Outdoor furniture ideas – 10 ways to brighten up a paved space

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  • In the summer months, a terrace quickly becomes an extension of your living space. So it makes sense that you should think about your patio furniture ideas just as much as you think about your interior design choices.

    After all, they have the potential to transform not just the space itself, but the way you use it on a daily basis – outdoor living rooms, anyone? Whether your backyard has an expansive flagstone patio, a gravel stepped patio, or a bijoux balcony, the right patio ideas will transform it into an inviting outdoor area where you’ll want to spend time.

    When it comes to planning your patio furniture ideas, Lou Peterson, Head of Design at DFS, recommends that you start by visualizing how you would like your outdoor space to be used. “Whether it’s for entertaining with friends, dining with family, or as a retreat to relax and read a book in solitude, once you’ve established that, your furniture choices will be consistent—they’ll be the centerpiece of your patio area,” she says.

    Garden furniture ideas

    The best garden furniture ideas combine comfort and style. From compact bistro sets and built-in benches to expansive outdoor sofas, seating and surfaces are usually the focus, so start there. Consider the space you have and the number of people you want to accommodate. Then on to home comforts.

    “Once you’ve chosen your patio furniture, you can complete the look with carefully chosen accessories. Soft throws, rugs, throw pillows, candles and plants help transform a patio area into a beautiful oasis and ensure it’s a space you’ll want to stay in long after the sun goes down,” says Lou.

    Don’t forget the practicalities too – investing in all-weather designs along with great garden lighting, shade and outdoor heaters or fire pits will ensure you can enjoy your patio area all year round.

    1. Dine in style – with room for everyone

    Photo credit: Garden Trading

    If you have a large family to feed or are a fan of entertaining, it pays to invest in a spacious table to take full advantage of your outdoor patio space. If you plan on leaving your patio furniture all year round, sturdy designs are a must.

    This sturdy table has a fiber cement top that is weatherproof and stylish. For casual dining, use benches instead of chairs to ensure everyone, including little ones, has a seat.

    2. Save space with a neat bistro set

    Bistro set in patio area with horizontal wooden fence

    Photo credit: Future Publishing Ltd

    Pretty yet compact, a bistro set is a brilliant idea for a small patio. Chunky, rectangular dining sets might look inviting, but it’s no use if you can’t pull out the chairs! Round tables take up less space and are a good choice for creating an intimate, convivial atmosphere.

    “Bistro sets are often foldable or stackable, so you can enjoy a table for two when you need it and more space when you don’t,” say Homebase’s experts. “For those occasions when you know you’re inviting more guests, it pays to invest in lightweight, foldable chairs that are easy to store when not in use.”

    Creating defined zones can be tricky when you’re dealing with a small outdoor space, but planters have been used here to separate the seating area from the rest of the patio – a neat little trick.

    3. Set up a secluded chill-out area

    Decking area with rattan chair surrounded by plants

    Photo credit: Future Publishing Ltd

    Positioning a chair among the plants brings a cozy reading nook with all the added benefits of being in nature. Go for an eye-catching design that’s as comfortable as it is stylish, like this floral-inspired rattan effect chair.

    Relaxed shapes and flexible weaves are preferable to hard wood or metal, but you can always add cushions for comfort if needed. Keep a blanket nearby to snuggle under when the sun goes down.

    When choosing colors for your patio decoration ideas, opt for shades that complement the greenery of your garden. An evolution of terracotta pots, eye-catching planters are a great way to introduce a pattern – soft pink, gray and green create an eye-catching scheme.

    4. Hang out in a trendy egg chair

    stylish patio area with wicker side table and hanging egg chair

    Photo credit: Future Publishing Ltd

    If you’re looking for a touch of luxury, a swinging nest chair deserves a spot on your patio. Stylish, comfy and totally Instagrammable, friends will be asking who gets to sit in it, that’s for sure.

    If you choose an open web design, you can see straight into the garden beyond. Provided, of course, that a closed design has the benefit of hiding anything unsightly – think an ugly fence or a weather-beaten shed, for example!

    5. Cast some shade with a party-worthy parasol

    Parasol and round table on a terrace

    Photo credit: Future Publishing Ltd

    If your patio area lacks natural shade, invest in a parasol to provide shelter on hot (or rainy) days. You don’t have to break the bank for a stylish patio canopy either – you can turn a simple canvas design into the perfect centerpiece for a party by attaching ties at each point and wrapping the pole with colorful washi tape.

    6. Add a pop of color with eco-friendly plastic

    pink green and yellow plastic patio chairs around a table

    Photo credit: Lifestyle Garden

    If your outdoor space is lacking in vibrant plants and flowers, plastic patio furniture is a great way to introduce color. Whenever possible, choose furniture made from recycled plastic – not only is it better for the environment, but it’s also durable and easy to maintain, so it’s good for you too.

    These pretty pastel colored chairs are made from recycled bottles. Mix and match shades for a summery scheme.

    7. Enjoy relaxed lounging

    Decking area with fire pit and lounge chairs with festoon lights

    Photo credit: Garden Trading

    Gather lounge chairs around a fire pit for the ultimate festival atmosphere on a summer evening. You don’t feel like you have to stick to just one chair style – opting for different materials and fabrics creates a fun, eclectic feel.

    Encourage relaxed lounging with a few floor pillows and cozy blankets, too. A fireplace provides warmth until late in the evening. So, having some patio lighting ideas on hand means you don’t have to retreat indoors when the sun goes down.

    Draping strings of lights around trees, poles or a pergola is a clever way to define your chill-out zone and illuminate it at nightfall, while candles in lanterns create a magical ambiance.

    8. Install seating

    Terrace with built in seating and table

    Photo credit: Future Publishing Ltd

    Built-in corner seating utilizes every inch of space, providing ample space for larger gatherings. This L-shaped design has been constructed from the same bricks as the wall behind, making the space appear larger and adding a nice flow feel.

    If you choose the bespoke route, consider installing benches with lids to store outdoor cushions, toys, and accessories.

    9. Reserve a shady spot

    Wooden gazebo creates a shady place in the patio

    Photo credit: Future Publishing Ltd

    If you have the space, a corner-style arbor creates a peaceful patio canopy, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors come rain or shine. Give it a modern update by painting in bold hues or gluing to wood for a more traditional feel.

    You can always add colorful outdoor cushions if you want a pop of color, and they make for a more comfortable seating experience too – bonus.

    10. Create an outdoor living room

    Outdoor living room on a patio with modern monochromatic paving

    Photo credit: Future Publishing Ltd

    Continue your indoor style outside by accessorizing your terrace with indoor furniture and accessories such as armchairs, candles and cushions. As in a living room, you can group furniture closely and position seating within easy reach of a side table to create a sociable and stylish outdoor lounge.

    Collaborate with your patio paving ideas by abandoning dull slabs in favor of an on-trend plain patterned tile, or adding a colorful outdoor rug underfoot to complete the cozy living room look.

    Does garden furniture need to be covered?

    It’s sometimes hard to tell what you’re going to get weather wise and when you’re going to get it by the way! Hailstorm in summer? It is known!

    While weatherproof surfaces are designed to withstand such conditions, experts advise covering your patio furniture when not in use to keep it in top condition for as long as possible.

    “During the warmer months, furniture should be covered to protect it from garden debris and to keep it as clean as possible. Ideally, cushions should be placed in a dry area, but if that’s not possible, cover your furniture with the cushions, but check weekly for condensation,” says Tim Pennell, sales manager at Bramblecrest.

    Which garden furniture lasts the longest?

    Most patio furniture is designed to last, but some materials are more likely to keep their good looks longer. If you prefer wooden outdoor furniture, Tim Pennell recommends opting for hardwoods like teak.

    “Teak is an inherently good looking material and contains a high oil content, making it waterproof and able to withstand the variable British climate,” says Tim. Acacia has similar advantages, but is cheaper than teak and also more sustainable.

    The most common metals used in outdoor furniture are steel, wrought iron and aluminum. The latter is the best option in terms of longevity as it is inherently rust-resistant, which is why it is worth looking out for aluminum-framed furniture.

    Most “rattan” garden furniture we see today is actually a plastic polymer – referred to as “all-weather rattan” by most manufacturers. While the natural variant isn’t the best in terms of durability, this synthetic alternative can be left out all seasons and looks just as stylish – and it’s usually cheaper than wood.

    As with indoor furniture, you have to be prepared for wear and tear. However, investing in quality materials and taking care of your patio furniture – and giving it the best possible protection from the elements – are the best ways to ensure it will stand the test of time.

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