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Right Set, Right Space | How to Pick Outdoor Furniture

With the promise of warmer weather and longer days to spend in the garden. Now is the perfect time to think about how you want your outdoor space to work best for you.

Choosing outdoor garden furniture takes a little planning to ensure that not only does it suit your style, but it’s going to make the most of the space afford to you. Even if the space you have is minimal; a small patio, balcony or terrace, by selecting the right set, for the right space, you can make sure you’ll enjoy your garden furniture sets through spring, summer, and for years to come.

Read on for our three-part approach to selecting your set.

1. Find the Function

There are three main functions of outdoor furniture: dining, living and lounging. Dining, as it suggests, focuses on mealtimes and moments of entertaining with food. Living is an extension of your space, an outdoor lounge that transitions or flows from your indoor rooms. Whilst lounging is all about relaxation. By the pool. In the sunshine. Laidback enjoyment.

To help you choose your garden furniture, think carefully on how you’d like to use your space most. If your garden is large enough, you may be able to give more than one area over to furniture with a specific function. However, if you have a cottage garden or a slimline balcony, it’s likely that you will need to prioritise the one usage that works the best for your lifestyle.

2. Pick for the People

If your garden is primarily where you enjoy a cup of afternoon tea or your morning coffee and toast, and you favour quieter, peaceful moments over parties and big bbqs, a bistro set might be the right choice for you. Small, lightweight and sturdy, they are ideal for one or two people to share lighter lunches and brunches and can be easily moved to follow the sun’s path around the garden, from early morning rays to fading light of sunset.

Likewise, your garden may be a sanctuary, all your very own. Somewhere for pruning, weeding and getting lost in the routine and reassuring tasks which offer great reward when they’re done. A cocoon chair creates a restful spot, to enjoy the benefits of your hard work, when the job list is complete. 

If you have a larger family, or enjoy entertaining groups on a regular basis, it’s unlikely that a bistro or cocoon chair will accommodate everyone and make them feel welcome. A large outdoor sofa set or dining sets have multiple seating options and are made for collective moments. Some even come with integrated fire pits to extend those gatherings and suppers late into the evening.

3. Match the Materials

When investing in garden furniture, it’s hugely important to consider how the materials you choose will stand the test of time. First and foremost, the quality must be of the highest standard, and designed specifically for purpose. 

Look for more innovative materials that have been specifically created to offset some of the damaging aspects of the elements. Season-proof cushions won’t take on rainwater and become mouldy. Weatherproof fabric is quick drying and UV-resistant so won’t fade. And Tree-Free tabletops are designed to look like wood, but are, in fact, made from a durable and long-lasting high impact polystyrene, so will remain in good condition for much longer.

Rattan is the traditional material for garden furniture, but much has changed since it was first introduced. These days, outdoor furniture is more likely to be PE rattan which is synthetic and much more long-lasting.  It can be left out all year round and requires very little maintenance beyond a good clean come spring. Still hand woven into its classic design it’s hard to beat as a stylish, garden staple.

With its overall sleekness and squarer lines, aluminium garden furniture is often considered to be the more contemporary option, and this modern material comes with the benefits of being rust-free, lightweight and easy to maintain. Often darker in tone than its rattan furniture counterparts, it’s a good choice for a contrast to its intended setting, rather than to coordinate, and as some sets come with module components it’s easier to change up for different times of day or occasions.

Regardless of style think about how much you will need to take care of your furniture based on the material you pick. If you want the option to it leave out all year round. Whether you’re happy to buy a cover if it means less moving furniture in and out of storage. Or if you have space to store cushions separately as some sets require. The answers to these questions will help guide which material is best suited to your needs.

By planning with function, people and material in mind, you can ensure you pick the right set, for the right space.