Outdoor furnishings receive a lot of wear and tear, so look for fabrics that are able to withstand the elements. Photo Credit: Sunbrella® Fabrics
Many Options Available
While aluminum furniture is the most popular choice among consumers, there are many other options. Always consider how the outdoor space needs to function.
Shopping for Outdoor Furniture
You'll find a range of options available in the hottest new outdoor furnishings.
- by Cindy Hodnett
The outdoor living space has become one of the most popular features of the 21st century home, and many homeowners are looking at their patio, porches and decks with newfound appreciation. However, the choices for outdoor furnishings are vast, and industry experts say that figuring out which items to buy involves careful consideration of budget, quality and function.
Comfort Is Key
“The first thing anyone should start with when buying outdoor furnishings is comfort and how they want to use the space,” says Jerry Smith of Patio & Hearth Shoppes. “A lot of people go out and buy dining furniture, but most people don’t use their outdoor space for dining–they use it for lounging. So they should look for deep cushions and comfortable seats.”
Outdoor furnishings receive a lot of wear and tear, so look for fabrics that are able to withstand the elements. Smith suggests Sunbrella fabrics, which are durable and easily cleaned with Clorox.
“Conversation groups are very popular,” Smith explains. “These groups can include a lower table and four comfortable chairs—and often rocking or motion chairs. A lot of people will also include a fire pit in the outdoor area, and now, you can even buy gas fire pits. Most manufacturers make coordinated groups of furnishings."
“Another trend is the outdoor kitchen,” Smith continues. “They will usually include a grill, refrigerator and sink, and they can be pre-made or custom designs."
Josh Rowell of Casual Furniture World encourages consumers to treat outdoor square footage as an extension of the interior living space. “Laying out an outdoor area should be thought of just as an indoor room,” he says. “More often than not, some type of cooking area comes into play, and as in many newer homes, the kitchen often flows to the gathering room."
This same thought should be applied to the outdoor living space. The person at the grill is going to want to be able to have conversation with everyone else while preparing the meal. A dining space should be designed to accommodate the usual number of guests, with sometimes a few extras. “Seating in an outdoor area should be set so that the focus is on others,” Rowell says. “This is a large reason fire pits and ‘chat’ height tables have become so popular.”
Purchasing Outdoor Furniture
Like Smith, Rowell suggests that consumers begin the purchasing process with a retailer specializing in outdoor furnishings. “Customization and selection play a large part of most outdoor living specialty stores,” he explains. “Consumers should ask themselves how long they want to have the furniture, how concerned they are with the furnishings fitting their space and what amount they are willing to spend to achieve this."