Victorian Garden Tables With A Convenient Modern Twist

The image of the classic English garden is probably pretty familiar to you; well-kept hedges, colorful flowers, and whimsical stone paths, dotted with elegant wrought iron Victorian garden tables and chairs. It’s a scene that’s idyllic, pastoral, and (for better or worse) has shaped the American garden. Now, of course some Americans tend more toward decks, grills, and outdoor kitchens with bench seating. But if you love the look of that English garden with pretty lace-like tables for an afternoon tea, it’s easier than ever to get it without sacrificing modern convenience.

Wrought Iron Vs. Cast Aluminum

Historically speaking, Victorian garden tables are wrought iron. That is, all of those intricate loops swoops and curls were all made by hand and hammer. The result was beautiful, ornate, and very durable, but also extremely heavy and not exactly immune to rusting. Wrought iron garden tables won’t turn rust red. But over time, they can “bleed” rust that will stain your deck or patio. Modern tables, conversely, are more likely to be machine-made from extruded or cast aluminum. This material offers similarly beautiful designs, but is extremely lightweight, rust proof, and often powder coated to resemble wrought iron.

Better For Bad Weather

One of the biggest trends in outdoor furniture in general is a move towards more weather-resistant materials. Powder coated aluminum, resin wicker, and woods like teak that are naturally weather resistant are quickly becoming the norm. But for a set you leave out in your back yard year round, you really can’t beat aluminum. They require almost no care, and don’t even need to be covered in the off season. In fact, unless you live in an area with very polluted air or a salty seaward breeze, it should only need a simple wipe down with soapy water or diluted vinegar at the end of each season to keep it looking like brand new.

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All-Weather Cushions

Okay, I’ll admit: putting cushions on your fancy garden chair definitely isn’t a traditional move. But, if you plan to use them often, adding cushions can make the experience more enjoyable. Real Victorian garden tables and chairs lacked cushions because they were left outside in cold, rainy weather year-round. But if you’re looking for the perfect patio furniture, competition is stiff when it comes to comfort. Many manufacturers of all styles of outdoor furniture, including Victorian garden tables, are starting to use Sunbrella fabric for upholstery and cushions. This miracle fabric repels water, resists stains, mold, and fading, and is all around easy to care for. Traditional Victorian garden tables aren’t terribly comfortable; with Sunbrella cushions they’re definitely moreso, and add a nice pop of color to your garden set.

Tea For Two

If you don’t particularly need a lot of seating, you might want some more compact patio furniture. Small, two-seat Victorian garden tables are great for this, especially if you want to integrate seating into your garden. You can place sturdy cast or extruded aluminum furniture just about anywhere and leave it there year round. Plus, the loops and whorls of the design will add that touch of old world elegance to a blooming garden. Put the table in a spot of sunshine and you’ve got a lovely place to enjoy a cup of tea with a friend.

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Go For A Garden Party

That said, the most traditional Victorian garden tables usually seat four. Easily placed on a deck, patio, or  sun room, these tables are an elegant way to seat a small group. Adding cushions to the chairs makes the setup a little more colorful and comfortable. Models with a glass top covering the intricate tabletop can be better for regular dining; they have a smooth, stable surface for cups, plates, and flatware that’s also a little easier to clean.

Fun For The Whole Family

Most outdoor dining sets that seat six or more are, in my experience, usually made of wood, either in the style of indoor dining tables or more like park benches. But simple plank-style tables simply don’t have the flair and pizazz of Victorian garden tables. If you want to feed a crowd but keep the wrought-iron style, a larger set can give you the best of both worlds. The final look won’t be quite as petite and dainty as the traditional round tables. But it will give you style in spades and likely weather better than a wood table!