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My blog post today is a defense of the humble picnic table. Dear picnic table, why have we forsaken you? One too many splinters? Maybe. Our need for cushy loungey seating to accommodate our ever-expanding girth? Perhaps. Maybe it's our desire to avoid scooching down to endure encroachment on our personal space? Could be. It's hard to argue with the amazing advancements in comfort, design and materials of outdoor furniture. But I, for one, would like to stand up for the picnic table. And I'd definitely like to sit down at one this summer.

Here it is pure and simple. This one is made of Western red cedar (The Home Depot, $369) and comes in a box ready for you to assemble. Hmmm, that part I'm not so keen on. Furniture assembly-induced stress can put a crimp in a beautiful summer day. But if I do get one of these I'd be giving it a coat of opaque stain right away (wood-lovers commence your shudders now). I'd go with pale grey, white, yellow or navy blue.

Despite my allegiance to the classic design, my head can be turned by an innovation like this one. A round dining table is always more conducive to convivial conversation. I also love the green hue of this one. You could really pack a lot of people around this thing. But I think it might feel lonesome if only two were dining, which is something for me to consider as the member of a two-person household.

And then there's this dreamy Euro-stylin' contemporary take from Belgian furniture makers Cassecroute. I have a serious crush on this beauty. Is it just me, or does it look a little bit like a Star Wars spaceship?

This is it. This is what I want: cheerful colour, worn solid wood and a shade overhead. Add a cold cocktail, a plate of freshly shucked oysters and a view of the ocean — or even just the yard at my cottage on Prince Edward Island. (Never mind that this shot was taken in Belize, a girl can dream.)

Forgive this slight digression, but I stumbled across this great idea the other day and this seems like as good a time as any to share it, since we are on the topic of backyard tables. This one isn't a picnic table per se, but it's quite fantastic. Here's the concept: You buy a steel base from StyleGarage for $395, then you buy the lumber of your choice and attach it to the base to make a table — voilà! The final price will depend on the boards you select for the top and how long you want your table to be. The one in the photo is eight feet long with a total cost (using cedar) at around $500. Shop around to check the prices on other 8' outdoor dining tables. I think you will find this is a steal.

See our High & Low Patio Finds for even more affordable dining ideas.

Photo credits:
1. The Home Depot
2. BuildEazy.com
3. Cassecroute via Apartment Therapy
4. Life's a Beach blog
5. StyleGarage

Author: 

Margot Austin

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