• Kim Chilton Griffith

Designing to Dine Al Fresco At Home

According to Dictionary.com…

al fres·co [ al-fres-koh ] is an adverb that means out-of-doors; in the open air.


According to Kim Chilton Griffith…

al fres·co [ al-fres-koh ] is an adverb that means styling your outdoor space.

Summer is upon us, and although this year is different than any other with “shelter in place orders”, I want to remind you to take advantage of your outdoor space. With restaurants limiting service and some not open at all, consider creating your own space to dine al fresco, right in your own backyard. Whether a novice decorator, a professional DIYer, or simply one that’s ready to create a cool, chic space, turning your pad into your own dining patio is a must-do this season.


Before you begin, think about your design style. Are you going for a boho-chic vibe or more of a sleek, sophisticated situation? This will determine your color palette, where to shop, and how to accessorize.


Whether a small deck or big backyard, your table for two for cozy evenings, or one that seats ten, dining outdoors or simply enjoying a cocktail chill session, there are few things you should consider when setting the outdoor mood!


For the small space…

Have you ever thought about adding a movable cart or rolling bar to your outdoor space? Roll it out in the morning for juice, coffee and breakfast, or roll it out in the evening for cocktails and dessert. When not using it to serve beverages and bites, it’s a beautiful piece to look at, especially if you design with your own flair. It can become the centerpiece for your outdoor small soiree or themed event as you decorate with flowers, candles, glassware, decanters or whatever is meaningful to you in that moment.


For the larger space…

There’s room for family, friends, and even colleagues as you host brunch, dinner, or meetings at your outdoor dining table. A nice break from virtual meetings, is your yard large enough to host something in-person? Find a table and chair set that allows you to extend for multiple diners when the need arises. Find a set with a bench, which allows for more seating, and can easily be moved and used for other purposes.



For your pretty table décor…

Paper plates and red cups simply won’t do…melamine and acrylic will be your best bet. You’ll want something that is shatter-resistant, durable, easy to clean and stylish. Yes, disposable is easier, but easier doesn’t mean it’s best. Disposable plates, cups and flatware won’t help create the look and feel for the aesthetic you seek, but acrylic and melamine will.



For your lighting…

I can’t stress enough the importance of lighting. Natural sunlight is all you need in the daytime, but in the evening, you’ll need something different; something special. Candles, candles and more candles…in my opinion - you can never have enough! From votives on the table to hurricanes and lanterns on the ground. And of course, a few citronellas should be added, to keep the bugs away.


Candles are a necessary element to alter or create a mood, and yes, you need them inside and outside during your al fresco dining experience. Opt for battery-operated, flickering flameless styles to go inside because from the outside looking in, they are a beautiful way to complement what you’ve created outdoors.


Use multiple string lights to hang in rows above your guests’ heads to create a starry night, or use them on your garage, fence, trees and shrubbery to help envelope everyone into your evening’s theme.


Now that you have your decor down, there’s only two things left to decide…

what are you wearing and what are you sipping!


For the Wear…

Add some flair to your affair with soft, flowy, fabulous fashion. Kaftans are my go-to…they’re both fashionable and comfortable, especially in hot weather. Some retail stores and boutiques are not yet open, but finding a flowing fashionable fit that fits your style (and your figure) shouldn't be hard to find online.


For the Sip…

When the weather's warm, a chilled wine is a perfect complement to your al fresco affair. Some wonderful choices include: Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé.

Chill them in advance and present them in a beautiful decanter...or keep your bottle on ice. One of my white wine fav's right now is Pierre Cherrier & Fils 2018 Domaine de la Rossignole Sancerre L'Essential. Sancerre is often considered, 'the ultimate Sauvignon Blanc' and I like this one due to its intense fruitiness. If you're luck enough to find it, it'll run you around $30 a bottle.




All that’s left now is turning on some tunes…Cheers to dining amongst the stars!


Copyright © 2020 KIM CHILTON GRIFFITH and CHILTON GRIFFITH STYLE. All Rights Reserved.

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