Patio furniture has the ability to completely transform the look and feel of an outdoor space. Seeing as a backyard patio should be treated like your own personal oasis – it pays to invest in the finishing touches wisely. Great patio furniture brings a level of comfort and function to the alfresco area. Spacious tables and comfortable seating is what takes a basic patio to one that offers the ultimate dining and entertaining experience. So you want to get it right!
Before you rush out to buy furniture for your outdoor room it’s important to define the purpose of your patio. Will you be dining or dancing the night away? Consider whether the space is to be a party area, dining with the family or a spot to relax in. Maybe it’s a mix of all three. Whatever you decide, don’t overlook the outdoor living opportunities - a well-designed patio space will quickly become a second living room. With a little thoughtful planning and the right patio furniture, you can have a space that’s furnished to last.
1. Choose quality, long-lasting materials
Quality is key when it comes to patio furniture and plays a huge role in finding pieces that’ll survive the harshest outdoor elements. Some of the most popular materials for patio furniture include:
Timber: Timber and other hardwood furniture adds a natural, warm feel to the space. If you’re deciding on wood furniture, make sure you know what type of wood you’re purchasing and how to take care of it properly. Look for dense, moisture-resistant hardwoods like teak or cedar as these tend to last longer. Check how it has been fastened together, brass and stainless steel screws are best for outdoors.
Plastic: If you like playful designs and statement pieces, injection-moulded plastic is lightweight and attractive. This material choice is ideal for those that want a colourful outdoor setting on a budget.
Wicker: Natural wicker and woven furniture will add a romantic appeal to the space. Wicker patio furniture is made from organic materials, like rattan, willow and bamboo, and adds stylish appeal. For something more heavy duty, opt for all-weather wickers which are woven from synthetic strands on lightweight, rustproof aluminium frames. These are better suited for outdoor use and come in some fantastic colour combinations.
Metal: Aluminium, wrought-iron, stainless steel and powder-coated steel are the most common metal types for patio furniture. Aluminium can be expensive, but its modern and contemporary style makes it a popular material choice. If you’re worried about rusting, go for powder coated. Wrought iron is strong and durable but very heavy – so it’s always practical.
2. Comfort is king
If you invest in patio furniture that doesn’t offer a high level of comfort, chances are, you’re going to get fed up with it over time. Outdoor spaces should be a place to recoup. Make it a second living and entertaining room by utilising the same-styled furniture from inside, outside. This will offer ample amounts of comfort and help create a space that’s warm and inviting. Take the time to ensure your furniture options are comfy, rather than just rushing out to buy what looks good.
Fabric naturally makes patio furniture look and feel more comfortable and helps soften hard pieces. Search for fabrics that are designed for outdoor use, like solution-dyed acrylics. Cushions are a crucial part of a seating set, but can be the most expensive. If you want to cut costs, spun polyester with UV protective is good, but it isn’t resistant to fading. Plenty of cushions and throws will contribute to making the space feel relaxing too.
3. Weather report
Whilst most patio and pergola spaces offer roofing and shade, weather is still an essential consideration for furniture. Search for patio furniture that will be able to withstand the extreme climate conditions in your location. If you live near the coast or in areas where the weather is hotter and drier, this can be detrimental to some materials. Especially in Australia, climate changes can be drastic and sudden so choosing the right furniture with care is important for longevity.
4. Maintenance matters
Your outdoor living and entertaining area should be for relaxing, so the less time you spend on maintenance the better. Opt for patio furniture with low-maintenance properties. Each material responds to weather conditions differently and ultimately will affect the amount of TLC they need to keep them lasting longer. Timber furniture will need to be oiled and sealed to keep it looking fresh and increase its lifespan.
Most metals are notorious for rusting and corroding, so depending on your location aluminium or powder-coated metals would be more ideal. Aluminium in particular, is resistant to the sun and rust and simply needs a coat of wax to keep it looking new. Both aluminium and plastic furniture can be easily cleaned with soapy water too. Don’t forget even the toughest pieces of furniture will last longer if you can keep them in storage. When it’s not being used, keep key pieces out of the weather to add years to its lifespan.
5. Search for dual-purposes pieces
Long-lasting furniture is important, but is it hardworking too? Especially for smaller spaces, investing in pieces that double as something else is a practical choice. An ottoman is a prime example of a dual-purpose piece, as it can be used for extra seating too. Simple benches are great for a standalone seating feature, but can also be pushed up to an alfresco dining table for more seating space. Be smart about your patio furniture and you’ll be using it for years to come.
Outdoor furniture should be a natural extension of your indoor look and the homes architectural style. You want the space to essentially be a furnished indoor room – just outdoors, to get the maximum benefits from relaxing and dining outside.
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Great Aussie Patios – Perth’s leading patio builders with a unique design and cost-effective solution for any outdoor space. You can catch her on Google+.
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