Custom outdoor dining table settings

Finally summer has arrive here at the Surf Coast!  Us locals (well speaking for myself at least) have put up with living somewhere that is cold, windy, rainy and just generally unpleasant for most of the year all for those couple of months of bliss when the sun shines, the air smells salty and long balmy evenings are spent down the beach.  At our house, the coming of the sun also means that out comes the Weber and its time for entertaining outdoors.  We love to throw spur of the moment BBQ's and invite what seems like the whole neighborhood.  With a horde of small children and accompanying adults, having an outdoor table setting with flexible bench seating to squish in those couple of extras in here and there is a blessing.


As with every part of you home, it makes such a difference to have an outdoor setting that in customised to your style, space and functional requirements. There are many different aspects to consider when purchasing or designing your outdoor dining table and seating. 



 Firstly, are you limited by space?  You need to have at least 800mm between the table and any walls, fences or vegetation to ensure easy passage and pulling chairs in and out. You also need to work out how many people you want to be seated.  As a rule, 500-600mm needs to be allowed for each person but there are other influencing factors such as type of seating and design.  For more detailed information on how to work out what size table you need, refer to this blog post



Rectangular, square or circular tables all have quite a different feel, look and function.  In an outdoor setting, I am quite partial to a square table as it allows for whole table conversation and works well if you are wanting to have a combination of bench seats and backed seats. 



Conventional bench seats, backed benches or normal seats all need to be considered.  Each has its pro's and con's.  Conventional bench seats create clean lines, can be tucked under the table when not in use and are great for squeezing in lots of people. The down side is that they can be uncomfortable without a back if sitting for a long period.  Individual cushions or a custom made long cushion can help to make the seats more comfortable.   The backed bench seat solves the comfort issue but on the down side cannot be neatly tucked under the table and require all people to maneuver out of the way if the sitter in the middle needs to get out.  The good old chair is great for comfort and ease of exiting but has no flexibility.  I personally love a square table with 2 sides with bench seating and the other 2 with chairs so you and your guests can choose their preferences and the kids can happily all squash together.  



Chunky or Scandinavian inspired, timber legs, metal legs, concrete top, rustic, refined, recycled or new... there are many things to consider in the design.  Do you want the style of your interior and exterior to flow together or do you want to create an outdoor room that has an aesthetic all of its own?  The one design aspect that must be included in all outdoor pieces is the gaps between the planks of timber on the top that enables the water to drain to prevent pooling and damage to the timber. 



The space in which the setting is going to live can also influence the design.  Modern house design often has an alfresco area that is protected from the weather and direct sunlight which enables for more flexibility in the design and the timbers available for use. 



There are quite a number of options for timber that is rated for outdoor use.  These are the hard wearing timbers that are used to build such things such as bridges, piers, fences and power poles and luckily in Australia we have quite a number of natives that fit the bill and are therefore also available reclaimed! 


Red toned outdoor rated timbers


Red Gum

Red Iron 


Brown outdoor rated timbers

Coastal Blackbutt - brown / messmate like 

Yellow Stringly Bark - honey brown

Silvertop ash - honey with flecks of black

Turpentine - brown with a waxy feel

Grey Iron Bark - grey / brown



There are 3 different options for outdoor finishes that we use. Osmo UV protector comes in a clear, a dark honey Oak tone and a red brown Ceder. The tinted finishes last a lot longer between reapplications as they protect the timber more against the harmful UV rays that drys out and bleaches the wood.  To find out more about the natural oil and wax finish that we use, check out this blog post


During the design process, we work with you to consider all of these factors to ensure we get everything just right! Contact us for more information. 


Alison Collins is the Co-Owner of Bombora Custom Furniture and in charge of all things other than making furniture!