Outdoor furniture adds another dimension to gardens and patios, and it’s great fun choosing the best pieces for your space. Keeping in mind what you want to do in your outdoor area and how much space you have helps you pick the materials that best suit your needs.
Are you going to use your garden space for relaxing or entertaining? For example, if you’re going to eat meals outside, then you’ll need a dining table and chairs, but if you want a tranquil spot for reading or enjoying the fresh air, you’ll do best with comfy chairs, sofas and loungers. Barbecues are often the center of an outdoor entertainment area, so you’ll need chairs for your guests plus side tables for snacks and drinks.
Another factor to consider is space. For instance, large outdoor patios that flow over into pool areas look great with bulky furniture, but smaller areas such as enclosed decks or even apartment balconies need compact chairs and tables. Remember, you need space for people to move around and socialize as well as for the furniture.
Outdoor furniture is available in a multitude of materials, all of which have pros and cons:
- Steel or iron. A wide range of styles and sizes, and it’s hardwearing. May need protection against rust.
- Aluminum. Lightweight, often powder coated in bold colors. May be expensive.
- Wood. Strong and durable, but it’s heavy. Needs annual treatment against water damage.
- Plastic. Lightweight and inexpensive. Long exposure to sun and weather may cause it to discolor or crack.
- Rattan. Synthetic rattan is durable and weather-resistant during summer.
- Bamboo. Environmentally friendly, but must be kept under shelter away from rain and sun.
Try it Out
Would you buy a jacket without trying it on? Outdoor furniture is the same — you need to sit in it to make sure it’s the right height and the seats are the correct depth. Dining tables must be designed so that chairs fit underneath with plenty of space for diners. If you’re buying online, try to get to a brick-and-mortar store beforehand to physically check out the items you’re purchasing.
Floor Coverings and Accessories
Modern outdoor rugs are hardy and stand up to most weather conditions. Floor coverings add a touch of luxury to an outdoor space and are a fantastic way to introduce a color or pattern theme. They also help to protect the floor from scratches and marks when furniture is moved around.
Other accessories to add depth to your outdoor decor include:
- Sun umbrellas, either set in a table or freestanding.
- Cushions add color and comfort.
- Awnings or shade gazebos, constructed of canvas or other weatherproof material.
- Lights for nighttime entertaining; choose solar-powered, energy-efficient lights.
You want to be able to enjoy your outdoor furniture without spending hours every month maintaining it. All-weather, good quality furniture is usually hard-wearing, needing minimal looking after.
If you don’t use the furniture during winter, storing it indoors will lengthen its life considerably. Fold up or stackable furniture is ideal if your store room is small, or go for pieces that dismantle easily. Invest in waterproof and weatherproof covers for big tables and other large pieces of furniture that can’t be easily moved.
Search online, peruse magazines and visit stores when you’re choosing outdoor furniture. Buy the best quality you can afford, and you’ll have many years of relaxing fun using the pieces you’ve picked.