Thinking about overhauling your patio but not quite sure what direction to take it in? There are a lot of choices out there, and it can be a little overwhelming to try to find outdoor furniture that matches your home, your outdoor space, and your entertaining style. This quick and easy patio furniture style guide will take you through the basics, and hopefully give you a few ideas for where to start.
One of the most traditional types of outdoor furniture is the ornate wrought iron bench. Right at home in blooming gardens and whimsical pathways, beautiful patterned metal benches, seats, and tables are perfect for people with a lot of lovely landscaping and an entertainment style that focuses on lazy afternoons rather than late night soirees. Many modern interpretations imitate this old world style, but are made of powder coated cast aluminum. Aluminum is much lighter than wrought iron, less expensive, and won’t rust. Many also have colorful, weather-resistant cushions – which is a little more comfortable than the old fashioned way!
Casual But Classy
Wood is another extremely popular material for outdoor furniture. From picnic benches to the iconic Adirondack chair, planked wood is a logical choice for your deck. Wood seating and tables are comfortable, homey, and just a little rustic – perfect for that casual, outdoorsey feel. That said, choosing the right materials is crucial if you want to maximize the durability of your set. If you hate splinters and warped, faded wood, opt for furniture made out of dense, tropical wood like teak or Ipa. Both are naturally weather resistant, and will stand up to aging much better than almost any other type of wood. To save space, look for sets with chairs that stack or fold, and tables with removable inserts. Stowable outdoor furniture is much easier to protect in the winter, which can also keep it in good shape longer.
Cottage Wicker Patio Furniture
For a quaint, homey look that’s a little more inviting (and comfortable) than wrought iron, you can’t beat wicker. The woven material is iconic cottage style, and perfect for creating a timeless lounge space – great for a sunny brick or stone patio, or even an enclosed porch. Be aware, though, that natural wicker and rattan can be both expensive and fussy to care for. Natural wicker is extremely susceptible to harsh weather conditions, and will become brittle and crack over time. If you love the look, but want to skip the maintenance, opt for synthetic wicker instead. These have a rust-proof aluminum framing rather than a wood core, and are covered in and weather resistant resin wicker (which looks just like the real thing, but wont crack or fade).
Modern patio furniture is starting to become hugely popular. With simple, sleek lines and subtle but stylish designs, modern patio furniture is easy to like, easy to place, and easy to sit on. Modern patio furniture is also often modular in design; you can even frequently buy them in individual pieces as well as larger sets. That makes it easy to accommodate a larger space and get a little more creative with your design. Whether you’re shopping for uniquely shaped individual pieces or just want to build a set that conforms perfectly to your outdoor space, modular sets are an affordable alternative to pricy built-in outdoor furniture. Plus, a modern design will give your patio a sleek, sophisticated finish without a lot of ornamentation. That’s doubly good if you like to do a lot of your own accessorizing.
Retro Patio Furniture
Retro patio furniture is also starting to make a comeback. Especially with the wealth of new rust-resistant and weatherproof materials, old styles are finding new life in longer-lasting forms. From wire chairs to brightly colored clear plastic patio furniture, it’s easier than you might think to get a groovy, throwback style for your patio. A nice bonus? Many of these pieces are stackable and stowable, but a whole lot more stylish than your average plastic patio chair.
Island Resort Inspired
If you spend a lot of time poolside, or if your dream vacation is a fancy hotel with a big pool and a view of the Caribbean, this is the patio furniture for you. Often these are fairly modern in design, using synthetic wicker in dark colors and thick white padding. But instead of chairs or tables, we’re talking lounges, chaises, and outdoor beds. I particularly like ones with that provide a little shade, either a canopy or a huge umbrella. You can also find ones with adjustable seats and storage underneath for all your spare towels – perfect for lounging, tanning, or just soaking up the summer.
Space Saving Patio Furniture
In one sense, choosing compact or collapsible patio furniture is more of a practical choice than a stylistic one. But space saving outdoor furniture does have its own flair – especially when you get into the more creative designs. Stackable plastic chairs are one thing, but you can find options that are a lot more fun. One common option is a nesting dining set. Like stacking dolls, this whole set nests inside itself – ottomans inside the chairs and chairs perfectly underneath the table. When you’re not using them, you can push the whole thing together, leaving a resin wicker cube with a tempered glass table top. When you have guests, you can pull all the pieces apart and have seating for four (or eight, if you use the ottomans as chairs!).
No matter the size or style of your outdoor space, make the most of it by choosing fun, innovative furniture designs to give your space some character. Knowing what you want to do when you’re outside and the style of furniture you like is the first big step in getting a set that looks great, works well, and that you’ll love to use for years to come.