Shopping for Cafe Tables – The New York Times

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If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space — even a little bit — you may be in the market for a cafe table. Why? A cafe table can make the tiniest outdoor space a destination for open-air meals.

Smaller than a dining table, but capable of holding at least two place settings, a cafe table is ideal for balconies, pint-size terraces and intimate garden nooks.

“Smaller cafe tables are great additions to extend the residential living space, if you want to bring that living room or dining room outdoors,” said Samuel Jimenez, the senior associate and studio director at J. Mendoza Gardens, in New York.

There is one caveat if you live in a vertical city like New York: It’s important to think about wind, Mr. Jimenez cautioned, because lightweight cafe tables “tend to be a bit like sails.”

To reduce the chances that your new table will blow away, he suggested choosing one with a slatted or perforated top. You could also choose a folding model that can be stashed indoors when you’re not using it, or a table with a weighted base.

And if all else fails, consider deploying a leash. “When we get to higher floors, we have to think about tethering furniture to the parapet or a paver,” Mr. Jimenez said. That way, “you’re not going to have things flying around the roof deck.”

  • Which materials are best? Lightweight aluminum is nice for portability, but powder-coated steel and wood are heavier, Mr. Jimenez said, which is good if you’re worried about wind.

  • What’s the optimal shape for the top? A square top provides more dining space, but “a circle tends to be better than a square for a tight space,” Mr. Jimenez said, because it’s easier to squeeze past.

  • What if you’re having a big dinner party? If you have a couple of small outdoor tables, he said, you can always push them together.

Table with acacia wood legs and polystone top

$399 at Article: 888-746-3455 or

Powder-coated steel table with terrazzo base

$495 at Design Within Reach: 800-944-2233 or

Portable table with steel legs, linoleum top and leather details

$345 at West Elm: 888-922-4119 or

Square 28-inch powder-coated steel table with umbrella hole

$346 at Horne: 877-404-6763 or

Table with powder-coated steel base and bamboo-slat top

$575 at Danish Design Store: 866-482-8722 or

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