Feature / Trends

How to create a bohemian-style outdoor dining experience

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With spring in the air and summer just around the corner, alfresco dining is officially back on the menu. And who doesn’t love a seasonal soiree with friends?

There’s nothing more rewarding than preparing an intimate gathering for loved ones with the sweet scent of cherry blossoms and dappled evening light to bask in. Um, yes please.

So now that we’re all in agreeance, it’s time to share our top tips for outdoor entertaining and the theme is midsummer night’s dream.

1. Do feature a low set table on the grass with patterned cushions for seats

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We have been fans of NY interior designer, Athena Calderone of Eye Swoon for some time now, she just oozes style, glamour and sophistication. But just as her site title suggests, she just has an `eye’ for design that has us swooning every time and her latest post is no exception. She prepared a beautiful bohemian-style dinner at her summer home in Amagansett. The low communal table in the grass was our favourite feature, complete with Moroccan rugs scattered across the lawn. In the above image Athena has gone for a clean, modern design, but we also love the rustic flavour of a raw wooden style like below.

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2. Twinkly fairy lights or bulbs strung up over head, or chandeliers for that real sense of bohemia

We all know the key to any successful interior is lighting and the same rules apply for the exterior too. When entertaining outside you have the beauty of natural light, but as the sun goes down into a balmy evening, guests will be thankful for that soft glow of warm dappled lighting, especially if your party started with a champagne pop in the early afternoon.

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3. Candles, lots and lots of candles

Even with the help of fairy lights, nothing compares to the beauty of a candle lit dinner. You can keep the style and shape the same across the table, or opt for a more bohemian approach and feature varying sizes and shapes on vintage brass candelabras.

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4. Napkins

With an outdoor setting, it goes without saying that you will need a decent napkin for each of your guests. And by that we mean a quality fabric such as a durable cotton or linen variety that can last the duration of the evening and mop up any spills that may occur. The design style is completely up to you, but we love the look of natural linen colour or something bold like a pop of purple or burnt saffron.

5. Cups, wine glasses & goblets

With a long night ahead of you, it’s best to offer a variety of glasses for each guest including one for water, another for wine, and an option for beer (it looks nicer than having beer bottles everywhere). You could even use jam jars for the water glasses, that’s definitely bohemian!

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6. Cutlery

Even though you’re alfresco, a quality range of cutlery should be provided. Plastic seems practical at the time but it completely detracts from the dining experience and isn’t so great for the environment either. If you’re looking for something fun, then we love the new colourful French cutlery from Laguiole by Jean Neron at Temple & Webster. But if you’re hoping for a more laid back vibe, then mixing up the styles with the old and the new, large and small, is also a great option.

7. The table decoration should feature an abundance of foliage and flowers

A midsummer night theme isn’t complete without a table littered with flowers and plants. You don’t have to spend too much money here, just buy a bunch of flowers from the local market and split them up into glass bottles you’ve collected. We love how Eye Swoon has included some of her own clippings from around the garden, this with the flowers gives a more casual effect and not too staged or `done’. Even garden herbs in pots scattered in amongst this is lovely, or clippings could be added to the mix in jars.

 8. Chairs

And finally, if you want your guests to be seated off the ground then we love this look from jewellery designer, Samantha Wills who gave each person a different chair at the table. It’s fun, quirky and means you don’t have to go out and buy new ones. It really adds to the relaxed feel of the bohemian midsummer night theme too.

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Are you planning a spring summer outdoor soiree? What are your tips for the perfect alfresco dining experience? Let us know if we’ve missed anything in the comments below. We’d love to know.

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