Key To Selecting Outdoor Furniture That Lasts
During the warmer months, a home’s outdoor space acts as an extension of its interior – we read, relax, entertain and dine on the patio. So, of course, it should be every bit as stylish and functional as the rest of your living space. The big caveat here is that when decorating the indoors, the weather and its effect on furnishings, décor elements and area rugs is a non-issue. Out beside the pool or garden is another story entirely. Items out there need to not only look great but also endure whatever Mother Nature (or the family dog) throws its way.
Made to withstand the sun, wind and rain, outdoor furniture is always your best bet. It does tend to be more expensive than its indoor counterparts. However, this is one of those times when it’s best to heed the advice of our designer Jill Mitchell and go for quality, purpose-made pieces. Instead of having to replace them every year or so, you’ll save in the end by choosing furniture that weathers well for years to come.
Speaking of weathering, the fabrication of your outdoor furniture has a lot to do with its longevity. The following are our top picks for contemporary homes:
Considered one of the best outdoor woods, teak has a lot of staying power. That said, over time, teak naturally takes a silvery look; for many, that weathered silver is lovely. For those that prefer teak in its golden brown state, consider sealing the wood. However, that means a degree of annual maintenance, so be sure to explore your options before committing. Another teak outdoor furniture tip: make sure the screws that hold it together are stainless steel – they won’t rust.
Though this time-honored outdoor furniture material ages beautifully, moisture and rain can get the best of it. Make sure the iron pieces you choose have powder-coated, UV-resistant finishes, and that they are stashed someplace dry (such as your garage) during the winter. When you make your purchase, buy some touch-up paint so you can keep your pieces looking fresh.
Wicker’s woven texture feels so right beside the pool. Plus it’s generally lightweight, which enables you to move things around. Look for wicker outdoor furniture with a structural base of rust-proof material, such as aluminum. To ensure your wicker pieces last for several seasons, Jill recommends using outdoor furniture covers to prevent damage from the sun and rain.
Lightweight, available in myriad colors and easy to maintain, aluminum outdoor furniture is built to last. That said, like cashmere, there’s good quality and the kind that won’t wear well. As with wrought iron, seek powder-coated, UV-resistant aluminum furniture, and look for pieces that feel more substantial when shopping. Those that are a lighter weight and rattle with every move are commonly of a lower quality.
Once you’ve chosen what type of outdoor furniture suits your needs and style, it’s on to the fun part – cushions! Roseli Kim, our Senior Designer and Brand Manager, advises steering clear of bright white cushions because you’ll end up washing them more often than you’d like. Instead, opt for off-whites, ivories, pale grays, patterns or colors. Keep in mind that any outdoor pillows or cushions you choose should be weather-resistant, possess a high UV rating, and allow water to drain quickly so as to prevent mildew.
Before committing, evaluate practicality as you would with indoor furnishings. Check to make sure chaises aren’t too low and encourage lounging. Tuck chairs beneath tables to see if they’re easy to move and that the armrests don’t get in the way. Sit at the table and make sure you’re not constantly kicking its legs. Slide into one of the bar chairs that come with the bistro set and note whether the proportions perch you at an awkward height. In short, no matter how well made, outdoor furniture that isn’t comfortable or easy to maneuver won’t last long because you’ll end up replacing it with pieces that are.
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