With many of us planning to spend Christmas outside, now is the time to improve your outdoor furniture living space. Getting the right furniture for your garden can make the difference between an extension of your home you’ll use and one you won’t. So, shopping for outdoor furniture might not be at the top of your list of fun things to do outside, but it will make your weekends more relaxing in the long run.
Most garden furniture is made of metal, plastic, or wood. Both have their pros and cons.
Most wood furniture needs to be maintained once a year, and if it is left out in the weather, it will wear down over time. But it looks great and, since it is made of natural materials, it won’t do much damage when it dies.
In New Zealand, kwila, a tropical hardwood that is imported, is used to make outdoor furniture that is much cheaper. This is a natural material, but it may not be the most ethical choice. Look for things made from wood that is grown in a sustainable way or from proven hardwoods like teak or macacarpa.
Choosing outdoor furniture based on how you want to use the space is a good idea.
In the world of outdoor furniture, plastic has come a long way. Forget the fragile plastic chairs that could drop you to the floor and stab you in one move. Resin wicker is a popular material that is more resistant to UV light and is also light and easy to clean. Look for resin wicker made of high density polyethylene instead of the cheaper and more brittle PVC. Between 10 and 15 years is how long resin wicker furniture lasts.
We’ve all probably seen a rusty park bench that shows how durable metal furniture can be. Wrought iron is heavy and looks pretty. It will also rust, but you can treat and recoat it, and your wrought iron furniture should last a century. Lightweight materials that don’t rust, like stainless steel or even aluminium, are a bit more useful. Beware of cheaper metals that will rust, especially near the coast (most of New Zealand).
It is another popular choice for style, but it is very heavy and needs to be sealed every year to keep it looking great.
4. What you should think about before going shopping
- Think about how much you’re willing to spend to keep your furniture in good shape. If you don’t think you’ll be able to stain wood every year, don’t worry about it.
- Think about how you will keep your furniture safe over the winter. You could buy covers or store the pieces in a shed or garage. Consider chairs that can be stacked, as they will take up much less room when not in use.
- How you want to use the space will help you decide what furniture to get. Don’t take up all the room with a big dining set if all you want is a couple of comfortable sun loungers.
- If you want a space where you can move the furniture out of the way to set up a paddling pool or do yoga in the morning, choose light, easy-to-move furniture.
- Comfort outside is just as important as comfort inside. The point of garden furniture is to make you spend more time outside, so look for pieces that make you feel like you’re on vacation.
- Don’t forget about shade, or your beautiful outdoor space won’t be very useful. A place outside is really liveable when it has enough and easy-to-use shade. Awnings, shade sails, and pagoda-style structures are all easy to find at big box stores these days.
- If you want to buy a sunbrella, get one that is bigger than you think you need and has angles that can be changed. Just as it’s good to have more than one source of light inside, you need more than one source of shade outside, like a sunbrella and a shade sail.
- Couches outside need cushions. Dress up your outdoor furniture with homey touches and add colour and texture to take it to the next level. My tip for making your life easier is to keep your outdoor cushions in a big empty bean bag that you can quickly and easily bring inside if it starts to rain.
- As with any room in your home, the most important thing is that you love it, so make a space that works for you and how you live and is easy and fun to keep up.