Decor and furniture for any garden
Whether you live in an apartment with a tiny balcony overlooking the communal pool or in a stately manor with an assortment of decks, tree houses and gazebos overlooking your estate, you'll have an outdoor room – or two or three.
Just as you carefully select the furniture to fit your interior floor plan, there are certain pieces that are essential to your lawn and garden floor plan as well. And just as you selected the right colors, materials and fabrics inside, your outdoor plan should be coordinated, durable and attractive. What you need is a garden furniture plan.
Whether your outdoor space is a 4-foot-by-5-foot pad of concrete or an elegant marble patio wrapping around the mansion, every outdoor room should have at least two or three pieces of garden furniture. Here is a brief garden furniture review:
There is nothing better than relaxing in the sun or in the shade on a comfortable lounger, piled with soft cushions and pillows. For maximum comfort the backrest and footrest should be easily adjustable and wide enough to sprawl – if they accommodate two, even better!
The classic garden chair style in the backyard, front porch or on a deck overlooking the sea. Even without cushions, they are more comfortable that the solid wood suggests, and their wide armrests provide the perfect place to sit drinks and snacks.
Gazebo or Umbrella
Even sun worshipers need the shade once in a while, and if you are addicted to being outdoors, a large umbrella or covered gazebo can save your relaxation from the occasional shower too. While not as effective against rain, a pergola can also provide some cover while adding a decorative touch to your outdoor space.
Dining el fresco is great in warm weather, but balancing plates and glasses isn't much fun. A small table with a few comfortable chairs is essential, especially if you do a lot of entertaining.
Gliders or Swings
Depending on the size of your space, a traditional porch swing, a stand-alone swing, a glider (basically a swinging sofa) or just something hanging from a sturdy tree branch is a must-have. Whether it's on fully equipped metal or wooden swing sets or just an old tire suspended on a rope, there is something about swinging that brings out the kid in all of us.
Hammocks and lazy summer days go hand in hand. If you don't have a swing, you need a hammock. Hammocks can be economical with space, too. Get one with a collapsible frame or find a pair of sturdy posts or trees to hang it from – instant relaxation.
You need a convenient place to sit drinks and snacks, so you'll need a few small, sturdy tables. Make them light enough that they can be easily relocated to wherever you're relaxing, but stable enough so they don't get knocked over by pets or kids.
Dogs like being outside too, but if they're couch potatoes inside they may try to take over your favorite comfy spot – a Labrador in a hammock isn't practical. A raised wooden bed with a washable, coordinating cushion and canopy to keep off the sun would be just the thing. And don't forget a "table" to keep their water bowl from tipping over.
Kid Sized Furniture
If you have the space in your garden plan, a scaled-down dining set or hammock will give kids a place to dine or recline in style. It can also keep them away from the adults, for a bit of extra peace and quiet.
Folding chairs are an absolute must for barbecues, backyard parties or even just a sunny afternoon when guests drop by. While most people think of the drab metal folding chairs popular with rental halls, many styles, colors and materials are available, so you're sure to find chairs that will be comfortable and look nice for your guests. Then, when the guests are gone, they fold up for easy, convenient storage in a closet, basement or other out-of-the-way location.
Once you've drawn up a rough plan, decided which pieces you need and know what your budget will withstand, you're ready to go shopping. Buy the best quality pieces you can afford, and go for durability as well as the fun-factor. Your garden furniture will give you years of service, no matter what material you choose.
If you like wood and can afford it, teak garden furniture is the best choice. Teak lasts forever, looks great and requires little maintenance. If the price of teak puts you off, cedar or cypress are good second choices. Whichever wood you select, make sure that wooden garden furniture is sealed with a good outdoor sealant that is guaranteed to last.
Wicker garden furniture is classic, elegant and comes in a variety of styles, sizes and shapes such as tables, chairs, loungers and rockers. Designed to be outside, wicker is durable, lightweight and will last for years on a covered porch. Good quality wicker can be expensive, but is well worth it.
Wrought-iron garden furniture is another classic choice when decorating the outdoors. What better than sitting at a small wrought-iron bistro table reading the paper and sipping your morning coffee? Aluminum can look good too, especially if you are going for a more modern look, and it will be less expensive than wrought iron. The combination of aluminum, glass and plastic fabric makes for sturdy, durable and weather-resistant tables and chairs.
In the last 15 to 20 years, white or green plastic garden furniture has become popular and easy to find almost everywhere. You can get tables, chairs and loungers that are inexpensive and lightweight. Although the white plastic shows the dirt, you can now buy a specialty plastic paint, which is a great way to turn discount plastic garden furniture into something a bit more personal and exciting.
Best Time to Buy
If you can, resist the temptation to buy garden furniture as soon as it appears in stores (shortly after Christmas). The longer you wait in the season, the better the discounts. Even if you buy some garden furniture in late August or early September, there's still the opportunity for a bonfire in the evening or a warm Indian summer afternoon.
By Pat Gray