Great patio furniture brings comfort and function to your outdoor spaces. With a spacious table and easy-to-use, comfortable chairs a basic brick patio is transformed into a sensory-rich dining destination. Outfit a cozy porch with a wicker sofa and a classic wicker rocking chair, both stocked with ample cushions, and the porch will quickly become a second family room during the warm weather months.
Don’t overlook the outdoor-living opportunities on balconies and in pocket gardens. When complemented with the right patio furniture, these petite garden getaways will beckon you outside time and again.
Check out the following tips for choosing the best patio furniture for your space. Thoughtful planning will ensure that your outdoor living space is inviting for years to come.
- Make a List
Begin by thinking about how you would like your outdoor space to function. Would you like it to serve as a dining area on warm summer nights? Would you like to host your next dinner party or your daughter’s birthday party in the space? Is a peaceful reading nook more of what you’re looking for in your outdoor room?
Make a list of the many things you would like to do in the space and use it as a guide to determine what type of furniture is necessary. If the primary function of your 12×16-foot patio is to host casual evening cocktails, there is no need for a dining table. Opt for ample comfortable seating, several side tables, and a fire pit.
- Take a Seat
Take a seat before you buy. Comfortable patio furniture, just like interior furniture, will be used regularly as opposed to uninviting patio furniture, which might have good looks but not-so-good comfort.
- Go for Easy Care
Reserve the bulk of your garden-side hours for enjoying your space as opposed to maintaining furniture when you purchase easy-care patio furniture. Most metal, teak, cedar, and all-weather wicker pieces are unfazed by whatever nature throws their way. Furniture made using these forgiving materials will look wonderful for years.
- Consider Storage
Add years to the life of your patio furniture by storing it in a protected location, such as a garage or basement during the off season. Even the toughest 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 is easily taken apart for compact storage.
- Color Smart
When purchasing patio furniture, you’re not limited to the natural tones of wood; the black, white, and beige of wicker; or metal pieces. Colorful finishes abound in the world of outdoor furniture. For stylish longevity, reserve bold splashes of color for cushions and accent pieces.
- Invest in Quality
The old adage “you get what you pay for” is true for patio furniture. Plastic resin chairs or side tables 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.
- Look Underfoot
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 the great outdoors.
- Search for Dual-Purpose Pieces
Look for hardworking furniture. An ottoman that doubles as extra seating for your next backyard bash and a simple bench that will stand alone or cozy up to an alfresco dining table are essential for frequently used outdoor spaces.
Advice from the Experts
With Memorial Day around the corner, it’s the unofficial start of summer. As temperatures rise, you are probably starting to think about the time you will spend outside. And if you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, whether it’s a large backyard with a barbecue and pool or a simple city balcony, you’re probably going to spend a good amount of time there. However, creating an outdoor space can be a bigger challenge than an indoor room because your furniture has to compete with the elements.
Real estate mogul Twila True sees the biggest trend in outdoor space as it being an extension of your home. “An outdoor space can provide a comfortable and leisurely escape that can also double as an entertainment space. Most recently, many backyards have become the place to host guests rather than the standard dining room. They are a representation of your life outside the home and as such, should mirror your personality,” she explained.
Whether you are replacing old pieces or starting with a blank slate, interior designer Lisa Gilmore stresses the importance of scale, particularly when it comes to smaller spaces, “Once you figure out what the need for the space is, really think of the appropriate layout for traffic flow and best amount of seating. I often find people shove large-scale outdoor sectionals in small patios or too many chairs crammed in a space. Your outdoor space should be as comfy and well planned as your interior.”
Once you figure out exactly what you need, then think about what materials make the most sense. “Will teak withstand the weather or should you opt for a coated metal option?” she says. No matter what you go with, you can’t go wrong with choosing something as low maintenance as possible.
Go With The Flow
To continue the flow of the space from indoor to outdoor, Gilmore suggests sticking to the same general color palette. “For instance, if your home is very monochromatic and white inside, consider having white and cream fabrics. You can always weave in grays, browns and even some pops of color for fun if you would like. You can also do this through pattern use as well and get creative with mixing and matching.”
In recent years, creating that flow has been a little easier, according to Michael Henry, Chief Merchandising Officer at Evine, “These days, they are making outdoor pieces look more like it could be an indoor item which means the world of opportunities is even bigger for the consumer who is in the market for new furniture.”
Furthermore, there are a lot of décor items designed for both spaces, from Stackable Planters from Evine to Lilly Pulitzer X Pottery Barn pillows. Multi-use rugs are another way to add color or texture to a space. Sara Sugarman, who is the CEO and founder of Lulu & Georgia is a big proponent. “My husband and I just bought our first house and we are so excited to have a yard after years of apartment dwelling. The patio area was one of the first places we started working on. I’m loving graphic black and white rugs for outdoor. It makes the space feel modern and fresh. We are pairing with light woods, concrete pieces, and director chairs to complete the look.”
Make the Most of Your Space
Even if you have a limited amount of square footage to work with—don’t discount the possibilities of the space. Trevor Rackham-Evans of Overstock makes a great point: “You don’t need a giant deck or patio to enjoy a stylish, comfortable outdoor area. Small outdoor spaces can have cozy arrangements of furniture and décor to create a more intimate setting for dining or relaxation.”
Henry actually thinks smaller outdoor spaces are much better than larger ones because “it forces you to keep things simple.”
To maximize the use of small spaces, both Rackham-Evans and Henry recommend looking for multifunctional pieces such as a chair that can be turned into a table or a storage ottoman.