The Allure of Alfresco

By Kate Riley June 16, 2009

There’s something about June that makes me long to dine alfresco with friends and family. I love to bring tablecloths and tableware outside, and sit awhile as the sun goes down. We dine later, we drink chilled white wine, and we enjoy the fine weather.

Here is a glance at some clippings from my inspiration file. These all draw me to the table in some way or another.

country living july 08

All you need is a simple tablecloth and napkins on a plank picnic table, united with some colored glass, and a bowl of fruit to linger long under this tree. Chairs and bench by Smith and Hawken. Country Living, July 2008

source perrier catalog

I am loving this fuchsia tablecloth mixed with green chairs in this pretty table setting. Notice the silver chargers and hydrangea napkins. How gorgeous are those French doors ? Source Perrier catalog.

trad home july 03 2

I love the large blue floral on these pillows and ottomans in this home in the Hamptons. A great textural element is added with the use of wood beaded trim on the pillows. This cool mix of sky blue with dark brown sea grass is still fresh, even six years after publication. Traditional Home, July 2003.

house beautiful aug 08

This dining scene is just off the kitchen featured in House Beautiful’s Kitchen of the Month from August 2008. Look closely at the two tiered chandelier that hangs from the iron trellis, mixing pots of annuals with candles. The tabletop is zinc. Photographer: Reed Davis

bhg diy mag summer 08

This outdoor pergola is centered on a raised deck, and features a sisal rug and striped curtains which help define the space. I love the mix of crisp blue and green, and the whimsy added by the glass bottle chandelier. BH&G DIY magazine, Summer 2008.

country home june 08

This pink infused porch is pretty as a princess. The pillar candles are centered on a mirror and surrounded by bloom filled apothecary jars. How fabulous are those lanterns and parasols overhead? Can’t you taste that pink lemonade? Country Home, June 2008

home june 06

Simplicity reigns here. The painted yellow benches and red farm table add just the right touch of color to this friendly front porch. The bowl of lemons is perfect, isn’t it? Home magazine, June 2006

sunset june 08

Oh how I love the mix of peacock blue and coral. Sunset, June 2008

trad home july 03

A perfect tented gazebo in crisp white is paired with lime green painted iron furniture and striped Adirondacks. A red beaded chandelier and red piping on the cushions completes the look. This space still looks fresh six years after publication. Traditional Home, July 2003

bhg flea market style 09

This mix of a white farm table and metal bistro chairs is a classic and stylish pairing. Linen table runners, terra cotta planters with topiaries, and pea gravel create a European feel. BH&G Flea Market Style 2009

bhg aug 07

A medley of bistro furniture and wicker surrounded by lush plantings feels comfortable and casual. Better Homes and Gardens, August 2007

trad home march 03

I’ve been crazy about this covered porch ever since I tore it out of a magazine six years ago. Oh, how I love the stone floors, and the mix of an iron daybed, a white metal bench and distressed wood chairs. Together with the lantern fixtures and varied plantings, it all makes me want to move right on in. Traditional Home, March 2003

crescent lane catalog

If I close my eyes, I can feel the ocean breeze as I sit on one of these simple teak stools. Crescent Lane catalog

country living march 09

Oh, how charming is this trestle table, set with a bench and wooden chairs that look like they just came from the house. The collection of lanterns will guarantee an enchanting evening glow. Country Living, March 2009

trad home april 04

When your backdrop is as stunning as this brick, you don’t need much more than these simple white slipcovers and glass hurricanes. Traditional Home, April 2004


I am drawn to the use of blue and white here, in the tablecloth and the medley of vases. Somehow, the large birdcage just works in this setting. Source unknown

I hope you’ve enjoyed these spaces as much as I do.

Do you set an outdoor table in the summertime? If so, what special elements do you add to enhance your alfresco experience?


  1. Simply gorgeous! I love all the photos, each one of them has a classy, chic feel to it.

    I wish I could set an outdoor table, but my balcony space is limited and packed full of plants, Other than that, we have an outdoor setting over at my grandma's house and I simply love spending the evening there.

  2. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures. It's cloudy and rainy here today so this is a cheerful reminder of what summer CAN be like! love them.

  3. Beeeeeautiful! I can't choose a favorite. :) We don't have much of anything outside right now except the kids play stuff. I have been nagging the hubby for several years to build the deck already, so we'll see if it happens this summer. :s

  4. Great ideas!!!!! I do feel the allure of alfresco…and the little tug, but actually prefer to stay indoors so that I don't have to share my wine with those little gnats that seem to be connoisseurs!

    m ^..^

  5. Oh my goodness, I'm in love with all of these pictures, I LOVE summer outside eating! I can't wait for loads of cookouts and grilling! These pictures provide tons of inspiration for our backyard set-up! -e

  6. The porch with the green & yellow benches is my favorite. I wish we could hang out and eat on our back porch without being devoured by mosquitoes. :(

  7. Beautiful! My favorite is the picture with the rose fabric chairs and pink paper lanterns hanging.

  8. Just love that umbrella and latern image. Stunning. (Its why Im having a tiny pergola built on my even tinier deck. I need drama in my outdoors)

    Wonder if you have a suggestion of affordable outdoor chairs?

  9. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    I have to tell you…I saw your post in my reader and I could only see the first picture. The first thought in my head was "if she says that is her backyard, I'm going to have to hate her." I'll still love her. But I'll hate her. ;)


  10. My family and I love eating out of doors, but around here the flies will just about tote you off. I kid you not, lol.

    We ate outside last night and I was so busy swatting and shooing flies it just wasn't enjoyable :o(

    Your lovely photos still make me want to take the little flying varmits on though ;o)

  11. ANy place where there is food/ drink and the prospect of good friends or loved ones filling the seats is enticing!

  12. These are all so great, they make you want to update your own space and host a outdoor party.

  13. Love the pictures….can you tell me where you got those outdoor dining chairs? I love them.

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