Spring is such a beautiful time of year. The days lengthen and become increasingly warmer. The heady scent of jasmine fills the air as our gardens start to become verdant and offer us an extension of our indoor living.
With summer fast approaching we are reminded of taking advantage of the long summer evenings. Most peoples outdoor living spaces are neglected over winter and our BBQ’S and outdoor spaces have either collected a fine sprinkling of dust, a fine envelope of spider webs or a combination of the two.
As we start to look forward to entertaining family and friends over the languid summer months we turn our attention to the task of smartening up our outdoor spaces. Careful planners and green thumbs will have already been busy pruning and planting their gardens. Maybe you have even sanded back your deck and applied a new shiny coat ready to welcome guests. However, many of us look around forlornly at our tired and miserable looking outdoor furniture and our mind turns to ideas of replacing them with some gorgeous inviting pieces!
Selecting Outdoor Furniture
As with indoor furniture, selecting outdoor furniture can seem like somewhat of an overwhelming task. The trick is to closely assess your exact needs and to look at how you will be using the space? Is it intended for outdoor dining? For rest and relaxation? Or a combination of both? Once this has been ascertained you can then start to pinpoint precisely what items you will require for your outdoor space. How you live and how you are planning to use your outdoor living areas will largely dictate the pieces you purchase. It’s also very important to look at how often you will be using the outdoor space and how long you wish to have the furniture pieces.
Decide if you want your outdoor space to pack a punch and make a statement or if you want your garden to be the hero. There is a huge amount of gorgeous brightly coloured plastic furniture on the market that will scream fun and add an exciting pop of colour to any outdoor space. If however you want your lush green garden to shine, then it’s important to select pieces that appear visually light in the space, so consider slim frames and transparent materials.
In Australia we do tend to have vast extremes in weather conditions and this means that the furniture you select really has to be impervious to the elements. It is therefore imperative that the pieces are capable of withstanding the harsh rays of the sun, the torrents of rainfall we experience and also heavy enough that they won’t be blown away with the first gust of wind that brazenly sweeps through your backyard!
Comfort of course is also crucial, after all, summer entertaining is all about enjoying leisurely alfresco BBQ’S at your outdoor dining setting with friends, unwinding by the pool on a sun lounge or indulging in a languorous afternoon of reading in an outdoor armchair.
As a rule, it’s nice to have generously proportioned outdoor furniture, as this will increase the overall comfort factor. Permanent or removable seat covers and cushions are also a must!
Outdoor furniture Options
There is quite a variety of materials used in the manufacturing of outdoor furniture including natural and manmade materials.
Glass looks gorgeous outdoors as it catches light beautifully and gives a luxurious feel to your outdoor spaces. Glass looks especially good on outdoor dining table tops, and is easy to wipe down after entertaining. However due to its fragile nature, its best advised to use glass in a protected location such as a verandah.
Stone and Concrete
Stone is another material that can look absolutely magnificent as outdoor furniture. Stone table tops add an elegant and sumptuous appearance. While using stone for outdoor furniture can be often more expensive than other materials the benefits far outweigh the cost. Stone is durable and exceedingly hardwearing, not just good looking! Being highly weather resistant, stone will undoubtedly turn your outdoor dining space into something really special. For a super contemporary twist on the more traditional appearance of stone, you could even consider concrete outdoor furniture!
Timber outdoor furniture looks it’s very best when it is brand new. It looks warm, inviting and visually works in harmony with your garden in its natural appearance. However over time is tends to splinter and become grey with the harrowing effects of the elements. If you are prepared to maintain your timber furniture with sanding, oiling and waterproofing, it will maintain its beauty- just be prepared to spend the hours keeping it just so.
Metal in various forms, has long been used in outdoor furniture. However it is really important that the correct finish has been applied to the furniture and that the location of your home is taken into consideration. Sea salt is perhaps one of the most corrosive enemies of metal furniture and it is best advised either use marine grade stainless steel which can be expensive, or good quality anodized aluminum furniture.
Over the last decade we have seen a spike in plastic outdoor furniture as there is a huge range of shapes, colours, and sizes of furniture being designed and manufactured in this versatile material. It is however crucial that your plastic outdoor furniture can withstand UV exposure or you will find that over time, your once gorgeous furniture will start to show cracks. What’s so great about plastic furniture is that you can achieve a designer look without the big budget, allowing you to easily update your outdoor settings as fashion changes. Phillipe Starck does a fantastic and diverse range of plastic furniture that will add instant style to any home.