How to Choose the Right Outdoor Furniture


When the sun is shining and you have outdoor space, there are few things better than spending long, lazy days outside, soaking up the heat and dining in the open air.

If you have the right outdoor furniture, that is. Because lounging outside can be as inviting as kicking back in a well-appointed living room — or as awkward as trying to get comfortable on a worn-out sleeper sofa.

“An outdoor space is really an extension of your indoor space,” said Martyn Lawrence Bullard, a Los Angeles-based interior designer who has created furniture for Harbour Outdoor. “So we look at decorating it as a room. I really want it to feel very inviting and very well thought out.”

That means that collecting the furniture involves more than just haphazardly picking out pieces in a store or on a website. First, you need a plan — which requires figuring out how you’ll be using the space and how you’ll maintain it over time.

For advice, we talked to interior designers, landscape designers and furniture-industry representatives about exactly what you should consider before furnishing your outdoor space.

If you don’t have that much room — on an urban terrace, for example — decide which activity you value the most. If you love to cook and entertain, focus on making your outdoor space into a destination for meals, with a dining table and chairs. If you prefer relaxing with family and friends, forget the dining table and create an outdoor living room with sofas.

Outdoor-furniture manufacturers use a wide range of durable materials, most of which fall into two groups: those that are meant to be impervious to the elements, maintaining their original appearance for many years, and those that will weather or develop a patina over time.

If you want your outdoor furniture to look brand-new for years to come, good material choices include powder-coated steel or aluminum, stainless steel, and plastics resistant to ultraviolet light. But even those materials can change when exposed to the elements over the long term; some fading, staining or corrosion isn’t uncommon.

To resist fading, look for fabrics made from solution-dyed acrylic, like those from Sunbrella and Perennials, in which the colors are integral to the yarn rather than being dyed or printed later in the process. “It doesn’t degrade in the sun, like the polyesters and the nylons,” said Ann Sutherland, the chief executive of Perennials and Sutherland.

For cushions that won’t be soggy for days after a rainstorm, look for inserts that use quick-drying foam. “It’s usually referred to as reticulated or open-cell foam,” and allows water to pass through quickly, Mr. Schwarz said.

If you can’t decide whether cushions are for you, he recommended a middle ground: Choose furniture that’s comfortable without cushions, but comes with thin pads that can be added for extended lounging.

A lot of outdoor furniture can be left out all year long, especially if it’s heavy enough not to blow around in storms. But cushions are another story.

To preserve cushions as long as possible — and to ensure that they’ll be dry when you want to use them — some designers recommend removing and storing them when they’re not in use. Others recommend protecting outdoor furniture with covers.

Both of these strategies, however, are labor intensive and may discourage you from using your outdoor space on days when you can’t be bothered to put out the cushions or uncover the furniture.

Ms. Sutherland recommended a more laid-back approach: Leave the furniture and cushions out and uncovered for most of the year, but cover or store them when you won’t be using them for extended periods of time — during the winter, for instance, or when you’re out of town.



Source link Real Estate

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