Outdoor Furniture, Decor & Accessories
It can be hard to get a handle on what to do with an outdoor living space. Do you outfit it with inexpensive furniture that is easy to replace? Do you pay a lot for things that can stand up to the elements? Should the space be an extension of your indoor style, or have a character all its own? More
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As with most decorating decisions, there are no absolute rules on how to choose outdoor furniture that’s best for you. Luckily, there are some guidelines that will help you get started.
How Will You Use the Space?
If you want to spend as much time as possible outside once the weather gets warm, invest in some high-quality furniture. That means wood, wrought iron or high-grade composite materials. They're more expensive, but provide the support and comfort necessary to enjoy your patio or deck.
People who plan to eat most meals outside may want to choose a durable, high-end outdoor dining set and make do with less expensive furniture elsewhere. For pieces that will only see occasional use, there's no need to break the bank. A few fabric folding chairs may be all you need.
Know Your Materials
Outdoor furniture crafted from wood can be as comfortable as your favorite easy chair or couch. Natural, sturdy and good-looking, wood is an outdoor classic. Weather-resistant varieties like teak, redwood, cypress and cedar make the best furniture.
Wrought iron and steel are highly durable, but likely to rust. They will require weather-proofing and paint touch-ups at the end of each season.
Aluminum and Plastic
While rustproof, lightweight and inexpensive, aluminum and plastic can also feel uncomfortable and cheap. These materials may also get hot in the sun, making them uncomfortable for sitting. Newer powder coated aluminum furniture can replicate heavier metals and offer easy-care affordability that looks higher end.
Fabric and Cushions
Once you know how to choose outdoor furniture, don't spoil it by skimping on the seat cushions and pillows. Those thin, flimsy pancakes won't seem like such a bargain later if they make sitting uncomfortable.
You want cushions that are several inches thick but lightweight to allow for easy drying. When shopping, put a cushion on a chair and try it out. Don't rely on a simple squeeze test for something so important.
The best outdoor fabrics are generally made of artificial materials. They won't shrink and are breathable, mold-resistant and colorfast. Although some fading is inevitable, todays UV rated fabric do an amazing job holding up to the daily beating that the sun can inflict. Consider prints or textural multi-hued weaves for outdoor cushions, a subtle pattern can go a long way toward hiding stains and wear.
Having your very own outdoor retreat doesn't require a lot of fussiness. Furniture can be mostly neutral with some fun pillows for pops of color. Color can also be introduced on the fabric of an umbrella, shade sale or privacy screen.
When trying to coordinate all of your outdoor pieces, it's best to stay in one design family. Choose all modern furniture with clean, simple lines or pick all traditional pieces with curly wrought iron and lots of embellishments. It's easy for decks and patios to look unorganized, so staying consistent with style is a great way to elevate the look and tie the space together.