Great patio furniture brings comfort and function to your outdoor spaces. With a spacious table and comfortable chairs, a basic stone patio can be transformed into an alfresco dining destination. Outfit a porch with a wicker sofa and classic rocking chair, both topped with plush cushions, and it can quickly become a second family room during the warm weather months.
When complemented with the right patio furniture, even small spaces such as balconies and pocket gardens will beckon you outside. Use the following tips to choose the best patio furniture for your space. Thoughtful planning will help make your backyard your new favorite spot for lounging, dining and entertaining.
1. Make a list of patio furniture needs.
Begin by thinking about how you would like your outdoor space to function. Do you want it to serve as a dining area on warm summer nights? Do you plan to host your next dinner party or your child’s birthday party in the space? Or do you envision a peaceful reading nook tucked into your outdoor room?
People are also reading…
Make a list of the activities you would like to do in the space and use it as a guide to determine what type of patio furniture is necessary. If the primary function of your 12-by-16-foot patio is to host casual evening cocktails, for example, there is no need for a dining table. Instead, opt for ample comfortable seating, several side tables and a fire pit.
2. Try outdoor seating before you buy.
When shopping for patio chairs and sofas, be sure to take a seat before you buy it. Patio furniture will likely be used regularly, especially during the warmer months, so it’s essential that the seating is comfortable. You and your guests will be less likely to enjoy your patio if it’s outfitted with uninviting furniture. For the utmost comfort, look for pieces with plush cushions on the seats and backs, or cozy up metal and wood furniture with fluffy pillows. Make sure all fabrics are weather-resistant to prevent color-fading or mildew growth.
3. Go for easy-care outdoor furniture.
Reserve the bulk of your outside hours for enjoying your living space, as opposed to maintaining the furniture. Search for easy-care patio furniture to minimize the need for upkeep. Most metal, teak, cedar and all-weather wicker pieces are unfazed by whatever nature throws their way. With a bit of regular cleaning, furniture made using these forgiving materials will look wonderful for years. You can also accessorize patio furniture with outdoor cushions and pillows with removable covers that can be easily tossed in the washing machine.
4. Consider storage for your patio furniture.
Add years to the life of your patio furniture by storing it in a protected location during the off-season. A garage, basement or shed will shield pieces from the elements to prevent damage or additional wear. Even the toughest patio furniture, such as teak chairs or a wrought-iron settee, will last longer if it is placed in storage when not in use. If your storage space is limited, look for patio furniture that folds or can be easily taken apart for compact storage.
5. Match colors to your outdoor decor.
When purchasing patio furniture, you’re not limited to neutral colors or the natural tones of wood. Wicker, wood and metal pieces now come in a wide variety of colorful finishes. Look for furnishings that play up colors found in your landscaping, on your home’s exterior or in your other outdoor decor. If you can’t find the right color in the store, a DIY paint job can quickly perk up patio furniture with any hue you’d like. For the most long-lasting color, reserve bolder hues for cushions and accent pieces.
6. Invest in quality patio furniture.
The old adage “you get what you pay for” is generally true for patio furniture. Plastic resin chairs or side tables, for example, might look great on the shelf and will keep their good looks for a year or two out in the sun, but in time they will become brittle and lose their vibrant coloring. The same is true for some wood products and wicker pieces. Shop with care, checking consumer reports and reviews, before making a big purchase. If you’re sticking to a budget, plan to splurge on items that will be used most often, such as a comfortable patio chair or a durable dining table. You can save on smaller accessories such as pillows and accent tables.
7. Add outdoor rugs for color and comfort.
Ground patio furniture by placing it on an all-weather rug. Textile advancements in recent years have brought many quick-drying outdoor rugs to the market. Soft underfoot and rich in texture, an outdoor rug will lend the comforts of indoors to your patio or deck. Choose a color and pattern that coordinates with your other furniture and decor to tie your outdoor space together. Make sure it’s rated for outdoor use before buying.
8. Search for dual-purpose patio furniture.
Look for hardworking furniture to make the most of your space and budget. Pieces that serve multiple purposes can eliminate the need to purchase additional furniture and leave more room for your favorite outdoor activities. For example, an ottoman or garden stool can double as extra seating for guests. A simple bench can stand alone or cozy up to an alfresco dining table. Choose patio furniture with function in mind to take full advantage of frequently used outdoor spaces.
(Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at www.bhg.com.)