5 bistro set ideas: the perfect update for a patio or balcony space

These bistro set ideas will give any small garden space a fabulous new look

four seater bistro set on a small patio area
(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Bistro sets are stylish, practical and a great choice for small spaces. Many designs are stackable or can be folded up to save space, so at the end of a sunny autumn day or during winter you can easily tidy them away and store them in a shed or garage. Plus (top tip from us here), they’re ideal for Christmas when you have guests over. Simply place the set at the end of your dining table and you’ve instantly created extra dining space for family or friends.

Now’s a great time to pick up a new buy too – you’ll get to enjoy it on sunny autumn days plus you’ll also be set for spring 2021. Take a look at some of our favourite ideas for bistro sets below, then check out our best garden furniture for more great ways to make the most of your outdoor space. 

1. Opt for simple Scandi style

white bistro set on a small balcony set

(Image credit: Ikea)

White goes with everything, right? If you’re after a versatile buy that will work in any space, you can’t go wrong with a classic white set for your patio or balcony space. You can easily change up the look with cushions and accessories, while the greenery of plants will really stand out against white furniture. This Fejan outdoor foldable chair from Ikea is slimline and lightweight so is easy to move around to where you need it most, and if you team it with the Vaddo outdoor table (also foldable) you've got a great inexpensive set. This great-value buy is ideal if you have little ones too as you can easily wipe off those sticky jam sandwich finger marks after lunch. 

2. Invest in added comfort 

rattan bistro set on a patio

(Image credit: Very)

Not all bistro sets have to be compact and foldable. If you've got a slightly larger patio and want something that offers plenty of comfort for lazy brunches alfresco, a design with high-backed armchairs is a good option. This Prestbury set from Very is the one for for you if you want a stylish yet classic design that is going to last you for years, plus it's particularly suited to a period property. Crafted with a weatherproof rattan-effect weave on a powder coated aluminum frame, it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and it comes with a round glass-topped dining table, two comfy armchairs, seat pads and back rest cushions. 

3. Introduce a touch of French charm

four seater bistro set on a patio at the bottom of a garden

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

When it comes to garden furniture, nothing says French Riveria chic more than a cafe-style bistro set. The bonus of a lightweight and fully foldable design means that even with four chairs and a larger table it will be easy to store inside over winter. The classic French styling of this Rive Droite set from Garden Trading ensures it will work in any setting for your morning coffee on the patio, to lunch with your other half and afternoon tea with the family. There are three colours to choose from – chalk, clay and carbon (shown) and the powder coated steel finish means it’s completely weatherproof and it can be used inside too. 

4. Go slimline on small balconies

bistro set on a small balcony space

(Image credit: Argos)

On small balconies, it's really important to think about the practicality of your furniture to maximise the limited amount of space you have. If the set is slightly too big you'll spend all your time edging around the table to sit down or access another part of the balcony. For that reason, an oval table can be a better choice for a slimline option, plus there's no sharp corners to bang yourself on as you squeeze past the table. This cleverly designed 2 seater oval bistro set from Argos has two stackable chairs and the table has removable legs, so during the winter months you can keep it all tucked away in a corner. Both the chairs and table are made from steel and the slatted design offers an urban look for those who love modern styles. 

5. Inject a splash of colour

red bistro set on a small balcony space

(Image credit: Ikea)

A splash of colour does wonders for a small space, and the mind! Injecting a vibrant dose of fun colour can instantly lift a balcony or patio space and give it the focal point it deserves. This bright red Tarnö set from Ikea will give you many happy hours in the sun. Crafted from powder-coated steel and acacia wood, this traditional design is given a modern update due to the cheery colour. It’s foldable and durable, which is always a bonus during any rainy days. Team it with the Tranarö indoor-outdoor stool and you've got a handy extra seat when required too.  

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Sophie Warren-Smith

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 20 years. She recently trained to be a florist and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for weddings and events.