Take a Load Off With Garden Furniture

Whether permanent or temporary, garden furniture affects the look, feel and use of outdoor space. Of course, beauty isn't everything. Make sure that chairs, tables, benches and chaises are comfortable and practical before you purchase them.

Excerpted from Garden Design
Chic Deck Chair has Modern Sculptural Quality Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Minimalist Lines

Well-placed furniture strengthens a design, creates focal points, and invites you to relax. Seating for contemporary settings works best if it has sleek, minimalist lines and is made from modern materials.

Large pieces of furniture, like this modern deck chair, need space and a simple backdrop to allow their sculptural qualities to be fully appreciated.

Custom Wooden Bench Made from Reclaimed Materials Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Integrated Design

The architecture of the home should influence your garden furniture style. For example, cottage garden seating is best when it has a softer, homespun feel. A number of options blend well with a rustic design: original pieces, quality reproductions and repurposed furniture.

This quirky, natural growth site is enhanced by a custom wooden bench constructed from reclaimed materials.

Outdoor Sitting Area Extension of Home Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Outdoor Sitting Room

Some furniture can only withstand limited, dry weather use outdoors. Synthetic rattan furniture and modern plastic or resin pieces vary in their resistance to UV damage, so be sure to check the tags. Cushion pads on many outdoor sets are now waterproof, though it is best to protect them with covers when they are not in regular use - an outdoor storage locker could prove useful. If you want to retain the original patina on wooden furniture, which weathers if left outside year-round, you will have to clean, oil or varnish it regularly and store it, covered, for the winter.

Buy plush, upholstered furniture covered in fade-resistant, water-resistant fabric. Check to make that the frames are sufficiently durable for outdoor use. When you're not using them, protect heavy pieces from the elements with close-fitting, water-proof furniture covers.

Synthetic Rattan Used Outdoors in Summer Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Prolonged Life

Synthetic rattan with UV protection can be used outdoors in the summer, but avoid leaving it on a lawn for any length of time to prevent unnecessary turf damage.

Rounded Furniture Set Accentuates Curved Planter Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Molded Space

Consider the shape and size of the available space, as well as the style, when selecting furniture. For outdoor dining, take careful measurements to determine the size of table and chairs you can accommodate comfortably, and select furniture that mirrors the shape of the space. This round table on a circular patio not only fits perfectly, but also accentuates the curved bed behind. Don't despair if you don't have much space to spare; simple foldaway furniture, painted in fun colors to complement your design, are ideal for making use of intimate corners and other tight spaces.

Wooden Garden Bench is FSC Approved Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Environmental Factors

Tropical hardwoods like teak have long been used to manufacture garden furniture because of their natural durability. However, this type of timber is often not obtained from a sustainable source, and uncontrolled logging is having a devastating effect on the environment. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification ensures that source materials have been managed in an environmentally responsible way; temperate hardwoods such as oak or more durable softwoods are likely to be \"greener.\" Also look for furniture that has been manufactured from reclaimed wood, which can add a rustic quality to a design.

Wooden Lockers Double as Garden Seating Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Storage Ideas

Lack of available outdoor space to store gardening equipment, furniture, cushions and children's toys can present a real problem, for example in small urban gardens. One option is to choose garden seating that also provides storage, such as benches with hinged lids for access. Use a liner inside the storage element to create a waterproof area to keep more delicate items safe. Alternatively, buy garden cupboards and boxes specifically designed to store cushions over winter from specialty furniture suppliers.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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