Get your kitchen ready for al fresco dining this summer

Organise your kitchen cabinets this summer with help from DIY Homefit

It’s been a long wet winter and spring, and we’re all hoping for some lovely sunny days this summer. And if you have a garden, one of the best things about those lazy hazy days of summer is the opportunity to eat outside, al fresco.

So now is a good time to think about what you can do in advance to make the al fresco process much easier to organise. In terms of home decor trends, there’s been a lot of talk recently about bringing the outside in. But in this article we look at five ways to bring the inside out!

Create your al fresco eating area

If you intend to do a lot of al fresco dining, then it is worth investing time and effort in creating an eating area that you love. Just because this is outside doesn’t mean it should be any less stylish than the inside of your home.

Carefully consider the location. You ideally want somewhere that attracts the sun but also does not get too hot and sticky during the daytime. And it’s a good idea to be able to cover your area – for example with an awning or gazebo – to provide shade on very sunny days or shelter on damp ones.

Some people prefer their eating area close to the house. This provides both easy access, and also helps to create a seamless flow from inside to outside. The alternative is to pick a scenic spot elsewhere in the garden, perhaps in a more secluded area for a more intimate dining experience.

Also consider adding some practical and aesthetic accessories to your outdoor dining area. For example, outdoor lanterns or fairy lights, wall mirrors to reflect light and enhance the space, and a chiminea or fire pit for warmth and light.

If you’re entertaining, it’s a good idea to set up a drinks station so that your guests can help themselves without either having to ask you or go back into the house to forage. A table with glasses, bottles, and a large bucket or plastic box of ice for chilled drinks will fit the bill.

Set up a practical outdoor food preparation area

One of the keys to successful al fresco dining is to have practical outdoor food preparation and holding areas, particularly if you are doing a BBQ as part of the meal. Otherwise you will be forever heading back to the kitchen to fetch food items and everything becomes much more hassle.

If your BBQ is central to the process, make sure it has plenty of working space and that all the BBQ tools are ready to hand. Ideally you also need two clear surface spaces either side of it. One for food waiting to be cooked and the other for food that has been cooked and is ready to be served. 

A good option for these outdoor work surfaces is stainless steel, which is resilient and also easy to clean. 

So it may be worth looking around for a stainless steel work table, ideally with shelving to house essential items such as BBQ tools, other utensils, chopping boards and serving plates.

Your outdoor food preparation area also needs a sturdy rubbish bin. This will save trekking in and out of the house and speed up the clearing up time afterwards. The rubbish bin should be covered to deter garden pests. 

It’s also a good idea to have a large container for dirty dishes. This enables a quick tidy up at various stages of the meal, without everything having to be carried inside bit by bit.

Install outdoor storage space

As well as the outdoor work surfaces we’ve just mentioned, it can be useful to have some kind of permanent outdoor storage space for all the items you are more likely to use outside than in. For example:

  • BBQ tools;
  • Other cooking utensils;
  • Foil;
  • Kitchen roll;
  • Outdoor crockery and cutlery;
  • Non-perishable condiments;
  • Logs, coal, firelighters;
  • Spare gas bottle;
  • BBQ cleaning products.

There is a huge range of garden storage cabinets available which should enable you to find a size and style that fits in your garden. Or another option is to consider upcycling one of your old kitchen cabinets. We love the example below from Instagrammer Belle Rogers (@designermumetc) who upcycled leftover materials and unused furniture to create a stylish outdoor kitchen on a shoestring budget.

(Image credit: Annabelle Rogers (@designermumetc))

Organise your kitchen cabinets

Another option for al fresco dining is to treat your outdoor eating area as an extension of your home. For example, if you use a patio just outside your kitchen or patio door, you can think of it as another room in your home. This is particularly useful if you are a bit short on outdoor space, and need to keep most stuff inside.

If this is the case, you can focus on how to make a seamless transition between your inside kitchen and al fresco eating area. And one thing that can really help with this is to reorganise your kitchen cabinets to make it as easy as possible to move everything you need outside. 

It’s a good idea to designate one of your kitchen cabinets to hold all the stuff you regularly need for al fresco dining. For example:

  • Unbreakable glasses;
  • Sturdy plates;
  • Outdoor cutlery;
  • Large serving spoons;
  • Salad bowl;
  • Napkins;
  • Condiments tray;
  • Crisps and snacks;
  • Candles / tealights.

If you have everything you need in one of your kitchen cabinets it takes the thought process out of al fresco dining – you can just simply empty that cabinet and take the contents outside. And we’ve even thought of an easy way to do just that . . . .

Invest in an outdoor trolley

Think of all the time and effort you waste during a typical al fresco meal. There is most probably lots of running in and out of the house bringing things back and forth. But, as we’ve seen, if you designate one of your kitchen cabinets to contain everything you need, you are already halfway there. 

The next step is to invest in a sturdy outdoor trolley which you can use to wheel everything out from the kitchen to the garden. Look for one with a combination of shelves and baskets, so that you can load it up with everything you will need once you’re outside.

You can buy an outdoor trolley fairly cheaply. Just make sure that it has all the storage capacity you need and also that it is durable and suitable for outdoor use. Think of it as a kitchen island for your garden!

We hope that the above ideas will help you and your family to enjoy some great al fresco dining this summer, and to make the experience much easier for everyone.

For more home and lifestyle inspiration visit us again soon here at DIY Homefit.