It finally happened. I have two friends that now have POOLS! In every other city I’ve ever lived (outside of the one I grew up in), knowing someone with a pool was a fantastical dream that was completely out of reach. I mean if you know someone in NYC that has a private pool please give them my number because I will do what it takes to be their friend. I can provide witty banter and wine (mid self as I do not have a pool). So ya, from the majority of my post-college life it’s been public pools or hotel pools when friends would visit. But now that I’m a. old enough to have friends that own homes and b. live in a city with a little more space so I plan to be floating my summer away.
Now my childhood best friend is throwing a little, all vaxxed housewarming little pool party and was picking my brain for outdoor dinnerware recs because she’s never had a real backyard (and pool) before as an adult. This clearly had me thinking. Soooo many people moved this last year (me included) to spaces with a little more room which a lot of the time included outdoor space which was sometimes the point. Some guidance in the 2021 outdoor tabletop arena might be helpful to you all too!
When I talked it over with the team, there were some opinions since having a second set of dinnerware can be easily wasteful. Emily is happy just using their everyday dishes outside since their kitchen is so close to their deck, Caitlin loves having melamine dishes, which are typically used for outdoors, as her everyday dinnerware, and I fall somewhere in between. I am big on having shatter-free glassware outside because well… I can be clumsy. Plus it’s really unsafe to have broken glass with people and animals running around barefoot. I don’t think anyone would argue with that:) Also, I love love my heavy ceramic dishware inside but really HATE when I have to lug it outside for a little happy hour/snack hang with my friend neighbor. That last one is not that important but sadly not untrue. So when you are shopping assess what your actual needs are and go from there.
Also as a design and product lover, I feel as though it’s my duty to show you the current awesome products on the market to maybe fill in the gaps of your outdoor entertaining setup if you are in need (for furniture head here:)).
But before we get into the roundups, per Caitlin’s request, I’m going to do some EHD old school combos to maybe spark some outdoor tabletop dreams…
Editor’s Note: All of these products and combos are for outdoor spaces big and small. No pool required. Just make it work for you:)
1. Modern Melamine Dinnerware Set | 2. Fluted Acrylic Highball | 3. Woven Straw Food Covers (set of 2) | 4. Incandescent Mini Faux Wicker String Lights | 5. Cotton Plaid Tablecloth | 6. Carrie Portable LED Lamp | 7. Black Metal Tiered Stand | 8. Gold Oval Beverage Tub | 9. Plastic Serving Bowl with Lid | 10. Citronella Ancona Ceramic Candle | 11. Glass Natural Wrap Pitcher
I had to start with a punch of color because well it’s summertime folks! Don’t be afraid to pick some bold moments like this cobalt dinnerware and colorful tablecloth. The trick is to then bring in smaller pieces to complement them in the same color scheme like with the cup, string lights, and bug repellant candle. Then to bring in some softness, texture is always the way to go (and feels very summer-y) so I picked that adorable pitcher and food cover. Notice those also speak to the woven string lights:) Next, to give it a hit of modern and ground the combo together I threw in that portable LED lantern for more mood lighting and the tiered metal stand. Lastly, I wanted to add a little unexpectedness (that’s a word, right?), so that brass beverage tub for endless Spiked Spindrifts and a green bowl because stepping outside of your color palette with one piece is fun in my humble option;)
Let’s go a little softer, eh?
1. Faux Bois Melamine Dinnerware | 2. Melamine and Bamboo Cereal Bowl | 3. Footed Acrylic Glass | 4. Handmade Collapsible Woven Food Tent | 5. Floral Lace Solar Lantern | 6. Cotton Plaid Table Runner | 7. 15oz Large Round Ceramic Citronella Candle | 8. Woven Ice Bucket | 9. Rust Geometric Ceramic Lantern | 10. Marin Chip & Dip | 11. Glass And Acacia Wood Drink Dispenser With Stand
You might not be the super colorful type and that’s totally fine. Our outdoor spaces are meant to make US feel good. So here is my neutral combo and while I’m partial, I really love it. First off, can you believe that the “wood” dinner plate is melamine?? I know I was shocked at first too. I am HIGHLY considering buying a set for when I want to sit on my patio or just don’t want to deal with my heavy ceramic plates. But back to the anatomy of this combo. It’s all about mixing up natural textures. Here we have wood in the plates, the lid of the candle, the chip & dip holder, and the top and back of the beverage dispenser. Then you have ceramics in the candle base, bowl (it’s faux but gives the effect), and solar table lantern. Lastly, you have the soft and woven bits (table runner, blue hanging lantern, and, food cover). It’s all pretty balanced. What I always make sure to do in even the most neutral space is to add a liiitle color. The blues and the green on the glass really help to bring it all to life.
Last but not least, we are going modern monochrome…almost:)
1. Pebble Matte Black Melamine Dinner Plates | 2. Bamboo Melamine Stripes Salad Plate | 3. Plastic Frenchie Jumbo Glass | 4. Round Black Stripe Mesh Food Dome | 5. LED Pendant Light Strand | 6. Linen Tablecloth | 7. Glass Pitcher | 8. Bori Natural Lantern | 9. Stainless Steel Fustis Beverage Dispenser | 10. Citronella Coil | 11. Citronella Coil Holder | 12. Galvanized Metal Beverage Tub | 13. Lanai Serving Tray
If pink isn’t your thing you could easily swap out the table cloth for a more monochrome one. I was obviously inspired by Malcolm’s bedroom with this one because I think it’s just the move to “liven up the party” if you will. This combo is about the metals while adding in little natural textures because you’re literally in nature, they are a must. I love the play on scale with the striped salad plated, ribbed drinking glass, and the food cover. It gives some visual interest without needing colors. Then mixing all of the different metals (string lights, beverage tub, tray, and drink dispenser) helps to let your eye bounce around without it needing to work too hard since they aren’t too different. Now I don’t know about you but I’ve wanted one of those burning citronella coils for a minute and this just might be the year. This one will burn for 36 hours but there are bigger ones that last longer. I would love for the mosquitos and I to live harmoniously in 2021. Fingers crossed? So not only is it useful it also brings in a lighter tone, along with the woven lantern to help contrast all of the dark colors. Modern, chic, but still warm. Always the goal.
Oooook! Hopefully, you are now refreshed on your outdoor entertaining comboing skills. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. You might have a totally different style you want so fear not because it’s time to really get into some product. Buckle your seatbelts because we are going into a 2021 outdoor entertaining deep dive:)
Dinnerware You Won’t Believe Is For Outside
As I said in the intro this one is a little controversial. Hopefully, just like everything else we are all purchasing with thoughts for the long term and not just “o shoot, I new need plates for our BBQ so I’ll just pick something I’m fine with”. We ALL fall into this trap from time to time. But a lot of these options are SO cute and if you are looking, I think you will be very happy:)
1. Beaded Pearl Melamine Dinner Plates | 2. Macaria Desert Plate | 3. Faux Bois Melamine Dinnerware | 4. Teal Bamboo and Melamine Dinnerware | 5. Swirl Enamel Dinner Plates | 6. Pebble Matte Black Melamine Dinner Plates | 7. Sandia Melamine Dinnerware | 8. Melamine Stone Dinnerware | 9. Prairie Melamine Plates | 10. Modern Melamine Dinnerware Set | 11. Pink Melamine Dinner Plate | 12. Stainless Steel Paper Plates & Cups | 13. Bamboo Fiber & Recycled Coffee Ground Plates | 14. 10.5″ Plastic Dinner Plate | 15. Melamine 12-Piece Dinnerware Set | 16. Bamboo Melamine Dinner Bowl | 17. Flared Pop-Tone Melamine Dinnerware Set | 18. Bamboo Melamine Stripes Salad Plate | 19. Gray Bamboo Dinner Plate | 20. Bamboo Melamine Stripes Dessert Bowl & Spoon Set | 21. Melamine and Bamboo Dinner Bowl
If you are like Caitlin (and maybe soon to be me) and are looking for melamine plates for inside and outside I love #1, #3, #6, #7, and #17. Also, #15 is also really doing it for me. But if a bolder look is what you want for your outside summer look then #2, #5, #10 (which comes in a bunch of colors), #14 or #16 are great picks. Just always remember that mixing and matching fun patterns and solids will make for a cool and thoughtful tablescape.
Truly Unbreakable Drinkware
My love for drinkware is not contained to the great indoors. Outdoor cups can be just as beautiful and if put in my hand last… years longer. This brings me to the very exciting news that none of these cups are glass, so your feet will be totally safe if something spills:)
1. Bamboo Cup Set | 2. Fluted Acrylic Double Old Fashioned | 3. Veranda Outdoor Tumblers | 4. Footed Acrylic Glass | 5. Chill Acrylic Double Old Fashioned Glass | 6. Plastic Frenchie Jumbo Glass | 7. Plastic Short Tumbler | 8. Stripe Rim Acrylic Drinking Glass | 9. Plastic Translucent Tumbler | 10. Stacking Acrylic Margarita Glass | 11. Doris Bronze Aluminum Stemless Wine Glass | 12. Emmeline Acrylic Glasses | 13. 7pc Drink Caddy Set | 14. Gold Rimmed Acrylic Whiskey Glass | 15. Liv Acrylic Glass | 16. Ribbon Texture Drinkware | 17. Plastic Translucent Tumbler | 18. Plastic Wine Glasses | 19. Fluted Acrylic Double Highball | 20. Stacking Acrylic Clear Wine Glass | 21. Bamboo Fiber And Recycled Coffee Ground Cups
I think that glassware is really where you can play with texture and shapes. #3 very much reminds me of Emily’s tumblers from her LA house patio reveal that I have lusted for ever since. I am also very here for #4, #7, #15, and #20. But also how can you not love that drink caddy?!
Cute Pitchers and Dispensers
Ok so some of these are glass but I think that when it comes to pitchers and drink dispensers, they using don’t get tossed around too much. I mean if you choose to have your margarita glass pitcher poolside then you are braver than I and pass me a sweet sweet marg:)
1. Sora Acrylic Pitcher | 2. Glass Natural Wrap Pitcher | 3. Acrylic Drink Dispenser | 4. Nadia Striped Glass Pitcher | 5. Drink Dispenser with Stand | 6. Fluted Acrylic Pitcher | 7. Pure Drink Dispenser | 8. Glass Pitcher | 9. Ceramic & Glass Drink Dispenser | 10. Vintage Glass Beverage Dispenser | 11. Igloo Barrel of Fun Retro Portable Beverage Server | 12. Dylan Tall Pitcher | 13. Glass And Acacia Wood Drink Dispenser With Stand | 14. Glass Modern Beverage Dispenser | 15. Stainless Steel Fustis Beverage Dispenser
I have number #14 and it works great. The only thing is that you need to be able to have it near an edge of a surface or find a stand. This is why #5, #7, #9, and #13 are really great options. But the playfulness of #4 and #11 are so fun! I also just love the natural look of #2 and #12. I think you just need to think about how much you plan to use either type and if you have the storage. Thankfully my dispenser fits beautifully in my new place… not so much in my old little studio. Just some food for thought… or ice-cold beverage for thought…
Tables Linens That Pack A Design Punch
1. Azul Striped Handwoven Recycled Table Runner | 2. Cotton Clipped Table Runner Blue | 3. Polyester Printed Tablecover | 4. Roxy Ocean Wave Tablecloth | 5. 4pc Single Border Stripe Napkin Set Teal | 6. Iazid Raffia Table Runner | 7. Woven Seagrass Placemats with Holder – Set of 6 | 8. Navy Chambray Umbrella Table Runner | 9. Oversized Texture Rib Stripe Table Runner Black/Sour Cream | 10. 4pc Stitched Border Thin Stripes Napkin Set Red/White | 11. Water Hyacinth Charger Placemat | 12. Lightweight Summer Placemats (Set of 4) | 13. Posie Gingham Table Runner |14. Linen Tablecloth | 15. Cotton Plaid Tablecloth Pink | 16. Cotton Plaid Table Runner Cream | 17. Cotton Woven Tablecloth Blue/White | 18. Woven Bamboo Placemats, Set of 4
NO Bugs Allowed With These Covers
These are definitely not a necessity but boy would they be nice to have. Especially with the good on the serving dishes. LA isn’t a particularly bug-filled place aside from mosquitos (we’ll get to the citronella candles) but there are plenty of areas that are. Hope these help if you do:
1. Mesh + Bamboo Food Covers (set of 3) | 2. Mesh & Wood Food Dome | 3. Rectangular Natural Chevron Mesh Food Dome | 4. Woven Straw Food Covers (set of 2) | 5. Round Black Stripe Mesh Food Dome | 6. Steel Food Dome | 7. Outdoor Net Food Cover | 8. Food Tent | 9. Handmade Collapsible Woven Food Tent
I am very into #1 and #4 because I’m a suck for natural woven pieces. But #7 is SO cool. Sure is it a fancier napkin? But likely more sanitary. Also, #8 and #9 are totally collapsable which is great for storage. Do you people with bug problems are these a must? Let me know.
Beverage Tubs To Keep Things Cool
I am an ice person because I like my drinks COLD. And step one of having the ultimate cold drink experience is having them cold in the first place. This all means that if your outdoor space is not super close to your fridge you NEED a beverage tub to keep those drinks cool. Ok no, you don’t need it but it will make your and your guest’s beverage time much more enjoyable I promise.
1. Gold Oval Beverage Tub | 2. Recycled Bamboo Wine Bucket | 3. Woven Ice Bucket | 4. Bash Copper Beverage Tub | 5. Galvanized Beverage Tub with Black Stand | 6. Spangle Metal Beverage Tub | 7. Galvanized Metal Beverage Tub | 8. Galvanized Iron + Woven Rattan Beverage Tub | 9. Round White Galvanized Metal Party Tub
Again, I like them all but #3 is pretty great because not only is it pretty and woven, but it’s tired with that little extra storage shelf on the bottom. Speaking of woven, #8 is a beaut too! But if your outdoor decor is in need of a hint of glam to brighten it up you can’t go wrong with #1 and #4.
Ready for some mood lighting??
Outdoor Mood Lighting
Emily will be the first to tell you the importance of outdoor lighting and I will be the second. It can make or break the mood, people! We’ve all been in those backyards where the only light source is a crazy bright overhead light that makes it impossible to create a relaxed mood… or at least that’s how it feels to me. So let’s avoid/fix that issue, ya?
1. Blue Tie Dye Fabric Orb Solar String Lights | 2. 10ct Elongated Tube LED Outdoor String Lights | 3. Carrie Portable LED Lamp | 4. Rust Geometric Ceramic Lantern | 5. Floral Lace Lantern | 6. Incandescent Mini Faux Wicker String Lights | 7. LED Cage String Lights | 8. Bori Natural Lantern | 9. Mosaic Petal Lantern | 10. LED Pendant Light Strand | 11. Commercial LED Light Strand | 12. String Lights Bronze Hood | 13. Sun Squad Lantern | 14. Incandescent Faux Wicker Globe String Lights Brown | 15. Revere Steel Lantern
Let’s first talk string lights. These are (IMHO) the biggest asset you can bring into your outdoor space and there are seriously SO MANY options. If you like modern, go with #2, #7, or #11. Or are you more boho? Then #1, #6 or, #14 is all you. And for those in-between then you absolutely can’t go wrong with #10 or #12. Hang those puppies up and you will have instant ambiance. But adding in another light source (aside from candles…don’t worry we are almost there), we love a lantern. #3 has been on my list for a couple of years and I think despite its sleek lines it’s super versatile. However, #5 and #9 also have been on the ole Pinterest board for AWHILE. Truthfully they are all slam dunks so you can’t go wrong.
Seriously NO BUGS With These Candles and Incense
Last but absolutely not least are these BEAUTIFUL bug repellant candles. I am a mosquito magnet so these are an essential part of my outdoor setup. Maaaybe this is also a housewarming gift for my friend?? Plus with all of these super cute options, why not create ambiance AND get those darn bugs out of your life (or most of them out of your life).
1. Gold Cement 5 Wick Citronella Candle |2. Citronella Coil + Citronella Coil Holder | 3. Citronella Ancona Ceramic Candle | 4. Decorative Ceramic Citronella Candle | 5. Blue Frosted Glass 5 Wick Citronella Candle | 6. 12pk Citronella Tea Light Candles | 7. 15oz Large Round Ceramic Citronella Candle | 8. 2pk Pillar Candle Citronella | 9. Citronella Cement Candle | 10. Citronella Wood Candle | 11. Not Citronella – Real Insect Repellent Candle | 12. Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks | 13. Citronella Lava Candle | 14. Centoa Citronella Centerpiece Candle | 15. Long Ceramic Citronella Candle
So you have candle or and incense options. I’ve never tried the incense but it seems like they would be very effective. And if they are also pretty…HI! If you want to try like me, #2 and #12 are my picks. Now, these candles are pretty beautiful. I mean look at #5, #7, #10, and #14?! But if you already have nice holders then going with #6 or #8 is great.
Well, that’s it for today. You made it! I hope that you too either can find a friend with a pool or get one yourself (blowup ones count!). We all deserve some luxury and relaxation this summer. So let’s talk products, what you like to use, what kind of space you are designing for. See you in the comments. xx
Love you, mean it.
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Melissa Oholendt | From: A Foolproof Way to Create an Outdoor Room with Target