Image by Courage & Dash
There’s something wonderful about alfresco dining in the summer that makes you feel like you’re on holiday when you’ve never left home. I always associate it with having friends around for some good food, maybe a glass of wine or two, great conversation and definitely a few laughs.
Image by Thomas Gonsard
It’s not as constrained as a formal dinner party and that lovely casual feel often means your friends enjoy themselves more because they’re more relaxed. Of course it’s helpful if the sun’s shining as that always makes people smile, but I’ve had some great ‘alfresco’ dining moments when we’ve had to rush indoors to escape a summer ‘shower’ (for shower read downpour – ah the great British summer)…
Now I was lucky when I styled the first image because someone had left behind that fabulous piece of wood in my garden when I moved into my home. But the rest of the photos demonstrate how you can still achieve the right feel even with a standard wooden dining table. You may not have a garden, or the weather might have changed – but you can recreate the alfresco feel indoors too.
The key thing about styling your alfresco dining table is to retain a casual feel. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be beautiful. It’s just a lot simpler. The bottle (used as a vase) is a small port bottle that came with a Christmas hamper, but even a jam jar with a ribbon tied around it would do. Wildflowers or even dandelions (as I’ve used in the image at the top) are perfect to retain that impulsive feel.
A rustic basket for that just-baked loaf of bread and fresh fruit sets off elements of your table with a touch of colour and a warm friendly feel. You may have a wooden board to lay out some antipasti or use a wooden salad bowl. Natural materials are what you’re looking for where possible. Keep it slightly random – no need for perfect symmetry here!
Because you’re eating outdoors it doesn’t mean you have to eat from paper plates. Suitcase Susie’s Koru tableware is fine bone china, but perfect for this setting. The wave pattern makes you feel like your at the beach (maybe you are!) and just knowing it was inspired by New Zealand whisks you off to another part of the world, even if it’s only in your dreams. Notice I’ve set out lemon slices for everyone’s gin and tonics…
I’ve tied the pretty napkin with some suede thong I had at home – no need for fancy napkin rings. You could use some coloured ribbon or raffia twine – the kind that’s popular for gift-wrapping these days. Just a simple knot gives it all the detail it needs.
So I hope you enjoy lots of lovely days in the sun this summer, but even if the skies are grey, you can still recreate the alfresco experience under cover and pretend you’re by the sea in New Zealand – at least you won’t have the 24-hour flight to endure!
Thank you Suitcase Susie!
All of Suitcase Susie’s designs are screen printed in small runs and hand-decorated onto fine bone china in Staffordshire, while her screen-printed textiles are made from 100% cotton also in small quantities in Lincolnshire.
Visit Suicase Susie at http://www.suitcasesusie.com.
Images by Suitcase Susie unless otherwise credited.