As a homeowner, it’s an exciting thing to choose furniture for each space in your house. A great armchair, area rug, or end table can completely change the feel of a room. But how do you go about choosing furniture for the spaces outside of your home? How do you upgrade that concrete slab the real estate agent called a “patio”? How do you utilize the enormous space in your backyard so that you can easily have barbecues, family reunions, and play areas for your children?

Before you go about choosing a new outdoor dining set, here are a few things you may want to consider.

1. Space

First, how big is your outdoor space? Do you have a huge patio, or only a little postage stamp you like to call your yard? Secondly, how much space do you need to entertain outdoors? Do you like to have your 50-person family over for Thanksgiving dinners and reunions? Or are you just hoping to carve out enough space for you and your spouse to sit and have coffee in the morning?

If you have a large space or you need to accommodate a lot of people, you may need to consider investing some money in a larger table. However, if you just need a tranquil spot for a now-and-then drink, a small bistro table should do just fine!

2. Environment

Depending on where you live, you’ll have to invest in a dining set that will handle the weather. If you’re located in the Pacific Northwest, where you experience more rain than sun, you will need chairs with waterproof materials. If you’re in a hot and dry environment, you probably don’t want a glass or metal table, as this will become too hot to touch during the summer months.

3. Style

Are you trying to furnish the patio of your Malibu beach house, or are you trying to buy a dining set for your Colorado lodge? The style of your home affects the style of the pieces you will buy! Make sure you purchase a dining set that matches your personality and your home’s personality.

4. Versatility

You want to be able to use your outdoor dining set in a variety of conditions for a variety of events. Don’t buy something so elegant and extravagant that it becomes the “special occasion” dining set that you never use; but neither should you buy something so shabby-chic that it just seems…shabby. Get a table and chairs that can be used for your sister’s wedding reception and your six-year-old’s birthday party!

5. Maintenance

Let’s be honest: if you’re putting furniture outside, you don’t want something that’s particularly high maintenance. Keep in mind that when you’re buying an outdoor dining set some materials will require more upkeep than others. Wood, for example, needs regular varnish and finishing to protect it from the elements; but aluminum doesn’t. Don’t fall in love with a dining set that will require more maintenance than you want to put in.