Homestyle: Everything you need to consider before buying garden furniture – if you want to do it right
As SPRING approaches, you may want to invest in new patio furniture to spruce up your patio, improve outdoor entertaining opportunities, or simply create a place to relax and admire your plants.
But there are so many considerations, from where you’re going to put a new set of garden furniture, to functionality, comfort, style and storage requirements.
“Choosing outdoor furniture can surprisingly involve greater consideration than buying indoor furniture; it may need to offer more versatility than, say, a kitchen table or a sofa for your living room,” says Tim Pennell, sales manager at outdoor furniture specialist Bramblecrest (bramblecrest.com).
“You need to look at your outdoor space and identify an area where you are most likely to want to spend time and ask yourself questions like: how will the furniture be used? Does proximity to home matter? Do you want full sun?
Measure your space:
Measure your available space and consider how much you want to furnish. You’ll need enough space for you and your guests to relax comfortably and allow easy movement of people around the set, advises Pennell.
“Be careful not to overcrowd or undercrowd a terrace – you may want to keep an area clear for other accessories such as planters and lanterns. Corner sofas make efficient use of space and can be paired with versatile double-height tables (which can be positioned at dining table and coffee table height) or a fire pit table that can be used as a dining table.
“If you want to find an ‘escape’ place in your garden where you can enjoy a few moments of calm, smaller pieces of furniture – cocoon, bench or bistro set – are perfect for this.
Take care of small areas
“If you’re working with a small outdoor space, there’s still a lot you can do to make the most of it. Some smart, compact furniture will help maximize the full potential of your garden, creating your own urban retreat,” says Nadia McCowan Hill, resident style advisor at home retailer Wayfair (wayfair.co.uk).
“For balconies, pull-down metal bistro sets offer flexibility – they can be easily stored and are a lightweight, contemporary choice. There are many styles and colors to choose from. A bold, bright hue will instantly elevate a dull space and inject personality.
Ella Broughton, Product Manager at Moda Furnishings (modafurnishings.co.uk), adds: “For tight spaces, multifunctional high tables are a great space-saving solution so you can easily go from morning coffee to dinner.”
Don’t be afraid to make big statements, continues McCowan Hill.
“In a courtyard garden, rather than trying to fill the space with a few pieces of furniture, a larger piece that fills the area can actually make it appear larger.
“A comfy corner sofa will turn a cramped space into another room in your home for entertaining and relaxing. Choose a weather-resistant frame with removable cushions that can be easily stored inside if you don’t have space to move furniture around in a garage or shed during colder months.
“An outdoor corner sofa is the perfect foundation for creating a cozy oasis – adding solar swag lighting, cushions, throws and a fireplace to maximize time spent in your garden after the sun goes down.”
Sun or shade?
Pennell says, “Be aware of perspective and how the orientation of your furniture can maximize a good view or face an unsightly area.
“Consider the direction of the sun – allow space for a cantilever umbrella if you need to add shade in a sunny location. If you take pride in your lawn, you may prefer -be placing your furniture on a deck or patio to prevent furniture legs from puncturing the grass.
Note where the sun rises and sets. If you want morning and evening sun, you may need to invest in a few sets or be prepared to move some furniture around depending on the time of day.
Broughton adds, “Accessorizing the space with smart lighting and heating means that whether you’re in a shady spot or enjoying the evening, your furniture can still be used.”
Also consider planting fragrant evening plants such as stock and nicotiana in pots nearby to enjoy during the summer months, or grow roses and lavender around a garden bench in the corner hidden from your plot.
Dining or lounging?
Are you considering whether your garden is a place where you want to sit for a quick coffee before work or a glass of wine at sunset, or do you plan to do a lot of entertaining? Do you just want a comfortable space to relax with the family or are you planning dinner parties, barbecues and more elaborate meals?
Outdoor furniture retailers can do both, but make sure you have a good idea of what you want before you spend thousands on what you don’t want.
Environmental concerns shape the way many outdoor furniture companies work – many earning Planet Mark certification (an internationally recognized sustainability certification) by measuring and reducing their carbon footprint.
“Many sofas, chairs and benches have cushion covers woven with yarn made from recycled bottles – these soft-touch cushions retain the stain-resistant and weather-proof qualities required for large spaces,” observes Pennell.
“Synthetic rattan furniture is made from a high quality recyclable polyethylene – it is extremely durable and will stand the test of time. Likewise, aluminum furniture is 100% recyclable and does not lose any quality over time. during the process – a high percentage of all aluminum ever produced is still in use.
The timeless and sturdy qualities of teak are why it remains a popular choice for garden furniture, he continues. It contains high levels of oil making it weather resistant and able to withstand exposure to the variable UK climate.
Don’t forget the storage
Make sure you have storage space to house your cushions, whether in a shed, garage or indoors. Do you have room for a storage box outside? All of this should be taken into consideration before buying.