Al fresco dining ideas with London interior designer Emma Green

Style & Decor blogger, Sarah, recently approached us to work with her on a recent al fresco dining shoot with leading London interior designer Emma Green. Here, we reveal some of the unique tablescapes for blissful breakfasts, lounging lunches and cheese and wine parties. which sarah showcased on her blog. These feature a carefully curated collection of our luxury tablecloths, napkins and throws, which take centre stage on the dining table in her garden. So, grab yourself a glass of something chilled and enjoy Sarah's write-up:

There’s definitely something to be said for embracing the great outdoors. This is precisely why I enjoy transforming my patio for outdoor dining, so I can entertain guests, each summer, in absolute style. I'm fortunate to already have an open-plan kitchen with a dining area, which harnesses views of our garden. However, you just can't beat al fresco dining when the weather's fine. So, I decided to enlist the help of a renowned interior designer in London - Emma Green - this season. This way, she could help me achieve more unforgettable moments in my garden, which I can truly cherish, for all manner of occasions.

London interior designer Emma (left) joins Style & Decor blogger Sarah on her patio

London interior designer Emma (left) joins Style & decor blogger Sarah (right) on her patio

Creating the perfect setting

My view is that the tablecloth should play a pivotal role in terms of setting the scene and dressing a table for luxury al fresco dining. In fact, I prefer my table linen (and bedding) to meet the standards you would expect from a luxury hotel. So, this is why I got in touch with The Fine Cotton Company - a prominent brand which is not only renowned for their luxurious home textiles but also for supplying some of the UK's leading boutique hotels. They have a comprehensive portfolio, which includes an array of bedding, towels, bath robes, blankets, throws and table linen.

The Fine Cotton Company's Mikado collection instantly gets my approval. It's crafted from a blend of 50% polyester and 50% natural organic cotton - the cotton is cruelty-free and no chemical are used in the production process; both of which align well with my buying values. This collection boasts a texture, which is restaurant-quality, and you can choose from various tablecloth and napkin colour options. What's more, it's exquisitely crafted and it's machine-washable so it's remarkably easy to clean. The Mikado collection also takes pride of place in several leading boutique hotels in the UK.

Mikado tablecloth from The Fine Cotton Company

The Mikado tablecloth and napkin collections from The Fine Cotton Company feature a luxurious cotton blend for restaurant-quality table linen in your home and garden. Comprising of 50% cotton and 50% polyester, you can choose from multiple tablecloth sizes, which comes with a 2cm hem. The silver napkins (with a 2cm mitred hem) measure 50sq cm so they are ample for protecting your clothes when dining with friends

Choosing the right tablecloth

London's leading interior designer Emma offers some valuable advice if you're looking for the perfect tablecloth;"I firmly believe cotton or cotton-blend tablecloths are ideal for maintaining timeless appeal. They should be your preferred choice if you're looking for a design, which will effortlessly infuse al fresco dining with sophistication, and stand the test of time. If white isn't your tablecloth preference, you can consider another colour for you to add your own personal touch. Otherwise, pick a crisp white tablecloth and introduce coloured napkins which will add depth to your al fresco dining tablescape."

Al fresco dining for breakfast delights

Mikado tablecloth and grey napkins from The Fine Cotton Company

This gorgeous breakfast setting was designed by interior designer Emma for me to entertain overnight guests in my garden the following day

For wonderfully relaxed summer mornings, Emma has carefully curated a palette inspired by nature. This look is instantly characterise by relaxed, neutral tones. With a coastal-inspired theme, this tablescape evokes a tranquil garden at a seaside retreat. Hints of coral complement the calming colour scheme, and Emma explains: "Many of us prefer a slow start to the day without the need for bold, bright colour. Thus is why I've handcrafted a custom tablescape, which encourages a leisurely start to the day. So, you can benefit from a serene, neutral environment, which will set you up for the day."

Emma handpicked my elegant Mikado cotton-blend tablecloth with grey napkins from The Fine Cotton Company for a harmonious blend of style and function. I sourced a set of four napkin rings from Zara online. these metallic holders bring a touch of opulence to the table with their striking gold finish. Emma adds: "I opted for thee pearlescent napkin rings as they complement the grey napkins beautifully. This look has enabled me to produce a more understated aesthetic."

Interior designer Emma has used her expertise as a colour specialist on this table with table linen by The Fine Cotton Company

Interior designer Emma has used her expertise as a colour specialist on this table for slow summer mornings

 Luxury lunchtime inspiration

Lunchtime al fresco dining featuring the Mikado collection from The Fine Cotton Company

The Fine Cotton Company's Mikado tablecloth contrasts with Dusky Pink napkins from the same collection and bursts of colour from the accessories on this lunchtime al fresco tablescape

There are ways to add an extra layer of charm to a table, particularly when al fresco dining with friends. But why would you want to make the effort Emma explains: "My clients are discerning, so showing their impeccable taste via meticulous attention to detail on a tablescape is paramount. Wherever your table is located (indoors or outside), this can provide the perfect time to create extraordinary moments for you and your guests. Therefore, visitors can unwind and connect, irrespective of the dining event. "

Infuse patterns & combine colours

The Fine Cotton Company's table linen in lunchtime al fresco dining tablescape

Interior designer Emmas has mixed and matched a variety of different styles and colour-ways to come up with this striking lunch table setting

Emma demonstrates that bold can be beautiful and take centre stage, when you're creating an al fresco dining scene. A colourful arrangement could be perfectly suited to leisurely lunches for family and friends. Emma elaborates: "I'm a fan of mixing colours and styles, which is evident in my lunchtime tablescape. Stripes are a prominent trend this summer - in particular the Cabana stripe. This displays a minimalistic, yet bold, pattern, which is available in a host of colours. Fashion designers, including names like Paul Smith and Clements Riberio, favour this design. For those who may feel adventurous, try juxtaposing complementary shades, such as red and pink. This will instantly rejuvenate your design with striking bursts of colour."

She continues: "This al fresco dining tablescape exudes La Dolce Vita vibes. You can imagine how vivid colours, like these, can infuse your garden with a sense of joy, frm cherry reds to golden hues. Embracing vibrant colours can be a clever design strategy - the bolder, the better in my opinion. This can provide a great way to elevate your look on even the greyest summer day."

Cheese, wine & al fresco dining delights

Madson throw in Dusky Pink on table by The Fine Cotton Company

Sometimes, choosing cover alternatives, such as a throw, can add texture to a bespoke tablescape design as demonstrated here

Making sure my dining table is suitable covered is a top priority for me, where food is concerned, for stylish summer gatherings. This is why you should carefully consider which tablecloth, or alternative cover, to use and the effect this will bring to your table. I love a sense of simplicity from my tablecloth as this needs to provide a perfect backdrop for the other elements. However, I do think textured accents have a place on my table, too. Therefore when Emma suggested using one of The Fine Cotton Company's textured throws, I enthusiastically embraced the idea.

Versatility rules in design

The Madison throw instantly sets the scene for sophisticated al fresco dining in this tablescape design for a cheese & wine party

The Madison throw instantly sets the scene for sophisticated al fresco dining in this tablescape design for a cheese & wine party

My Madison throw has proven its worth all over my home and I've already given it a place outdoors. This throw is a double/king size version in a gorgeous Dusky Pink, one of my favourite colours. So, this makes it ideal for cooler months on my king-size bed in my master bedroom.Its made from soft cotton with a matelasse pattern, and offers me an additional layer of comfort and style. Now, as the evenings are getting chillier, this throw can also transform into the perfect wrap when al fresco dining with friends.

I've also snuggled up under this throw while lounging on the sofa in our open-plan kitchen. This area features extensive glazing, so it can feel rather cool in here, from time to time. Not only do I adore its colour but `i also love the textured finish. This makes the throw feel so tactile and it's made from 100% cotton with a stitched-edge design. It's machine-washable too and mine measures a roomy 210 x 250cm, although smaller versions are available, such as 180 x 250cm. And, of course, it makes an absolutely stunning tablecloth, too!

Subtle colour contrasts create an elegant scene for a cheese and wine al fresco dining party

Subtle colour contrasts create an elegant scene for a cheese and wine al fresco dining party

Following my photoshoot, I discovered there is a Dusky Pink Mikado tablecloth which is available from The Fine Cotton Company. Naturally, I couldn't resist buying one in the sale. It's half price so I'd hurry while stocks last! UK hotels and restaurants are among the buyers of this top-quality, cotton-blend table linen. So, this is testament to their superb craftsmanship and ultra-durability.

Setting the scene for al fresco dining

In order to elevate this summer soiree, Emma has introduced a palette of soft, understated pastel hues, which add an air of refinement to this tablescape. My Madison textured matelasse throw takes centre stage. Emma explains: "Don't hesitate to play with various textiles on your dining table. It's a great way to embrace your creativity and enjoy every minute. In this instance, Sarah's blush-toned textured throw creates a fantastic tablecloth/ It's light-weight and brings the perfect balance of intrigue and contrast.

Al fresco dining tips

Emma Green leading London interior designer in Style & decor blogger Sarah's garden

Interior designer Emma loves handcrafting spaces, inside and out, for memorable experiences

Emma concludes: "More expansive and seclude spaces lend themselves well to larger meals with friends and family. It's a great way to preserve tranquility for your neighbours and you can relax and unwind properly. Don't forget to prepare for al fresco dining events in plenty of time and don't let stress overwhelm you. Ultimately, guests truly value a host, who is relaxed and enjoys themselves as much as their visitors."

Now you know what to buy for your dining table, have you considered how to get a great night's sleep with the perfect pillow? Read our blog here to find out more.