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!
Introducing The Fraser range – quality colonial style garden furniture for character homes
Embellish Import’s new colonial garden furniture ‘Fraser’ range has been styled to suit classic and character styled homes – from traditional old Queenslanders to classic post war construction. The pieces are stylish, comfortable and well constructed using good quality materials.
The Fraser range is constructed from a rust free aluminium frame. This strong, light weight, frame is well suited for outdoor use, even in the harshest conditions. Skillfully woven over this frame is a high quality, UV stabilised, synthetic rattan wicker. This wicker is a ‘half round’ style wicker, giving the piece great texture and a luxurious look and feel.
Cushions are constructed from luxury outdoor Sunproof fabrics filled with quality foams. These are cushions that will stand the test of time in the outdoors. Cushions are styed with a ‘rolled edge’ which compliments the traditional aesthetic. Both the two seat and three seat couches and single sofa chairs are well sized to provide comfort.
The Fraser range includes a practical coffee table and side table, in woven wicker. Both of these pieces are constructed with the same materials as the sofa set. Tempered glass tops are used to provide a safe, durable and practical finish to the pieces. Thoughtfully, the side table is built a little higher so that your coffee, or cocktail, is a little easier to reach when lounging in the sofa chairs.
Alternatively, there is a teak range of coffee and side tables that also coordinate with the Fraser range. These match beautifully with the wicker colour and complement the style of the furniture well. Wicker and wood are a classic and timeless combination. Click here to view the teak range of coffee and side tables from our partner Kasule Imports.
If you’re also looking for a dining option, the Fraser range does contain a dining chair which combines beautifully with a range of teak tables.
Browse the site to see all the specs on the Fraser Range or contact us to find your closest stockist.
Outdoor Furniture Cushions – Spotting Quality
Australia’s outdoor conditions are harsh. From long hot days with high UV through to soaking summer storms, only high quality, robust materials will stand the test of time in our sunburnt country. Outdoor cushion materials are no different.
Let’s take a look at the properties you should be looking for in your next set of outdoor cushions…so you don’t find yourself needing to replace them every 6 months!
The fabric. What are the best fabrics for outdoor cushions?
Commonly found materials like spun-polyester, cotton or a blend of the two are generally not recommend for outdoor use. Fabrics like Olefin and acrylic are a better choice. Solution dyed olefin or acrylic materials are the best option.
Why does solution dying give the most vibrant, long lasting colour?
Solution dying means that the colour is added to the substance that makes the material before the fibres are formed. This means that the colour is embedded into the whole of the fibre. The alternative is batch dying or printing after the fibre is produced. This will only coat the outer layer with the colour.
Consider the following analogy for a green coloured fabric: compare an apple and a grape cut in half. The grape shows how a solution dyed fabric will look with the colour all the way through the fabric, while the apple shows how a batch dyed fabric will appear with the colouring only on the outermost layer. This simply means that it will take longer before the colour starts to loose its vibrancy with a solution dyed fabric.
The benefit of solution dyed fabrics is that they are more colourfast, and they are more environmentally friendly to produce. They are more durable to cleaning (including bleaching) when required to remove stubborn stains
Outdoor fabrics should also be treated around each fibre to keep the fabric water repellent and stain resistant. Outdoor cushions will inevitably get damp or dusty or covered in bird droppings if not stored when not in use. You want a material that is going to resist these types of problems easily.
Some fabrics, like Sunproof fabrics, are treated with a sanitized product. This inhibits microbial development, mould and algae infestation in the fabric. This does not stop mould from forming on food/oil deposits that are transferred to the fabric from dirty hands, etc.
The fabric used for outdoor cushions should also container UV blocking agents. These protect the polymer backbone of the fabric from UV radiation. This protects the fibre itself from deteriorating and also prevents fading. This mean it will have the ability to withstand the effects of prolonged exposure to sunlight, wind, rain and humidity, making it long lasting and ideally suited to the Australian outdoor environment.
Is the fabric free of substances which might be harmful to humans and environment? This in not always the case. Look for Oeko-Tex certification or similar for peace of mind on the safety of your fabric.
The filling. What cushion filling gives the best feel?
All cushions require good quality internal foams if they are going to stand up to constant use. A high density foam will provide cushioning that won’t degrade quickly or leave divots where people have been sitting. Some cushion’s foam will also be wrapped in Dacron – this helps to give the cushion a smooth outer layer and adds a bit of softness. This dacron/foam/dacron filling is ideal both for providing cushion with that comfortable cushion feel and for improving the way the cushion cover appears, giving a softer, more rounded and finished look. It also limits wear and stretching of the fabric.
If you intend to leave your cushions out in full weather (e.g. rain) you may want to consider a quick dry foam. This will add significant cost to the cushion, but will help the cushion to dry more quickly after being wet. For this to work you need to consider what the cushion is sitting on. The downside of course is that the cushion may still be wet when you intend to use it. We recommend storing a cushion when not in use, then it will be dry and clean when you do want to use it.
Stitching. Holding it all together.
A chain is only a strong as its weakest link… this holds true with fabrics. A great outdoor fabric sewn with substandard thread will literally come apart at the seams. Look for cushions that have quality outdoor specific thread used for stitching.
Zippers. Make maintenance easy on yourself.
It is inevitable that outdoor cushions will require a wash from time to time. This will be much easier if you can remove the covers, throw them in your washing machine and have them come out refreshed. Who has the time to hand wash? Look for cushions that have zippers, otherwise you will be limited to spot cleaning or heavy loads with long drying times.
So now you know what you should be looking for, browse the Embellish Imports range of quality outdoor furniture cushions here.
Outdoor Fabrics – Perfect for inside
There are a number of great reasons to choose outdoor cushions with quality outdoor fabrics for your indoor areas.
The development of high quality olefin fabrics has meant that outdoor fabrics now have more vibrant colours and patterns which can make any area look great.
With open plan living areas spilling into modern outdoor areas with large bi-fold or sliding doors, many people are searching for fabrics that can tie both areas together with beautiful styling. The problem is that indoor fabrics simply aren’t robust enough to go the distance outside – the practical solution is to bring your outdoor fabrics in! It maybe as simple as using some of your outdoor throw cushions inside too, these will help to carry your theme and colours throughout your living areas.
Why go outdoor fabrics…?
Quality solution dyed fabrics, designed for outdoors, will not only be more colourfast in outdoor conditions, but it also means that the colours will hold with multiple washing – even if you need to use bleach.
Good quality outdoor cushions will also use zippers and (good quality) stitching – they also have to be up to the task of washing, otherwise the cushion can fall apart.
They are generally more resistant to mold and mildew, and offer better stain resistance. This mean that you don’t have to worry about sticky fingers on your indoor fabrics and cushions.
They come in a huge range of colours and patterns!
What to look for:
Quality olefin 100% solution dyed fabrics (like Sunproof)
Zippers on any cushions – this will make cleaning easier.
Colours that you can match for your indoors and out!