The most important factor in choosing your outdoor furniture isn’t appearance, cost, or durability – it’s how you want to unwind. Of course, the layout of your yard, garden, deck, or patio will influence the kind of furniture you can have. But the type of seating you end up with will really define the way you use the space. So before you start comparison shopping, its important to ask yourself: what do you and your family and friends actually want to do when you spend time outside?
Are You A BBQ And Cookout Type?
If you want to use your outdoor space to host big food-fests, you need two things: seating and table space. That can mean anything from a picnic bench to a full outdoor dining set, but will involve a big table. Keep in mind both how many people you typically host and the highest number of people you’ll end up feeding. Look for an outdoor dining set that accommodates those numbers. Doesn’t matter if it’s a small, intimate setup for your family or one designed to expand in table length and seating to accommodate a bigger crowd as needed; what’s important is that it fits the way you’ll use it.
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Or A Sit Around And Chat Type?
Not big on the cookout culture? If you spend most of your time outside chatting with friends and soaking up the sun, a centralized table might be a poor fit. Big tables take up a lot of space, and often don’t encourage group conversation. Instead, look for comfortable, low-lying seating sets that come paired with a coffee table or a few end tables. That way, you have enough surface space for drinks or snacks, without the rigid, food-oriented seating you’d get from a more traditional dining set. Here, too, be sure to plan for how many people you expect to host; small, intimate seating sets have a very different feel than big, sprawling sectionals.
A Little Bit Of Both?
If choosing between those first two options is hard and you don’t have room for both, don’t worry; you aren’t totally out of luck. Outdoor seating options that combine the best of both worlds aren’t as rare as you might think. Nesting dining sets are a particular favorite of mine. They tend to be a little lower-sitting than most regular outdoor dining sets; their cushiony backs and seats make them much more comfortable for long-term sitting. The “nesting” part comes in the form of padded ottomans. On the one hand, these can be completely concealed underneath the chairs when you don’t need them; on the other, you can convert them into extra seating for the table or ottomans for the chairs if you and your guests want to get a little comfier.
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Are You A Poolside Lounger?
Don’t like to enjoy your outdoor spaces with a big group, and just want to work on your tan? In that case, you want an entirely different type of outdoor furniture. Whether or not you have a pool, long, adjustable lounge chairs will enable you to stretch out, get comfortable, and soak up that beautiful summer sunshine. That said, the material you choose will depend on whether or not you have a pool. Most cushiony, upholstered loungers don’t play well with chlorine; if you want to have your cake and eat it, too, you’ll need to look for color-fast, mildew-resistant fabrics like Sunbrella. Alternatively, some more durable, cushion-free loungers can even stand up to being placed in the shallow end of your pool!
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….Who Sometimes Wants To Have Guests?
Don’t like the idea of nixing traditional seating entirely? This is another area where you can find some comfy middle ground. Outdoor beds are a nice alternative to traditional poolside loungers (and provide sun protection if you want to sleep outside!). If you do a little digging, you can find ones that are modular in design. That is, rather than having a single solid “bed,” these consist of several seating wedges. Like nesting outdoor furniture, you can push these pieces together to form a platform big enough to sprawl out on. Pulled apart, they create a surprisingly effective sectional set, complete with ottoman-style coffee table. If you’re short on space but want the flexibility to enjoy your outdoor space alone or with a group, this is a great option.
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Or Do You Just Really Want To Enjoy A Bit Of Greenery?
Most of these options revolve around a deck or patio. But if your green space is heavier on the green, and the time you enjoy outside is primarily spent in your garden? The kind of outdoor furniture you want should be designed specifically for your garden. Stone, concrete, wrought iron, and teak benches, tables, and garden chairs are tough enough to hold up to outdoor weather conditions year-round. That means you can strategically place them throughout your garden, so you always have a nice shady spot to sit. The very outdoor furniture that might be too heavy or prone to rust on a wood or concrete deck will have exactly the heft and hardiness you need to decorate your garden.
Finding the right type of outdoor furniture is certainly only the first step in a long and involved selection process. But if you ask me, it’s the most important one to ensure you enjoy your space for the long haul!