having enquired about many of their outdoor furniture pieces and finding out they wouldn’t arrive until the end of Summer I was a little put off from ordering.

Freedom outdoor table
Freedom outdoor table

Then it occurred to me to look at pieces from the incredible furniture makers we feature on the blog and boyandgirlco have an outdoor setting that I’m seriously loving. I was thinking of only getting a table made and pairing this with simple white wire chairs like the ones from Kmart and possibly having two feature wire chairs like these ones from Zanui at the head and tail of the table.

Boyandgirlco outdoor setting
Outdoor setting by boyandgirlco
Feature wire chairs from Zanui for head and tail of table
Possible feature wire chairs from Zanui

What do you think about these furniture choices? Have you spotted any outdoor dining settings that have a contemporary feel?

I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you have for our outdoor dining space!


  1. Okay, so I’m wading in late here but hopefully not too late!
    I’d forgo the bar area. I mean, what are you going to do? Store booze out there all the time? Cart it back and forth every time you have guests over?

    How about instead, you take advantage of the roof above you and created a swing seat or swinging daybed here. You know the ones I mean- all those Pinterest ones made out of old pallets (for, almost, no cost financially)? or
    If you are going to supervising the kids playing in the yard, why not give yourself a really comfy space?

    If you do build in the barbecue, can I just warn you to put it as far away from the house as possible. If there is going to be a big BOOM (gas explosion) or something setting on fire from the flaming bbq, it will be good to have a bit of extra space between it and your house.

    • Hi Louise, thanks so much for your comment and your suggestions haven’t come too late at all! It’s winter here in Australia now so not much has progressed out here lately.

      I love the idea of a hanging swing/seat but unfortunately the roof finishes just after the dining table so I wouldn’t have something to fix it to. I did get quite a few suggestions for a bench seat and possibly fire pit here which I liked too. For the bar, I was thinking less of a bar cart or somewhere to store alcohol, and more a fixed high table ledge (permanent structure) where I could have bar stools below. This would give people somewhere to sit casually but I much prefer the suggestions for a bench now.

      Fortunately we thought ahead for the outdoor kitchen and have a gas line running to that wall so it will there won’t be any gas tanks built in. But we were planning on putting it as far away from the house as possible for smoke reasons too.

      You’ve inspired me to revisit this space and get it finished in time for Spring. Thank you xx

    • Oh that’s cute! It’s got a real classic picnic table look about it but the all-white finish makes it feel more modern… a definite contender 🙂 BTW I just spent hours looking through their entire range, bahaha, now I have a wish list a mile long including about 3 bench seats like this one and this one… no idea where I’d put them but I think I need them! Hahaha

        • Yessss love and love! I am seriously crushing on wire leg furniture so that armchair is a definite goer!

          Oh man, you’re enabling my shopping addiction Jane 🙂 Just watch, it won’t be long before you see pics of a bench seat in my home on the blog ha ha ha xx

          • I’m not even going to pretend to feel guilty :b I was fixated on getting a bench seat but am not a huge fan of the teak they use on the BL Trenery, it might just be the images online, I haven’t seen it in person. But I somehow found the Kent bench through a Google search (it doesn’t seem to appear on their products page?). Anyhow, I reckon I’ve looked at almost every bench seat on the internet by now!

            I had a mini shopping frenzy last night but I’m still on the lookout for a couple of armchairs, a dining table and chairs, side tables, a coffee table, artwork…the list goes on. So if you’ve seen anything cool or new, please share!

            • Wow, that’s quite a list. Have you seen the bench seat/day bed from
              SIT-KA? They’re the newest gorgeous ones I’ve found and are made from Victorian Ash but aren’t cheap For a more affordable option, I’ve been eyeing this one from Matt Blatt (I like the simple Scandi design and that’s it’s reversible… and the price too 😉 ).
              Did you see this post we did with investment pieces for the home? It has a few other favourites that you might not have seen
              If I spot anything else, I’ll be sure to let you know!

              • Wow, that SIT-KA bench is stunning! It’s probably lucky I didn’t see it before I committed to the Barnaby Lane seat or I may have been torn. The Matt Blatt one is very nice too, who doesn’t love a reversible?

                I loved your post about the investment pieces, I’ve already been back to revisit it today 🙂 I love the shape of the Chill Chair but I’m worried the cat might see it as a great scratching post. There are a few items I could easily take home from Jardan too but the styling budget this time around probably won’t allow it! I’ll see how I go tonight, hopefully I will make the perfect discovery x

  2. Love your ideas! We found an amazing outdoor Lounge set from Winston teak. Make sure you check them out. We are asking a carpenter to build us and outdoor table as we want a longer and skinnier one than we could find. So that could also be an option? That way it can be the perfect fit for the space…

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for those ideas! Winston Teak have a gorgeous collection (although a little more pricey than my budget at this stage) so I can imagine your outdoor lounge will be stunning! Hmmm a carpenter is another idea or I know the guys at boyandgirlco also do custom furniture so I could get them to change the size of the table and finish if I need… What are your thoughts on decorative pieces? Have you found any beautiful outdoor decor? x

  3. It sounds like the beginnings of the perfect chillout spot to me! I like the layout you’ve shown but one idea could be switching the bar to the BBQ kitchen side so you could either sit facing the cook or the yard?

    I’d never seen the Jardan Yogi table, loving the one with the mint coloured legs! I like this table a lot – it’s on sale but it might still be a bit more than you want to spend.

    What do you think of outdoor rugs?

    • Ohh thanks for the ideas Jane and for linking to that Brosa table – it’s gorgeous too. Looks like you couldn’t have a chair at the head and tail of the table though because the way the legs are designed (like a chair couldn’t slide under?). I would like to fit at least 8 people around our outdoor table… And I like idea of sitting at the bar and being able to see the cook so I’ll play around with the layout a bit more (I will need to keep access to the backyard open which is why I thought putting the bar against the brick wall would work but I might be able to rotate it 90 degrees or something??). I am all for outdoor rugs and another space I’m designing that I’ll share soon is our outdoor living area and I have a rug there (you can take a peek here unfortunately I don’t think I can have one in the outdoor dining area though because Arnie will be out here and he can’t be trusted 😉

      • Good point about the no. of chairs, the more the merrier… Your outdoor living area looks fab! I really hope we have a good few years of greys in us, it’s sooo easy on the eye. Lucky you having two outdoor areas!

  4. I like the light furniture you’ve found, it will contrast nicely against the darker flooring and walls in the space. Decoration-wise given it’s undercover you could go over the top with hanging planters like this picture and some other ideas instead of a bar could be a mini veggie garden, sun chair or fire pit. Looking forward to seeing this space develop 🙂

    • Thanks for all those ideas Amber! And that Pinterest image is so swoon-worthy! I was a little concerned about hanging plants because eventually there’ll be an outdoor kitchen there too and I didn’t want to fry the plants but I could certainly hang some closer to the black metal clad wall.
      I think you and Sarah are on to a winner with that fire pit idea… my head is bubbling over with ideas so let’s see what I come up with x

  5. Such a great space to work with and I adore your inspiration pictures. Another idea insterad of a bar could be to have a fire pit with stools around? A place to enjoy roasted marshmallows in the cold Canberra months 🙂

    Great choice of furniture and the one from Boy and Girl is a winner!

    • Ohhh love the idea of a fire pit, Sarah! Yep, totally loving the boyandgirlco furniture and just went and bought the wire metal chairs today before they all sell out! Hmmm I might even look at doing a DIY fire pit… so many ideas 🙂


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here