We recently took an in-depth look at why you should buy a garden bistro set and in that post, we focussed on the key decision-making criteria such as material, size and style.
In this article, we want to follow it with a focus on the latter but take a closer look at one of the best attributes of a garden bistro table and chairs and that’s their ability to create an intimate area in your garden for food, drinks and general R&R.
What is a bistro set?
A bistro set is best defined as a small, traditionally round, 2-seater outdoor table.
Designed for a small garden, balconies or patio area, our range of bistros are carefully crafted to make the most of a tight space but still pack in plenty of versatility and functionality.
The Interior Design School define a garden bistro set as:
“A bistro table is a small, round table about 40″ in height, designed for smaller gardens and intimate dining. It is common for people to also refer to bistro tables as pub tables. They originated in Parisian cafes in the early 1800s. These cafes were typically small, with limited seating, so they needed smaller tables that would maximize space. The term “bistro” comes from the French word “Bistrot”, meaning “fast” or “quick”. This reflects the cafe culture of Paris, where people will stop in for a quick bite or drink before moving on with their day.”
It is interesting that they also use the word intimate in their definition, as it is the perfect adjective. It best illustrates how a garden bistro table is a piece of furniture that allows you to get “closely acquainted”.
The true definition of intimate in this scenario then is “being close”. And just like a small room can be called intimate or cosy, the same is true with a garden bistro.
Our 2-seater range features a variety of tabletop sizes from 50 cm to 90 cm wide/diameter, so that closeness and intimacy are guaranteed, however, what they lack in size they more than make up in functionality and versatility.
Traditionally, a standard dinner plate has a diameter of 25 cm, so even our smaller tables can be used for an outdoor meal for two.
Not only are the compact dimensions perfect for those with limited space or for a smaller outdoor area such as a balcony or small raised decked area for example, but they are also a great solution for those looking to pair with larger sets to create different zones by function in their garden.
If, for example, you have a larger dining-style set or sofa set on your patio, then pairing it with a coordinating bistro is a great way to create a cosy area when the need is just for a table for two.
In this article, we want to look at how you can achieve just that…
Look a little closer at how we think you can take a garden bistro table and chairs and create the perfect intimate outdoor space.
Plus, the team have come up with some of our favourite styling tips and tricks to add even more cosiness, comfort and style.
How to choose the right garden bistro table and chairs
How do you pick the best garden bistro table and chairs from our collection for your outdoor space?
We offer a range of different sizes of tables and chairs in a variety of styles and finishes.
The bulk of our collection is best described as classically styled, and by that we mean we take a modern material and craft timeless pieces that won’t go out of style.
At Lazy Susan we like the traditional but with a modern twist. We think a bistro table should feature a round top, ornate recessed legs, a decorative finish and be constructed from a metal that is designed to stand up to the worst of the not-so-great British weather.
It’s a simple formula but one that will give you the classic look in a form and function that is fit for our gardens and climate.
The basic questions you need to ask or steps you need to follow before you add one to your shopping cart are:
1. What is your budget?
Bistro tables can range in price from £100 to £500, so it's important to set a budget before you start shopping so that you don't overspend.
Once you've considered all of these factors, you'll be able to choose the right bistro table for your garden.
2. What size bistro table?
The starting point to picking the right one is to find the right size for your outdoor space.
You don't want it to be too big or too small. So measure carefully and work with the dimensions shown for each set in our shop to see which will fit best.
You will need space for the bistro table, 2 x bistro chairs and enough room around them when in situ to safely and comfortably walk around them, sit down, etc.
It is also important to consider the height of the bistro table. The IDS suggested that they are often about 40 inches, which is just over 1 meter, but we would argue that’s a little too high.
You want it to be comfortable for people to sit at and eat. All our tables are around the 67 - 74 cm high mark and that ensures that our chairs will fit perfectly and function at a comfortable and ergonomic height.
3. What shape bistro table?
The shape of your bistro table is also an important consideration.
Round tables are, in our opinion, the logical choice for small gardens, as they can be easily placed in tight spaces and, they work with 2 chairs to deliver that classic cafe bistro-look.
Square and rectangular tables are a good choice for larger gardens but they generally look better with 4 or more chairs helping to create that all-important balance.
If you wanted to create more of a low coffee table-style setting, then our advice would be to pair one of our compact side tables with a garden bench or 2 x garden chairs as shown in the customer photo above.
4. What type of bistro table?
When we talk about the type of bistro, in this instance we’re referring specifically to the material it is constructed from rather than the function.
Our bistro range (with the exception of our Alessia foldable sets) is made from high-grade cast aluminium. We chose that material specifically for its suitability to the UK climate and we like to spend time in our gardens.
If you’re planning to shop around, focus your search on materials that are durable and weather-resistant. You want your bistro set to last for many years to come with minimum maintenance.
Wood sets are a popular choice, but they will require regular staining or painting to protect each piece from the elements.
Metal tables are more durable, and specifically cast aluminium, is a great choice if you want a good all-rounder that is perfectly suited to all 4 seasons in one day.
5. What style of bistro table?
We’ve said this a lot lately in many of our recent blog articles but style is subjective. We like what we like and that is generally reflected in our homes.
If you’re unsure, start by looking at the style of your home and garden when choosing a bistro set. You want it to complement the overall look of your space and not look out of place.
If you have a more rustic look in your garden, then a classic wooden bistro table could be a good choice. If you have a more modern or formal style home, then a metal bistro table might be a better option.
There are no rules, you pick what think will look best, and what will fit with how you like to spend time in your outdoor space.
6. Which bistro chairs do you want?
At Lazy Susan, all our bistro sets will come supplied with a pre-selected or standard chair.
However, we also offer the option to upgrade.
So, for example, if you were looking at our Ella set (above, you could upgrade the chair to our wider Kate style (as shown below).
You want your guests to be able to relax and enjoy their time in your outdoor space, so make sure your bistro chairs are comfortable by also adding our Cushions
Make sure the table and chairs you buy are sturdy and can support the weight of the people and things you'll be putting on them.
Our furniture comes supplied with screw-in protective feet which prevents chipping on the metal but is also adjustable for even surfaces (as shown above).
7. How much maintenance are you prepared to do?
We touched on this above in the type of bistro set section but it is a buying factor we think many fail to consider.
By choosing a table that is easy to clean and maintain you get a bistro set that is ready to use with minimal effort to keep it looking good.
Unfortunately, we aren’t blessed with year-round sunshine in the UK, so you need a bistro that’s weather-resistant and can stand up to wind, rain, snow, sun.
Maintenance is time-consuming and by investing in a bistro set that is weather-resistant, you will save money in the long run as you won't have to spend as much time and money on cleaning, staining, and sealing.
How to make your bistro table cosy and intimate
At Lazy Susan we think a garden bistro table and chairs are best used as a small serving table. And by that we mean they’re perfect for smaller meals, like breakfast, brunch, lunch or nibbles.
That said, you could enjoy an evening meal for 2 on many of the tables in our collection, especially those in the range with a 60 - 90 cm tabletop such as our Ella (shown below), Anna and Mia sets, for example.
However, the key, we think, is that whatever you use them for, you make them feel as cosy and intimate as possible. Bring a little romance to your patio and make it a space to spend quality time with friends.
To achieve that, the table is the starting point, however, our team have some fab tips (illustrated with more photos from our customers) to take that small table and chairs, make it more inviting, and create the perfect spot for all of the above:
1. Pick the right spot
Just like the title of the well-known primetime property programme, it is all about location, location, location. Pick a cosy corner or a secluded area in your garden or patio as this will help to provide privacy and make the space feel more cosy and intimate.
2. Define the bistro area
Combine different patio materials such as porcelain tiles with a small timber deck area to define your bistro zone. Alternatively, use an outdoor rug under your bistro to define and add instant comfort and style. Further accessorise with planting, a structure such as a pergola or screening to create a separate bistro area dedicated to relaxation and intimate conversation.
3. Set the mood with stylish lighting
Install soft, ambient lighting to bring the cosy and intimate when the sun sets. Our go-to solutions are festoon-style string lights, solar-powered tabletop lanterns, or a small fire pit or chiminea to create a warm and inviting space on a summer's eve.
4. Make it more comfortable with cushions
Add extra comfort with our seat pad or high back cushions or throw outdoor blankets over your two chairs (as the customer has done above) to make it feel inviting and extra cosy.
5. Add some privacy
As well as being a good solution for defining your bistro area or zone, screening with a pergola, awning, fencing, trellis or tall planting is a great way to add privacy and enhance the feeling of seclusion and intimacy.
6. Add garden bistro accessories and decor
Decorate your bistro with table decor. Add a vase with fresh flowers or a small table centrepiece to make it more inviting.
7. Blur the lines between the green garden and hardscaped patio area
Enhance the atmosphere with natural elements like potted plants, hanging baskets, or even a small water. These elements can help bring your outdoor space together and create a relaxing atmosphere that is perfect for intimate conversation.
8. Add some shade with a parasol
Incorporate a parasol or a pergola to provide shade, and protection from the sun to further enhance that sense of enclosure. It will make the space more comfortable and pleasant to spend time with a friend or family member, especially during those, albeit rare at the moment, hot summer days.
Don’t forget to personalise the space and pop your own stamp with garden furniture accessories and planting. The little details are what will make it feel unique, up the intimacy and make it the perfect spot for morning coffee, afternoon tea or an evening glass of wine.
If you have any photos of your Garden Bistro Table & Chairs, then we’d love to see a few photos for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or upload them via our Photo Upload Form.