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Bringing the Indoors Out: How to Set your Lakeside Dining Scene this Fall

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Autumnal al-fresco dining by the lake illuminated by string lights and candles
Photo courtesy of Victoria Magazine.

It’s no secret that Fall is here. The trees surrounding the lake are now covered in golden brown leaves, and you’re finally feeling that crisp Autumn air. With the onset of colder weather, you may be tempted to bring your lake house guests inside. However, just because summer is over doesn’t mean it’s time to stop hosting outdoor dinner parties. In fact, the Autumn atmosphere invites several ideas for a perfect al-fresco dining scene.

Whether it’s displaying pumpkins as centerpieces on your dining table or lighting the match on your outdoor fire pit, there are plenty of ways to set up your outdoor space for success this Fall. Especially if you’re looking forward to hosting outdoors, we have some tips on how to best decorate your space for the season.

Manageable Materials

Photo courtesy of Home is Where the Boat is.

When it comes to al-fresco dining, finding durable materials is important. Unlike interior pieces, your porch furniture is subject to nature’s unpredictability. As such, we recommend investing in high-quality fabrics. Anne Mueller, co-owner of Briar Design, advises: “The biggest thing to do is to make it as easy as possible by using high tech performance fabrics. There are so many boutique mills that produce interesting textures and patterns. It elevates al fresco dining from just regular patio furniture.”

A rising trend now is using these robust fabrics with bold colors and patterns on metal furniture. Aside from fabrics, durable materials are also important to consider for countertops. Designer Lori Moscato, president of Casual Elegance Designs, recommends bluestone or Dekton countertops to reflect the heat. “Not only does it hold up against the natural elements, but it also evokes a stylish, industrial feel,” she says.  

Light up the Night

Boho style al-fresco dining during autumn
Photo courtesy of Reddit.

Since you’ll want to continue using your lakeside dining space at night, it’s helpful to have a variety of lighting strategies. Currently, LED lights are popular for several reasons. They can automatically detect when it’s dusk or dawn, and they sit low in the landscaping itself which is both functional and contributes to the ambiance. In addition to this low lighting, including lights at a variety of heights can add a holistic feel. Moscato adds, “depending on the tree variation, you could put lights higher in trees. These differing levels create a lot of interest in the yard.” String lights are also a classic way to include different levels of light, or electric candles on the table that emit soft light.

Mueller also recommends adding solar lights in the ground beneath the trees, so that when the light shines up, the leaves are illuminated. “It’s an inexpensive way to make your property look very high end,” she says. And of course, Fall is also a great time to light the fire pit. Try arranging low-seating around the pit for late-night fireside chats. 

Less is More

Simple fall table setting lakeside dining
Photo courtesy of Pamela Saumure.

When the backdrop of your outdoor dinner party is a beautiful lake surrounded by Fall foliage, there’s no need for lavish, flowery decor. Instead, we recommend choosing designs that complement the natural atmosphere and allow the lake itself to steal the show. “What we’re seeing now is a modern rustic,” Moscato comments. “There’s a mixture of a farmhouse and industrial feel, characterized by easy, clean lines and low maintenance.” At the end of the day, the lake is your focal point, and it’s best to avoid overly patterned or theme-based designs.

Lake dining on blankets during sunset
Photo courtesy of FoodStories.

Over the past several years, outdoor lakeside dining spaces have risen in popularity. Homeowners are extending their living areas to include the outdoors, and they’re choosing covered decks rather than screened-in porches. This trend allows for more connection with nature and a getaway feel, which is especially amplified against a lake backdrop. “If you own an amazing waterfront view, then you might as well maximize it by creating an outdoor dining space,” Moscato adds.

So this Fall, don’t hesitate to turn on the fire pit and bring a basket of pashminas and blankets for your guests. The new season is here, and it’s time to enjoy dining alongside the great outdoors. 

For more autumnal lake activities, find more things to do here.


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