Add a little luxe to your al fresco dining this bank holiday

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We spoke to Mykonos based interior designer Themis Z on how to keep al fresco dining cool, carefree and fun.

al fresco

What is the most important thing when creating a space for al fresco dining?
The most important element is to make it feel inviting and relaxed, an atmosphere where your guests just want to sit around all evening enjoying each other’s company amidst a beautiful setting.

Tell me about your al fresco dining space – what do you love about it?
I love that my al fresco dining space can seat a large amount of people. Long dinner tables that bring together an array of people from all walks of life are fantastic. Especially during the summer, people travel more in the summer so it’s a great time for hosting a fun mix of guests!

How does it switch from day to night?
There isn’t a huge difference but subtle and essential decorative touches, like the addition of candles, are very important – the dinner table should always feel fuller than the lunch table. I also tend to change my choice of plates as certain designs and lighter colours are better suited for lunch whereas darker colours are great for the evening.

al fresco

What’s a simple way to make a table look pretty?
The simplest way to make a table look pretty is through beautiful plates. For me, plates are the jewels of the table.

What about music – what’s your perfect outdoor dining playlist?
Believe it or not, I actually love Zara Home’s CDs – they have the best music for home entertaining!

We had the pleasure of going to your dad’s (super cool) house for lunch; has your family had an influence on how you throw a dinner party?
Definitely. What I learnt from him was that the most important thing is for your guests to feel at home and to create an environment where they’re relaxed, happy and care-free. Dinner parties are about having fun.

I can tell you love to entertain after seeing the dining table at your sunset dinner – glasses filled with pretty flowers and candles covering the table, how can we recreate something similar in the UK?
It’s very easy. An abundance of candles is something that can be used as decoration in any part of the world and always has the same beautiful effect. Flowers transform a setting and with endless arrays of blooms, there is something to suit everyone’s style.

What are your top 5 tips for choosing an al fresco dining menu?
1. Make the menu light as you don’t want your guests to become tired while digesting
2. Always have more cold choices than hot dishes

3. Try to stay away from red meat and chose lighter options such as fish and chicken
4. Incorporate lots of vegetable dishes
5. Have just one simple dessert that everyone can just pick up and eat even if they have left the table

What’s a good dish / style of food to serve to stop you getting stuck inside in the kitchen all evening?
Dishes that allow you to be present when hosting a dinner party are so important. A giant green salad in a large scale serving bowl alongside pasta with a tomato and basil sauce, again in a beautiful platter, is a delicious meal, which also looks elegant. It is all about how you serve the food – Rose wine is also a must!

Is there a trick to choosing a guest list and where to put people on the table / how many people to invite?
I think it is often completely down to the host as it is him or her who sets the tone for the evening. There could be times when you feel like seeing a few close friends over an intimate dinner or nights where you want a buzzing party. As long as your initial guest list is curated for the tone of the evening, it shouldn’t matter where they are seated on the table.

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