How to Set an Eco-Friendly Outdoor Table for the Warmer Days Ahead by Laurence Carr, Interior Design



As those of us in the Northern Hemisphere begin to experience longer and warmer days, we are drawn to our backyards, our decks, our terraces, and our balconies. Whether we live in the heart of a big city or deep in the countryside, our human instinct is to celebrate spring by being out in it. Leaning back in an Adirondack chair at the end of the day and turning our faces toward the lingering light brings an instant sense of calm, security, and wellbeing. 

Adding our family to the warming spring mix—for an afternoon picnic or an evening meal in our outdoor living space—adds meaning to our days. While the number of people allowed to gather may be limited in the weeks and months to come, nothing can take away the sense of togetherness a beautifully thought out table brings to those seated around it. Nothing says “we are in this together” more than the host who chooses products that reflect responsible stewardship of the planet.




OUTDOOR FURNITURE Outdoor furniture and accessories must be weather, mold, rust, and fade resistant. How lucky we are that multiple outdoor furniture designers and manufacturers have looked to nature itself for inspiration. Rattan, bamboo, and eucalyptus make not only visually pleasing and texturally interesting tables and chairs, all three materials are natural, durable, and sustainable. 

Lloyd Flanders and Greenington meet the Forest Stewardship Council’s standards for sourcing only from responsibly managed, wildlife-friendly forests. Upcycled plastic waste, also known as polyethylene HDPE, looks elegant and refined, but is tough enough to withstand the blazing summer sun and tropical downpours. 

Of course repurposing furniture has never been easier—you can’t go wrong with a French Maison Gatti Rattan Bamboo Banquet Bench from Chairish. A double hanging rattan chair is the perfect place to relax after a light spring meal, and a seagrass rug beneath your feet from Serena and Lily turns your outdoor space into a truly inviting and comfortable nest. 




TABLEWARE AND GLASSWARE

Celebrate fresh air and the sunrise or sunset around a table that is filled with objects that are in harmony with your values and aesthetics. Flora and fauna-inspired dishes may create a more polished outdoor dining experience, while artisanal place settings beg lively colorful conversation. Whatever your mood and whoever is on your (limited) guest list, you can rest assured that now more than ever, retailers are rising to meet consumer demand for functional, beautiful, environmentally friendly products. Amara’s Batwa Decorative Vase, made of mango wood, adds an instant touch of earthiness and art to the center of any table.  Berry infused martinis never tasted more refreshing than when they are shaken, stirred, and poured from a recycled stainless steel tumbler. Wine aerators not only allow wine to breathe, but sitting on a rolling bar, they play with the summer light and make a sculptural statement in themselves. Mixing and matching sets of vintage-inspired gem-colored tumblers adds a touch of nostalgia.




LINENS AND ACCESSORIES Paper napkins came into fashion in the 1950s and will soon once again be a thing of the past. Why waste natural resources when Broste Copenhagen makes napkins and table linens as pretty as these and as purposefully eco-friendly? Their certified EkoTex Gracie napkins in pure white linen feel fresh and are simply stunning.  

Pull a romantic dining experience together with a tablecloth that catches the breeze and floats in the light. Maximize views—of each other—with a low centerpiece of natural beeswax candles. A string of solar powered lights sparkling overhead or a single flower mindfully placed in one of Ferm Living’s statement vases adds softness and glamour. 




DINING BY DESIGN AND WITH INTENTION

Outdoor dining is a visceral experience and is not limited to spring and summer. Readers in the Southern Hemisphere can enjoy the fresh fall and winter air by heating things up with a lamp or a chiminea.  It is more important than ever that we balance our time spent indoors with our time spent outdoors. Eating well includes eating in tune with the season and eating happily. A table that is set al fresco offers a simple and accessible change of scene, ambiance, and flavor.

Each element we select contributes to a complete sensory experience. From the scents that waft from the kitchen through the open patio door and to our outdoor dining space, to sitting at our place at the table, we breathe in what nourishes us and we find comfort. Our eyes delight in the thoughtfully arranged table before us, and in one another’s faces. While dining, we do more than fill our bellies, we fill our hearts and minds with conversation and toasts to continued good health and togetherness. 



Laurence Carr is founder & CEO of Laurence Carr Design, an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events.

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