Seven ways to set the summer table
It is finally time to take advantage of the warmer weather and take dining outside
If don’t have a tablecloth big enough to fit the table then improvise by layering several small cloths to cover the surface.
Best in Class 1
There are lots of ways to entertain in style outside but one of the most attractive is an impromptu set-up, for when the weather gifts you a warm day and, on the spur of the moment, you decide to invite some friends or family around. Take the indoor furniture outside to accommodate them. Pick a sheltered spot surrounded by hedges to keep chills at bay and if don’t have a tablecloth big enough to fit the table then improvise, as the stylists here have done for this House of Fraser shoot, layering several small cloths, to cover the surface. Then you set the table using Biba Sarie dinnerware, from €10 a piece, line up a selection of candlesticks, pictured are several from the Hot Tropics range by Linea that includes terranniums, from €41, pineapple-shaped holders, from €34, palm tree sticks, €41, and cane lanterns, from €41. Embroidered Maui cushions, from €33 each, and throws, €64, will amp up the comfort levels.
Best in Class 2
There’s nothing like a flea market find to add drama to a space and this elaborate rococo candelabra is something that you might be lucky enough to pick up at a market in France or Italy on your summer holidays. The decision to use candles above dispenses with the need for an electrician to wire the pendant but you will need to set it up somewhere sheltered so that a summer breeze doesn’t blow the candles out. In contrast to the theatrical light overhead is the very cool, concrete Hudson dining table, €1,990, from Neptune, that can be used both indoors and out. Set around it are these wicker weave Harrington chairs, €340 each, from Neptune stockists.
Best in Class 3
Create a party atmosphere that has a distinctly south of the border feel by stealing style influences from Talking Tables fiesta collection. Inspired by Mexican style queen, artist Frieda Kahlo, it includes cool, printed paper plates, with a large side floral design, €4.50 per 12-pack, and a medium-size llama motif, €3.50 per 12-pack, that also appears on paper cups, €3.50 per dozen. There is a larger cup inspired by the artist, €5.50 per 12. A small piñata takes centre stage on this table, €15, and there is a selection of pompom garlands and chandeliers, all about €17.50. The range also includes dip-dyed, disposable birch cutlery, €6.50 for six settings.
Best in Class 4
Fabric house Jim Thompson’s No 9 delivers outdoor fabrics that look as good as anything you might choose for your interior. This season’s range includes this rose-coloured Palm Plain washable polypropylene, €81 per metre, the same style of washable fabric is also pictured in Lalla, a daisy yellow, €112 per metre. On the table is Fez, a north African-inspired baby blue print that has been turned into a very smart tablecloth that will help set a very beguiling breakfast atmosphere – the cloth will also help cover up an outdoor table that has been badly weathered. It costs €165 per metre. Two metres plus lining will cost €100 to make up, in addition to the cost of the fabric, which is available to order from Kevin Kelly Interiors.
Best in Class 5
Dunelm stocks some really smart and affordable tableware but doesn’t deliver to the Republic of Ireland so if you’re planning a special meal for family or friends you can call the Belfast store and ask them to put any of these on hold for you, for up to 24 hours. Pictured is the Calypso 12-piece dining set, featuring a soup bowl, side and dinner plate for four settings, about €36.50, and these jungle boogie side plates featuring an elephant, monkey, zebra and leopard, €11.50 each, with matching motifs also on mugs, €2.85 each. The 16-piece gold cutlery set, about €36.50 will give your party prep additional pep. Call 048 9066 7250. The chain also has shops in Derry and Newtownabbey. You can also reserve online.
Best in Class 6
Dining al fresco doesn’t have to be a big, dressy affair. It can be a simple repast, a morning coffee taken outdoors where you can hang out for a while, not on the usual bistro set but on a swing, hung from a tree or a patio, where you can tune into the birdsong and sweet smells of freshly mown grass and early summer blooms. This beautifully simple swing is painted in Sandtex 10-year exterior satin finish, €12 for 750ml, a durable finish that will bring tired wood to life. The colours pictured are Gentle Blue, Cloudy Day and Fern Canopy and are available from Crown Paints on Dublin’s Malahide Road.
Best in Class 7
For a smart outdoor lunch break picnic this gingham bearskin-shaped rug will bring a little hunting lodge cool to your local park. Kids of all ages will adore the design, which has an embroidered face. You might even see it drooling as you snack on sandwiches, sausage rolls and other fast food favourites. The rug is waterproof-backed to prevent damp creeping in, folds into itself to form a small portable pouch and costs €35, ex delivery, from UK-based Suck.