The idea of outdoor dining spaces has been around for quite a while. However, since the pandemic hit, it has become a rather necessary addition. Since fear built around indoor dining, where all the diners are seated in a covered space, people began fearing contracting the virus. Therefore, restaurants and hotels alike have had to improvise to embrace the outdoor dining concept. This has been important not just to keep business going but also give the guests a safe and comfortable dining experience.
The love for outdoor dining concepts is not just limited to the hospitality industry, but being embraced by homeowners alike. An outdoor dining space is not as simple as it may sound. The space needs to be well planned, and each element has to be carefully picked to create the right ambience while ensuring functionality. From the floor to the lighting, everything needs to be curated with a good amount of thought.
Here is a complete guide to setting up an ideal outdoor dining space, that looks and serves just as great:
PICK THE RIGHT LOCATION
In an outdoor dining space, location is the most important factor. The location can make or break the space’s aesthetic as well as functionality. The location that you pick needs to be one that has an ample amount of space according to the foot traffic you expect. Unlike traditional dining, outdoor dining spaces keeping in mind covid fears, have to be strategized to have more space between the placements.
This is essential for the safety of the customers as well as peace of mind. Further, the location has to be such that it can accommodate the design as well as be comfortably placed in terms of exposure to the weather.
START WITH THE PROPER FLOORING
Flooring is crucial to the dining space’s ambience and functionality. Since it is installed outdoors, the floor is directly exposed to the weather and climate changes. Therefore the flooring needs to be such that it is durable and does not react to even extreme weather. Mixed wooden decks for instance, are a popular pick. They give the look of a wooden floor, but in a more durable package.
You could also go for a gritty stone floor, a stunning terrazzo or even colorful tiles. While picking a surface, just assure that it is as comfortable as possible, and is not too slippery to be particular, since moisture may settle on the floor.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT DINING SET
The dining set you pick is directly evident of the theme you are going for. The design needs to be such that it goes with your vision as well as what the space demands. Be it a vintage inspired wrought iron set, a rustic stained wooden set, or even a well crafted wicker set, there are a lot of unique options to pick from. Keeping the design apart, the functionality needs to be prioritized as well. The material used to make the furniture needs to be such that it is durable and resistant to the outdoor climatic changes as well as able to endure the foot traffic you expect.
It is also just as important to ensure that the furniture is lightweight and easy to move in case of extreme weather, or simply to pack up at the end of a day. There needs to be a good amount of flexibility in your furniture setup to acclimate to bigger or smaller parties easily. While ensuring practicality, assure that the furniture you pick has a welcoming and comforting quality about it for a positive dining experience.
STRATEGIZE TO ACCOMMODATE
Depending on the foot traffic and the kind of space you have, you need to strategize your space effectively. Whether you are looking to offset some of the indoor crowd to the outdoor area, or go for a completely outdoor concept, alters the capacity and seating plan that you would need to implement. The first important thing to do is to create a layout. Factoring in the space you need, there needs to be a balance between the different seating settings, and the space left for free movement.
Even the walkways allotted for the staff and the guests need to be well thought out in the space to avoid cramming or clashes. You could strategize to use seatings that take up less space and are flexible, if you see a moderate foot traffic. In places where larger groups are frequenting, arrangements need to be made to accommodate more seating in one table, while ensuring the right spacing between them.
While the idea to dine outdoors is more of an open and free concept,this could often come with its own disturbances. While some may enjoy conversation and laughter, others may like a quiet meal, or at least a feeling of solitariness. To give the guests the outdoor experience while giving them their own space to enjoy, you could create partitions amongst the seatings. You could opt for carved wooden partitions, or ones of tinted glass for a beautiful look.
While actually installing partitions is a good option, it may not always be feasible. Therefore, you could create privacy through screens, the layout that you pick, by swapping a U shaped open layout for a square closed one or placing at a strategic distance. You could even utilize plants and decor pieces placed strategically to part the space with ease.
PLAN ACCORDING TO THE WEATHER
Weather and climatic changes are the number one challenge while planning an outdoor seating space. Therefore, you need to have services and plans to keep up with the weather changes and give your guests a comfortable environment. Awnings in particular are a great way to ensure that. Awnings are essentially canvas sheets that go over a space to give it some shade. Awnings help protect the guests from the direct hot sun rays or even the rain as they dine comfortably.
They are made in some of the most beautiful designs and are resistant to water, making them a great pick. In places where an awning can not be put in, or if it doesn't fit your liking, you could go for table umbrellas, either fit into the furniture, or portable to be installed as needed. This helps ensure that no matter the weather, the guests are able to dine in peace.
ACCENTUATE WITH NATURE
Outdoor dining is essentially an immersive experience for guests to enjoy the great outdoors, the view and the nature sometimes as they dine. Having a location enveloped by nature is not always possible. Therefore, greenery is vital. Potted plants and flowers can help create the effect of being surrounded by nature. This helps create a good atmosphere for the guests as they dine. Being surrounded by nature and greenery has a certain soothing quality to it, which could help improve the atmosphere.
One could also introduce a water element if possible to facilitate the similar feel of being amidst nature. You could opt for smaller indoor fountains, or accentuate with a bigger feature like a waterfall wall, or even a classy garden fountain. Having such features in your outdoor dining area can help liven it up easily.
LIGHTING FOR AMBIENCE
While in the daytime, the great natural light alone Could suffice for the dining area, one needs to plan for when the sun sets. Lighting crucial to the kind of ambience you wish to create in a space. If you are going for a bold theme, then colored, neon or trickling lights could help match the space with the theme while giving it a fun look. For a more simple look, you could utilize warmer and softer lights to create a more dreamy ambience.
You could also add focal lights to shed more focus on certain portions of the area. Adding floor lights on the walkways in particular could make it more convenient for you guests to navigate themselves, while making the space look great. You could get creative with different kinds of fixtures and light encasings to match your theme perfectly, and give your space just what it needs.
Outdoor dining is a trend that is here to stay. Dining with a view of the great outdoors is a lovely concept to go by. Especially in the covid world, it's not just a want but a need. Restaurants and hotels alike are embracing this concept to create a scenic experience for their guests. Whether you are from the hospitality industry, or simply a homeowner, the above guide is all you need to set up a well designed outdoor dining space.