Outdoors or in, entertaining is on our minds, and with the trend for carrying the furniture right out the French doors, you don’t have to compromise if you choose your pieces with an eye to lifting, shifting, and dealing with potentially uneven ground.
Top of the Tables
Airy mid-century lines in blonde wood with kicked-out legs and slender aprons (the section skirting the top and legs) are holding our attention this season.
For value and looks, Argos are serving up a winner with their Afina dining table and six chairs in solid wood just reduced to €528.99.
The chairs bought alone are a nice dash of scoop-backed Scandi-chic if you’re on a budget, at €147.99.
Staying with vintage inspiration, what about pruning out that forest of legs to the table and chairs described by the iconic designers Eero Saarinen as ‘a confusing, unrestful world’ (Time, 1956).
CA Design have some quality knock-offs of his award-winning Pedestals tables, here in aluminium and marble, perfect for the 1970s lounge lizard luxury appearing across the glossies, and in pure white, as luminous by day as by night.
Team with Verner Panton-inspired chairs in fibreglass at €250 each.
If you prefer the new gentled industrial that’s going around, the Foundation six-seater dining table cradled on branches of solid soaped finished oak from Harvey Norman is a bit of a steal at €1,199.
Despite its monumental style (clean, calming and not likely to date) it has a rather clever foam core inside that honed, authentic concrete top — ideal if you want to move your eating spot seasonally.
I would eschew the matching but truly unremarkable Foundation dining chairs which bring this otherwise fantastic table rudely down to earth.
For a bit of traditional-meets-charming madness in an investment dining chair, the Wycombe Windsor teams a fluted fat leg with a crafted Windsor body in glorious mindy ash, €520 each.
Part of the consistently fascinating collection at Interiosity, Patricks Woollen Mills, Douglas, www.interiosity.ie
There is a heady buzz regarding a new relationship between the house and garden — this time not through faking indoor furniture lines in rain-sloughing polyethylene, but through the design of pieces intended for both the dining room and the patio.
Given the vagaries of the Irish weather, this inside-out fashion will fit year after year.
The materials and weather resistance of the dining furniture must be suited to at least light rain and wind to stand the course, and the look and feel should be elegant and acceptable to sit politely indoors after a quick wipe down.
Start your flirt with taking indoor pieces out through the conservatory or French doors, staging your dining set near an exit to hard standing.
To anchor your arrangement, Dash & Albert (Annie Selke) offer indoor/outdoor rugs from €45-€78 in new graphic patterns inspired by the Samode Palace in India, dashandalberteurope.com.
We love the Sofia dining chairs, shaken out of a Wegner Wishbone, at Meadows & Byrne. €498 for six in powdered aluminium and rattan.
Bo Concept’s highly urbane Adelaide range runs right through shell style dining chairs (€249-€299) to sleek dining tables with high pressure laminate (from €1,449).
If you’re too sniffy to endure plastic rattan, steel or polypropylene under your roof, standard furniture can be brought outside on truly bright, arid days — but ensure you can move it easily and safely.
Sectional tables that can be shoved together for larger gatherings but hurried out of the hail are ideal.
Keep in mind the UV resistance of any fabrics under direct sunshine.
Want a big, fat velvet chesterfield in the garden or elegantly upholstered dining chairs that titter at our low-pressure isobars?
Look up the intriguing pieces of Coco Wolf UK that dry in an hour after even a Hibernian deluge.
Slip the centre panel from the St Mawes coffee table to reveal a deep well, ideal for chilling beer, wine and fizzy drinks.
A tough all-rounder in weathered, reclaimed teak, €799.50, www.housology.com
The first thing to establish before buying a table or chairs is what space you have to play with.
Going across the table, it’s easy to rack up 1.6m of floor space without difficulty even setting the table modestly into a corner position.
A metre of room from the table’s edge to the wall or any storage unit behind is ideal for each sitter, and allows for traffic to pass behind them.
80cm is about right, just to pull the chair away and rise.
Benches can pull this number a little closer to the table by dispensing with the swoop of a chair-back, but keep in mind that most adults don’t relish vaulting into position for a formal gathering.
You could try offsetting the position of the table and adding a rounded edge to avoid thigh bruises for close passes.
Table length is something of a moveable feast, but 90cm across a table top (diameter in a round table) allows for a decent place setting and psychological room to breathe.
However, pulled this close, long-legged adult sitters will be playing footsie.
If you like setting your dishes centrally, or use centre-pieces and candles regularly, bring this up to 110cm-120cm.
Any wider and eye contact and hearing in a chattering room will become difficult.
If you are dealing with a shifting group size and want to move the table outside from time to time, choose a simple rectangular sectional over an extender and highly stable chairs that can take rough ground.
Round and oval tables pitch people towards each other. In terms of height, standard table heights run from 71cm to 76cm.
Sit at your prospective table to see how the position of the legs, the pedestal and any apron (running under the top) interferes with comfort. 15cm is really the least amount of acceptable room from chair seat to apron.
Mixing up tables and chairs, it’s crucial to ensure chair seat height and the underside of the table top agrees without any leg clashes. Allow around 60cm per place setting.
Three romantic spring table themes for indoors or out
Recalling clear skies, sappy new shoots and the scent of quatrefoil primroses, these accents, set on a largely white ground with clear or coloured glass, is fresh as a May morning and lovely for a lunchtime table.
For an extra, deeper colour, try measured hints of amethyst in the arrangement. Keep the look softly rustic with butter soft cotton napkins and a cheque table cloth.
In tableware, Irish pottery wears this look with casual ease.
An arrangement of dewy, nodding, meadow-like blossoms mixed up with simple green cuttings or a sculptural budding branch make for an unfussy centrepiece.
: Take a selection of your favourite vintage print plates and set them afloat over crisp, plain, white flatware which will marry them up as a grouping.
Add antique-inspired cutlery or a harlequin set of the real thing in a silver plate.
Gold style pieces are everywhere this season too (16 pieces, €47 at Next Direct; Paul Costello Living €80, Dunnes Stores). Stick with white linens if possible or invest in the gorgeous new appliqué styles from Jenny Slattery.
My choice would be her Silver Service in grey. €78 for 4 napkins. Use a nostalgic conversation piece or two such as a beautiful old teapot to stage flowers down the table.
: Pantone’s colour of the year 2016, Rose Quartz is a soft shade of pink with a silver undertone taken from the mica in rough semi-precious gemstones, that looks fabulous nestled with white or grey on a contemporary or classic table.
Show your feminine side with an afternoon tea table of pale grey and rose, led by real blossoms as open and shaggy as you can find them (buy the flowers early and let them shake open over a couple of days).
Add a pretty corps de ballet to the main arrangement with smaller posies of angel’s breath and a few buds in a short French cafe glasses (IKEA Pokal, €3.50 for 6).
Warm up jaded wooden seating outside with soft flat velvet cushions in candy colours.
Materialsmust be suited to at least light rain and wind