How to Choose Your Outdoor Furniture

by Editor on September 6, 2013

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First-time homeowners usually focus on the basics when outfitting their new living spaces: Kitchen, bedroom and living room furniture will need to be purchased quickly to make life comfortable. However, eventually you’ll want to think about the outdoor areas as well. To be properly enjoyed, a beautiful backyard needs sturdy yet stylish furniture so you have somewhere to rest outside. Buying the best outdoor furniture requires a little bit of know-how and research. Keep reading for some helpful ideas.

Consider Your Climate

Of course, weather will have a big impact on how and when you can enjoy your outdoor spaces. If you live somewhere with a lot of rainfall or days of hot sunshine, you may consider installing deck awnings along the sides of your house. These will protect you and your outdoor furniture from the elements and prolong the amount of time you can spend enjoying your backyard. Also, some materials, such as glass or ceramics, may crack if left outside in widely fluctuating temperatures, so you’ll need to research what furniture materials are best for your climate.

Consider Your Space

Just as you will when buying furniture for your bedroom or living room, you’ll need to take a critical eye to your outdoor living space — and probably a tape measure too. Even a big backyard can be made small by oversized furniture, and you’d hate to find what you thought was the perfect piece only to get home and realize that it doesn’t suit the space you’re going to put it in.

Weigh Comfort Versus Design

The very best outdoor furniture for your home will be pieces that catch your eye while still being comfortable enough to be functional. Victorian-style wrought-iron tea tables with matching stools are lovely for certain gardens, but if you know you’ll want to have picnics there, or help your children do their homework outside, you may find that they’re not the best for sitting for long periods or for writing.

You’ll also need to estimate how many people you’d like to accommodate in your backyard area and what kind of furniture they’ll be most comfortable using. For example, if you know you’ll be hosting potluck dinners with a few other families from your block, you might think about getting a picnic-style table or other large table that will be able to meet your needs. And, if you know that only one person in the household enjoys sunbathing, you probably won’t need two lounge chairs.

Choose Materials Carefully

As we mentioned above, climate will have a role in what materials you choose for your outdoor furniture. However, you should also consider sturdiness, the amount of wear and tear you expect on the furniture, and safety aspects. If you live in a mild climate, you will probably be able to use furniture made from light materials for several years. But, if you plan on leaving your furniture outdoors during heavy snowfall or harsh winters, you’ll need to have sturdy, well-built furniture that you won’t have to replace often. Also, parents buying outdoor furniture should make sure the pieces they buy can’t accidentally hurt children with sharp edges or splinters. On the other hand, more fragile pieces, such as mosaic-tile-topped tables or bamboo chairs, may not stand up to heavy use by energetic children.

Ask Yourself if the Pieces Are Well Made

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of garden and patio furniture on the market that is made mostly for ornamentation and not for daily use. If you plan on using your outdoor areas frequently — as you should — you’ll want to make sure that the pieces of furniture you buy are well made so you won’t need to waste money purchasing replacements or refinishing items that no longer look their best. If you’re buying furniture that requires home assembly, be sure to check display models carefully. These pieces may be vulnerable to warping at the joints, or rusting at the fasteners, especially when exposed to moisture.

About the Author

Miekele Lee enjoys all aspects of home design and is especially interested in what homeowners envision for their outdoor areas. A professional landscaper, she also offers her clients advice and support on making the perfect outdoor living areas.

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