Fall is one of our favorite seasons for alfresco entertaining. If you haven’t begun to spruce up your outdoor dining space, now is the time. Whether you have a small patch of hardscape or a sprawling poolside patio, there’s plenty you can do to infuse style and functionality into your outdoor dining “room.” Here are our top 7 ideas to take your dining area from average to amazing.

#7 Savvy Storage

Every outdoor living space needs effective storage, but especially one that doubles up as a dining space or outdoor kitchen. If your kitchen and dining area doesn’t include built-in cabinets and drawers, add some storage yourself. All of your utensils and table linens can be kept clean and tidy in an outdoor rated kitchen trolley or weather-proof boxes.

#6 Mood Music

Music makes any dinner party better, so why not have it on when dining outdoors, too? You can, of course, simply have sound coming from the indoors, but for convenience’s sake (changing a song quickly or controlling volume), invest in an outdoor audio system.

#5 Creature Comforts

Making outdoor dining as comfortable as its indoor equivalent is all about investing in extra details, especially where it comes to soft furnishings. Plush seat padding is a must, but to take your open-air dining to a whole new level, lay an outdoor rug underneath your dining set.

#4 Luxe Linens

One of the pleasures of indoor dining is crisp and fresh table linen – so why not have the same level of detail outside? For a rustic cozy, look select natural, luxurious fabrics such as cotton and linen. Natural finishes and colors won’t fade as obviously as bright colors.

#3 Cooking Kitchens

Transporting heavy dishes between the inside and outside may be a challenge (especially if you are cooking for a large group). So, why not have a little kitchen dedicated to al fresco cooking right where you will be having dinner? Outdoor kitchens can be as simple as a grill or as elaborate and functional as it’s indoor counterpart.

#2 Convenient Cover

Outdoor dining means being at the mercy of changeable weather, from the strong sun to an unexpected shower. To keep everyone comfortably cool–or protected from rain–consider a covered structure.

#1 Lighten Up

Mood lighting a must-have for every outdoor dining space. With outdoor lighting, your outdoor dining area can become another room you can enjoy at night. Lights attached to posts, around your deck or patio, will illuminate the area for sunset dining and late night conversations.

It wouldn’t be a complete outdoor living space without bringing the dining room outside, too. Outdoor dining spaces these days are so detailed that they look like they belong indoors. And our design team can help you cook up the perfect plan to bring your outdoor kitchen to fruition. Learn more about our design process here, and find more inspiration in our outdoor kitchen design gallery.