Sitting down in a picturesque café for a quiet cup of coffee is one of the best things in life, and all the more so when you have a great outdoor seating area to enjoy. The right outdoor café seating can turn a takeaway coffee spot into a go-to destination.
Are you a café owner looking for some outdoor seating inspiration? Ready to transform a drab outdoor space into an al fresco delight? In this article, we’ll share some of the best outdoor café seating ideas to bring your vision to life.
Spacing your tables and chairs
First things first; you’ll need to sort out the spacing of your tables and café chairs. As you design your outdoor seating area, you’ll want to make use of the space you have without making it too crowded.
Different factors such as local regulations in your town or city, or whether your outside area is street-facing, will affect how you can use your outdoor space. But here are some general guidelines on how to space out your tables and chairs:
- As a rule of thumb, make room for a minimum 900mm of space for your staff service ‘corridors’ and allow 1300mm between each table edge.
- Why 900mm? Your customers and serving staff need as much room as possible to get around. If your café takes orders at the till, you’ll need to make more room, as more people will be moving about.
- When spacing out your tables, factor in a chair allowance of 450mm, a further gap of 400mm and another 450mm chair allowance for the person at the next table.
- Altogether, there should be at least 1300mm of space between the edges of your tables. This amount of space should give your customers enough room to get in and out of their seats without too much hassle.
- If you have chairs backed up against a wall, allow 200mm of clearance from the wall to the chairs.
Decorative elements to include
Whether you’re aiming for Parisienne chic or something modern, it’s important to get your café design touches right. A great outdoor seating area is more than just tables and chairs; you’ll need decorative elements too.
Here are some decorative touches that can make a real difference to your outdoor space:
Lanterns, hanging lights, table lamps and even candles can add a touch of warmth to your outdoor seating area. The right lighting can create a relaxed, homely, and inviting mood.
If you’re lucky enough to have lots of space, consider how garden landscaping could give your seating area the wow factor. Hanging baskets, potted trees, and strategically placed pot plants can give your café a natural feel and create a soothing environment.
In our sunny part of the world, your customers will need some shade. If your trees, plants, or decking area don’t provide enough protection, consider kitting out your area with garden umbrellas.
Maintaining your outdoor café furniture
Looks aren’t everything, and as a business owner, you’ll also want furniture that can stand the test of time and weather the elements.
Sustainable parts are crucial to your design considerations. As well as looking and feeling good, your chairs will need to be made of the very best lightweight, durable materials.
Hardwood tables need to be well looked after. Regularly clean and maintain your tables with a damp cloth and mild soapy solution. Opt for a durable wood like teak or cedar.
UV and weather-resistant materials such as stainless steel, aluminium, glass and wicker fibres are also good choices for outdoor tables, and can see off rain and frost.
Choose high-quality chairs that will last. Many café chairs are made from tough thermoplastics such as polypropylene. This easy-care material is simple to look after; just give it the occasional wipe using mild soapy water.
Also consider the fabrics on your chairs. Materials with colour stabilisers will be more resistant to colour fading from the weather and frequent customer use.
Unfortunately, it’s not always sunny enough for your customers to sit outdoors so you’ll also need to think about storage and stackability. Store any cushions or pads when they’re not in use to reduce the risk of weather damage, and fold sun umbrellas when they’re not needed.
Our café chairs
As you ponder outdoor café seating ideas for your business, here are some of our best chairs for al fresco hospitality settings:
Combining comfort, strength and durability, the Konfurb Fly Sled is a versatile chair for any hospitality setting. A 100% polypropylene backrest, 12mm solid sled base frame and powder-coated finish make this robust model the perfect match for the outdoors.
If you prefer higher tables for your outdoor space, the Konfurb Fly Sled Barstool is a versatile and adaptable option. A 12mm solid sled base frame and polypropylene high back shell will give your café customers a sense of comfort and support.
The Konfurb Duoblock, designed by internationally recognised industrial designer Martin Ballendat, is stackable and UV-protected, making it the ideal multi-purpose chair for outdoor suntraps. Made from 100% polypropylene, this chair is low maintenance too.
The Peekaboo Stool sees modern minimalist design meet perfect functionality. Made from durable plastic, it is lightweight and stackable for easy storage. Its award-winning design means there’s no ‘vacuum effect’ when stacked, making them easy to use every time.
The Konfurb Flare has a four-leg base and features a modern shell design with winged elbow rests for extra flexibility and comfort. This model is an excellent choice for outdoor areas, stackable, and easy to clean. A hardy 100% polypropylene shell makes the Flare ideal all year round.
The Konfurb Selene, designed by acclaimed architect and designer Claudio Bellini, has a powder-coated steel base for rigorous daily use. A polypropylene backrest and contoured wooden seat make this eye-catching design a smart choice.
The Buro Maxim Sled is an all-purpose chair for every setting. Equally at home indoors or outdoors, this sled-frame chair provides superior comfort with an upholstered foam seat pad. A powder-coated frame and polypropylene back ensure durability for all seasons, and it has an easy-clean vinyl covering.
Ready to work on your outdoor café seating ideas? Check out our wide range of seating for hospitality settings at: buroseating.com/our-products/cafe-seating/