Our Houston Interior Designers Share Tips for Buying Outdoor Furniture This Summer
Summer brings the gift of longer days spent relaxing poolside, dining al fresco, and gathering with the family around the firepit for s’mores. However, if you don’t know how to choose the right outdoor furniture for your backyard, you might miss the opportunity to enjoy the season to its fullest. Here at our Houston interior design firm, we have what can sometimes feel like a year-round summer. Through the years, we’ve gathered a few tips for buying outdoor furniture to maximize our clients’ backyards. Our Principal Designer, Pamela O’Brien, was recently asked to give some advice on the best outdoor tables for The Spruce, which got us thinking about the rest of the furnishings needed for a livable backyard. So, we decided to share exactly what you need to know before buying outdoor furniture.
Here’s How to Choose the Right Outdoor Furniture for Your Backyard
Before you head to the showroom, take time to learn the dos and don’ts of outdoor furniture. Here are the top factors to keep in mind to ensure you choose the right pieces.
Think About Your Outdoor Space as a Room
Think of your dream backyard as another room of your home. You wouldn’t fill an entire room with pool loungers — although it is nice to have a few! Before purchasing outdoor furniture, consider the size of your outdoor space and how you’d like to use it. Divide the patio into zones for living, dining, and relaxation, including items like outdoor sofas, chairs, side tables, and dining tables. Finish off the patio with an outdoor rug, accessories, and lighting just as you would an interior room.
Evaluate Material Options
Outdoor furniture material options include metal, coated metal, plastic, UV-resistant fabrics, wood, cement, wicker, and even ceramic. Choosing the right fit comes down to weather resistance and patina preferences, as each material will respond differently to the elements. For example, teak will go from a warm golden brown to a grayed appearance over time. However, we find it quite charming, and well-crafted teak pieces can last over 20 years. As you may have guessed, fabrics are the most susceptible to outdoor wear. So, look for durable options made to withstand sun and water exposure. Sunbrella has a wide selection of solution-dyed acrylic fabrics made for fun in the sun.
Assess Your Climate
Your climate will affect what type of furnishings and materials you should select. We can enjoy outdoor living spaces in Houston almost year-round. So it’s a practical investment to furnish our outdoor spaces with solid and comfortable pieces. However, if you live in a cold climate with snowy winters, you may want to select lightweight furniture that can be easily moved and stored during the off-season. Think about when and how you will use your outdoor furniture through every season of the year, not just summer.
Consider Maintenance Needs
No one wants to welcome guests to a dirty patio with tattered cushions and rusty chairs. Familiarize yourself with maintenance requirements before purchasing your new outdoor furniture. Some materials are more weather resistant than others. Typically teak, iron, and aluminum make for low-maintenance and sturdy options. We also recommend adding your patio space to your home cleaning routine and taking time before the season to oil wood, touch up paint, and wash cushions before the backyard party invitations go out.
Coordinate with Interior Furnishings
Your outdoor living space is an extension of your interior. As such, it should coordinate with your overall design style and color palette to establish indoor-outdoor flow. Play off of interior color and pattern selections through outdoor rugs, pillows, and other accessories. Additionally, carrying the same tile from your interior to your patio and adding panoramic sliding glass doors will create the illusion of one expansive (and cohesive) living space.
Conduct the Sit Test
In other words, try before you buy. If you want to truly maximize your outdoor time this summer, you need comfortable outdoor furnishings. There’s a balance to achieve between comfort and maintenance. We’d all much rather sit on a cushioned lounge chair than a concrete bench, after all! While plush outdoor pieces might require some additional cleaning and maintenance, it will be worth it to have a cozy and inviting extension of your home.
Address Storage Needs
Addressing your outdoor storage needs is the secret to keeping your backyard mess-free. A lot of stuff goes into summer, from pool floats to umbrellas to grilling accessories. Keep everything organized and out of sight with outdoor closets, sheds, and trucks that double as seating. Additionally, you’ll want to have accessible storage for any furniture covers and removable cushions to protect your outdoor furniture when not in use.
Invest in Quality Pieces
Some homeowners may be surprised to find that quality outdoor furniture can cost just as much as (if not more than) interior furnishings. As stewards of our clients’ investments, we advise staying clear of cheap pieces that will need to be replaced every summer. In the end, this low-budget strategy will cost you more money and time over the years. Instead, invest in quality pieces that are built to last. Remember to look for sturdy wood or metal construction and performance fabrics made to weather the outdoors.
Soak Up the Sun and Enjoy Your Backyard Design
Get ready to have some fun in the sun this season while you enjoy your refreshed backyard space with a spritz in hand. If you need additional guidance designing your space, our Houston interior design firm can help. We have you covered, from patio hardscapes to finishing accessories. Schedule a consultation today to get started, and don’t forget to invite us to your summer soiree!