These eight tips for selecting and buying outdoor furniture are all you need to know before you set out on your next shopping trip
7 things to remember when buying outdoor furniture
1. Remember to measure up
Planning and measuring is key. Choosing your outdoor furniture can be a big investment so it’s important to have an idea of your measurements and layout before you hit the shops.
The size of furniture can also be quite deceptive when it’s on display in a store, so before you go and fall in love with that long ‘loungey’ couch make sure you’re equipped with the exact measurements of your space. Think about the placement of the furniture, you don’t want your space to end up feeling too cluttered.
Finally, consider the orientation your garden, where do you get the sun the longest? Do you have a spot that’s sheltered from the wind or do you need to create one? Ask yourself practical questions about your garden to know what furniture will fit best.
2. Remember the three S’s for choosing outdoor furniture
The three S’s of outdoor furniture are: Structure, Size and Style. These essential elements are your guide to choosing outdoor furniture.
Structure is basically your outdoor layout and how the furniture you’re looking at will comfortably fit into it. Think about the configurations you can have the furniture in and how this impacts the flow between spaces. If you’ve found a piece you like, practice sitting in and moving around it, this will help you to get a gauge on how much space it could take up.
Size is self-explanatory; make sure you also consider height, especially if you’re looking at buying seats and tables separately. Have a browse online to find average sizes and measure it out at home first. This will help you to really visualise how much room some pieces will take up.
Style is the fun bit. The first two steps will help you determine the type of furniture that will work best, be it dining, lounging or bistro style. This last step is where you can get creative with the look and feel of your furniture. Wicker lounge sets create a resort style feel whereas aluminium sets have a more contemporary vibe. Use your indoor colour palette and furniture as a style guide but feel free to branch out a bit with your colour and pattern. The outdoors is the perfect place to get a little adventurous. You can easily dress up neutral furniture sets with bright cushions and squabs.
3. Remember to be sun safe
Protect yourself and your furniture from the harsh New Zealand sun. A shade sail or awning is an ideal solution, otherwise, a good sun umbrella and a couple of covers for your furniture are easy alternatives. If your garden gets a lot of sun make sure you consider the material your outdoor furniture will have. Dark colours can end up being too hot to sit on and poor quality wood can bleach and crack. Choose a pretty glass soap dispenser and fill it with sunscreen so your family and guests can always be sun safe outside.
4. Remember to define your space
Creating zones can make a small space feel bigger and will create cohesion. The easiest way to split your garden is to use colour, plants and different materials. Paving and decking are great long-term solutions.
If you have the room, defining the space for different activities will help you to utilise your garden more: create a little cocktail corner or a special space for the kids to play.
For little decks and patios, dressing up a corner with layers of plants, colour and accessories will help you achieve a feeling of depth.
5. Remember to keep warm
Stay warm and enjoy your garden when the sun dips and temperature drops. Having a stash of cosy blankets on hand is a budget-friendly way to keep warm in all weather. Match them to your feature colour for a cohesive look. Portable heaters, like electric radiant and gas bottle heaters, are also a simple solution for year-round warmth or create a real focal point with an outdoor fireplace.
6. Remember storage
Keep in mind when you’re shopping for your outdoor space that pillows, squabs, furniture covers and BBQ utensils all need a place to live. If your outdoor area is not undercover you’ll need somewhere to store your soft furnishings. Bench seats that double as storage are a popular solution and most retailers will have a cover you can buy for your furniture sets. If your home is small and lacking in indoor storage, however, it may best to steer away from soft lounge sets that can’t be left in the elements.
7. Remember that small touches create big results
Whether you’re planning a major backyard blitz or just want to brighten up your garden after a dreary winter, it’s important to remember that small touches can go a long way.
Lighting is an easy way to create ambience and boost the mood of your outdoor space. Festoon lights are right on trend and can be quite festive come Christmas time. Delicate tea lights are always an easy way to add a little twinkle to your garden, especially with so many sweet holders available. Pair a couple with a larger candle-lantern for a layered look.
Don’t forget the finishing touches. Like any room, the finishing touches tie your whole look together. Hang a mirror, add some fun outdoor pillows and choose a couple of little pots and fill with colourful annuals.
Words by: Lakshmi Krishnasamy.