Choosing Outdoor Furniture: the What, Where and Why
Choosing outdoor furniture:
Helping you make an informed decision.
In the modern home, outdoor areas are becoming increasingly integral living spaces. They are enjoying more use, better function and closer ties with the internal spaces. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing outdoor furniture to achieve a stylish, comfortable and long lasting result for your home. You should consider four things; your conditions, usage, design and size.
Where is the furniture going? For areas that are uncovered you may need to consider the materials more critically. How long will they last? Think about what maintenance may be required and other practicalities, like where to store cushions out of the elements. Dirty or dusty locations will not lend themselves well to light colours or materials that cannot very easily be washed off.
While modern materials specifically designed for outdoor use can cop a fair amount of punishment, anything left in harsh Australian conditions will eventually show signs of aging – some materials more than others. Most modern outdoor areas are covered and offer both you and your furniture protection from the harsh elements, which opens up a great choice in materials without needing to be too concerned with longevity or maintenance.
The following material ‘cheat sheet’ may help to guide you in you decision making. Keep on eye out on our blog for further more in-depth articles on the pros and cons of each material.
Good quality timber is hard wearing even in full weather conditions but if you want to keep it looking like new – it will require maintenance. Regular application of appropriate timber oil will help protect your timber furniture, stopping it from drying out and also making it more resistant to stains and surface wear. It may also require some periodic sanding to return it to ‘showroom standard’.
While synthetic wicker is UV stabilised, is generally not recommended for full weather conditions for a few reasons. Wicker settings usually contain generously sized plush cushions. Keep in mind that most of these cushions will have been designed with comfort in mind, and therefore not all components of these cushions may be all-weather appropriate. While plenty of good materials are water resistant, they are not waterproof (unless they are vinyl or plastic coated which can feel horrible to sit on). Over time UV may also effect the structural integrity of the woven wicker, which can become brittle and breakdown. So our tips are to store your cushions when not in use, and avoid positioning your wicker setting in full sun all day.
Aluminium and Resin.
These are the two types of furniture you want for full weather use. They are hardy, UV resistant, won’t soak up water (designs generally do not involve fabric cushions), are easy to keep clean and require minimal maintenance.
Aluminium is generally powdercoated to give a hardy and stable coloured finish, its light weight and is often paired with textilene – a PVC coated polyester that is also very well suited to weathering Australia’s harsh outdoor conditions.
Quality plastic Resin is commonly paired with fiberglass to give a more modern designer finish. Good quality Resin products will incorporate a UV stabiliser in the material when it is extruded – this will stop the plastic from prematurely breaking down in the sun. But beware, there are many examples of cheaper products that will not stand the test of time in sunny conditions. Make sure you ask if the Resin has been properly UV stabilised.
Furniture made from steel, while cheap, generally does not fare well outdoors long term, particularly when near salt water where rusting may be an issue.
How will you use your outdoor furniture? Do you imagine a place where you will be able to relax and wind-down on an informal sofa layout or do you need a traditional area allocated to outdoor dining? While traditional dining settings will always be a popular choice for outdoor entertaining, many people are now looking for added versatility in their furniture. Larger oversize pieces and higher coffee tables (like this) that can double as somewhere to eat from while sitting at a sofa are becoming increasingly popular. This kind of set up saves space, provides versatility and creates a more relaxed feel to an area. Modular corner units are best suited (as the name suggest) to be placed into a corner – this can save you space and allows plenty of room for guests.
Aesthetics…what style best suits your home? Timber has a versatile and timeless appearance, teak can look lovely in a beach side residence. Wicker and aluminium pieces will mostly depend on individual styling, some are ultra modern and others better suited to a colonial style home. Resin furniture (the newest addition to the Embellish Imports range) tends to suit the more modern household. Wicker, Aluminium and Resin are available in a wide range of colours that will compliment your outdoor area and the colour scheme of the rest of your home.
How much space do you have in your area? How many people do you regularly entertain? If you have outdoor areas, consider where you may be able to repurpose some parts of the outdoor setting in another area, or bring them all together for a large gathering. If considering moving furniture around, keep in mind the weight of the items, lugging around large timber pieces may be a little hard for the non-bodybuilders among us.
Have you considered an extension table? Standard length for everyday but extendable when you have extras to entertain. Extra chairs could be a few stools can be tucked under the table or some folding chairs that can be put away and brought out when needed.
Daybeds are the ultimate luxury where you have the room. A 3 seater lounge is a more streamlined option which would still allow someone to lie down in comfort. If you’re working with a small space a comfortable chair combined with an ottoman can be a great place for a quick afternoon snooze. Add additional throw cushions to any of these options for added luxury and romance.
In the end, there is no right or wrong pieces or combination of pieces – it’s about what works best for your area and makes you happy. Good luck choosing outdoor furniture for your home!