We’ve been focussing on our bistro sets recently and for good reason. They’re a best-seller and have a fascinating etymology, history, and versatility.
We recently discussed what we think are the main reasons for their popularity in the UK in our Why buy a garden bistro set? article, and we touched on the way they provide a combination of versatility, functionality and style.
If you have limited outdoor space such as a balcony or small city garden or you want to combine a number of different types of outdoor furniture on a larger patio, then a metal bistro set is the perfect solution.
They have a compact footprint and metal is light enough to pick up and move if you want to reposition in the sun or store in the winter but still substantial enough to not blow over if the wind picks up a little.
Designed for intimate dining or socialising, they are the perfect small table set for sharing drinks or a meal for two. The small size of the round tabletops helps to create a friendly, cosy and inviting atmosphere that encourages conversation flow but there’s still plenty of space for your food and drinks.
What are garden bistro sets?
At Lazy Susan, we would define a bistro set as a small, typically round, 2-seater outdoor table set designed for casual dining and general relaxation.
Bistros are often associated with cafes come restaurants from which they derive their name, particularly in Paris, where they are commonly used for outside dining on a narrow pavement.
Today they make for a popular way of creating an intimate outdoor dining or relaxation area, especially in smaller spaces such as a city garden, off-patio terrace or balcony.
Leading retailer, Ikea define a bistro set as follows:
“To us, a "bistro set" is a small set of two chairs and a small table for the garden, balcony or terrace. To you, we're certain it can be a great spot for enjoying a coffee, fika or light meal together.”
A Fika [pronounced fee-kuh] roughly translates from Ikea’s native Swedish to English as to "have coffee" or “a coffee break”, but it's about so much more than that.
In Sweden, a Fika is when you sit with your family or friends, and take the time to catch up and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, often with a slice of cake.
And for us, morning coffee is one of the best ways to enjoy our bistro sets!
What are the key features and functionality of our bistro range?
The main functionality or features of our range of bistro sets include:
They are designed and constructed to fit and function in smaller outdoor spaces, such as balconies, small patios, terraces, or backyard-style city gardens. Their compact size makes them ideal for intimate dining or cosy relaxing.
Two Garden Chairs
Our range of bistro sets come with two chairs in our trademark simple and classical style. However, many of the large-sized bistro tables in our range can also be used as a compact 3 or 4-seater set, depending on what you need. Our range is fully coordinated so mixing and matching to create your perfect set is easy.
The tabletop on our bistro sets is round and between 50 and 90 cm in diameter. Although other retailers may offer square and rectangular options, we stuck to the classic formula. A round table encourages conversation and interaction, is more efficient in small spaces, takes up less floor space, is easier to sit down at and get up from and best helps to promote a more relaxed and less formal atmosphere.
Weather Resistant & Durable
Our sturdy bistro sets are designed to withstand outdoor conditions and are perfectly suited to the UK climate. They are constructed from a high-grade cast aluminium that is both weather-resistant and simple to maintain. We further protect the metal with a painted finish that not only gives the furniture a unique style but is also durable and will not need to be reapplied if looked after.
Our range of outdoor tables (from the bistros up to 10+ seater sets) feature recessed legs. This not only gives our bistro tables a more streamlined and modern look, but it also takes up less space under the tabletop, which in turn provides more legroom. Our table legs are also carefully designed to help distribute the weight of the table more evenly, making it more stable.
All our bistro tables and chairs come supplied with screw-in plastic feet pads that provide adjustability for uneven patio surfaces, help to prevent the metal from being chipped or scratched on a rough surface and reduce the need for maintenance (i.e. touching up paint chips and scratches. This is important for outdoor furniture that is located in public areas.
Our bistros are shipped in a Ready-To-Assemble (RTA) format, which basically means we supply our tables with the legs off the top and chairs with seats and backrests separated from the legs. Assembly is simply a case of nut and bolt and a bistro set will generally take around 15 to 20 mins to build. We supply our bistros as RTA as it makes them easier and safer to transport, more cost-effective to ship, and more durable as the individual pieces are made to withstand shipping and handling, and they can then be easily disassembled and reassembled if you want to store in winter or if you move house.
What is the style of our bistro collection?
Our range of outdoor bistros is often chosen by our customers for their timeless aesthetic. They are sets in styles that have endured and not a here today gone tomorrow fad
A popular choice for both large and small outdoor spaces, whilst we don’t have a single defined style, we typically offer furniture that falls into the category of classic or traditional that we combine with modern materials and contemporary features.
Here are some characteristics often associated with the style of our garden bistro furniture:
Our bistros feature our trademark timeless design style that is perfectly suited to the styling in UK homes and gardens. These designs include intricate patterns, latticework ornate detailing, and curved lines that are reminiscent of traditional wrought iron pieces.
Our signature material for our bistro collection is a high-grade sand cast aluminium that is both durable and can be moulded into intricate shapes. This allows us to create elegant and decorative bistro sets that are designed for all-year-round outside use.
Elegant Painted Finish
Our furniture is available in a range of finishes, including antique bronze, white, and slate grey. These finishes contribute to the classic and refined appearance of our sets but they also further protect the metal from Mother Nature.
Comfortable Seating for 2
While our focus is on style, we never forget function. All our table sets come supplied with two coordinating chairs or as part of our “create your perfect set” section you can choose to upgrade or add a host of accessories to further enhance the overall outdoor dining and relaxation experience.
Cast aluminium is a durable material that can withstand outdoor conditions, making our furniture a long-lasting choice for outdoor settings. Combined with classical styling our sets can sit on your patio all year round and for many years to come without ever looking out of fashion.
We have incorporated some beautiful and functional round tabletop designs into our bistro sets, which feature our signature latticework and soft chamfered edges to make them both practical to use and comfortable to sit at.
While the style tends to be classic, our bistro sets will complement various outdoor settings, whether you have a traditional garden, a modern patio, or a contemporary deck, we utilise classic designs that will complement your outdoor space and how you like to use it.
Different Table Sizes
We offer a range of table sizes from 50 cm to 90cm, so you can find the perfect set, no matter how small your outdoor space is. To find out which set will fit and function best, please see the “How do you buy the right size bistro set?” section in our How to choose the right garden bistro set article where we’ve detailed how to measure up and listed all our floor space requirements and furniture dimensions.
What are the advantages of a metal bistro?
The main advantages of buying a metal bistro over materials such as wood, rattan or resin are:
Metal is a very durable material that can withstand the changeable and often wet weather conditions we see in the UK and is designed for heavy outdoor use.
Metal furniture is super easy to care for. You can simply wipe our range down with a soft cloth and warm soapy water and this removes general dirt and debris. We also recommend that you apply a light coat of carnauba-style car wax to give the paint a nice lustre, keep it cleaner for longer and help rain water run off the surface.
We’ve touched on versatility above but we’ve found that our bistro sets can be used in a wide variety of settings, from patios and balconies to decks and gardens. They can also be easily moved around and they provide enough tabletop space to do all the things a larger outdoor table can do just for 2 people.
Due to their smaller size and fewer seats, a metal bistro set is also a more affordable option for those on a budget. Plus, with their versatility, durability and weather resistance, what could appear more expensive than other materials at first, will require significantly less maintenance and last longer, therefore saving you money in the long run as it won’t need replacing as quickly.
Our bistro sets are lightweight and easy to move, making them versatile for various outdoor settings. Our Alessia set is not part of our cast aluminium range and is constructed from stainless steel, but this super compact set is foldable for even more convenient storage when not in use.
Overall, a metal garden bistro set is a durable, low-maintenance, and versatile option for outdoor furniture. It is a good choice for people who are looking for a stylish and comfortable seating option that can withstand the elements.
Of course, those who sell other materials will be quick to say that there are some negatives. No material is perfect. You have to weigh up the pros and cons.
We chose to sell cast aluminium because we felt that the pros outweighed the cons, and it is a great all-rounder that is best suited to both the UK climate and outdoor dining and bistro tables.
When it comes to metal the two big question marks it has is rust and heat resistance.
The big advantage cast aluminium has over other metals such as iron and steel is that it will not rust and our painted finish further protects it from oxidising.
It is also the metal with the lowest heat transfer, so whilst it will get hot to the touch in direct summer sun, it is less so than other metals. We can further mitigate these issues with our fitted cushions and a coordinating parasol to provide comfort and shade.
Things to consider when choosing a metal bistro set
If you’re looking at buying a new bistro set, or any type of garden furniture set for that matter, and you’re unsure of which metal to buy, consider the following:
Type of metal
The most common types of metal used for bistro sets in the UK are aluminium, steel, and iron. Aluminium is the lightest and most rust-resistant. Steel is the strongest but designs are limited and tend to be more minimal. Iron is the more traditional choice, and whilst beautiful, it requires regular maintenance to prevent rust.
Just like the quality of the raw metal is important, so too is any finish applied. This will not only affect the appearance but also the longevity, durability and general weather-resistance. We apply a durable powder-coated finish to our cast aluminium as this will not require re-applying and is the most durable and resistant to fading and chipping.
The size and weight
Also, consider the size and weight of the bistro set to make sure it is appropriate for your outdoor space. Smaller and lighter sets are easier to move around, but they may not be as comfortable to sit at for longer periods of time.
Metal bistro sets can range in price from just under £100 to £500+. The price will heavily depend on the quality of the materials, the size and design of the set, and the retailer. Don’t forget that if the price is low, will it require additional cost to maintain, and is it designed to sit outside?
If you want to see and feel the quality and finish of our cast aluminium, please order a free Metal Sample Kit.
Shop garden bistro sets at Lazy Susan
Shop our full Metal Garden Bistro Collection for Summer 2023.
If you have any photos of your Lazy Susan Metal Bistro Set, then we’d love to see a few for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or Upload them