14 Apr How to Select Beautiful and Functional Outdoor Furniture for Your New Luxury Home
Whether you’ve already got your brand new luxury home or you’re planning for the future, you don’t want to overlook your outdoor areas. The days of the formal dinner party are dwindling, and more and more gatherings center on open outdoor spaces with a breeze and a view. To get your garden or lawn ready to entertain or just for personal enjoyment, you need to think carefully about furniture options.
Accessing Your Needs
The first task in choosing new luxury outdoor furniture is realistically assessing your needs. Start by analyzing your outdoor spaces. If you have a large yard with a spacious patio, you’ll be relatively unconstrained. If you’re working in a tight space, however, you’ll probably need to make a few hard choices. Do you need a large glass table for poolside dinners, for example, or would you prefer to have ample deck chair seating for sunbathing? Measure the dimensions of your outdoor space and make a quick sketch on graph paper to develop a sense of how many pieces you can fit.
Beyond analyzing your available outdoor space, you’ll also want to consider how you plan on using the space. Are you planning to host elegant dinner parties next to the infinity pool? If so, you’ll need to preserve space for large table under a covered area. If you’re more likely to host intimate gatherings for friends, you should replace the table with outdoor-ready loveseats and sofas arranged in a semicircle around the fireplace.
Once you’ve determined your furniture needs, it’s time to start thinking about styles. Patio and outdoor furniture is now available in almost every imaginable genre, so you’ll have lots of options available. The easiest strategy is to match the style of your furniture to the style of your house. A few examples:
- If your home follows a Southern Plantation-style architectural model, wooden furnishings painted white are an obvious choice. A white wooden bench swing next to a white side table capable of holding a lemonade try is the quintessential southern-styled front porch arrangement.
- For homes built on the Spanish Colonial model so popular in much of Southern California, wrought iron with plush cushions is clear choice for seating. The iron meshes well with Spanish Colonial home exteriors, connoting the traditional stylistic elements of the villa while offering modern comfort.
- Pueblo Revival architecture popular in much of the Southwestern United States works beautifully with patio furniture based on raw wood. Aim for a rustic-style wooden coffee table as a centerpiece.
If you’re having trouble determining which furniture style matches best with your home, take a close look at your windows, doorframes and trim. Matching your outdoor furniture to style and color of your trim is a great shortcut to a coherent exterior design plan–as long as you’re happy with the way your trim looks.
Unfortunately, the best stylistic match for your home might not always be the most practical match. You also have to factor in your local climate. The biggest concern is perciptitation, since repeated exposure to water can damage many kinds of outdoor furniture.
If you have a covered patio or similar outdoor area that provides protection from the elements, you can choose almost any kind of furniture designed for outdoor use. Obviously, you wouldn’t leave a $5,000 leather sofa on the back porch, but any fabric design for patio functionality will wear well in a semi-protected environment. If you don’t have a covered area for the furniture, things get trickier.
If you live in an area with dry summers and cold wet winters, the easy solution is to store your furniture in a shed or garage during the winter months and trot it out again for summer. If storage isn’t an option, however, you can rely on a few types of furniture to stand up to repeated exposure to rain and snow. Aluminum is the best weather-resistant option because it won’t rust or fade and it’s lightweight for moving. Another good option is treated wicker, which often comes with a 20-year guarantee. Synthetic wicker isn’t as classy, but it does tend to hold up better than the real thing. Treated hardwoods can hold up fairly well against the elements, but may require frequent resealing to keep it looking fresh. Of course, you’ll need to take in and store cushions for all these types of furniture, since soft fabrics won’t handle the snow at all.
Even if you live in an ever-sunny environment like southern Arizona, you still need to factor in climate when making a buying decision. In hot summer sun, you want to avoid metal furniture items because they store up ungodly amounts of heat and can actually cause mild burns. You should also avoid brightly colored fabrics for outdoor use, since the sun will cause them fade over time.
Extending the Party Season
If you live outside the sunbelt, you know the sad feeling of packing away the barbeque and the patio furniture as the leaves change colors and signal the end of summer. Modern technology, however, can help you extend the party season well into October and start as early as March. Electric heating systems are now highly efficient and capable of fending off icy temperatures from your patio. The large stand-up units are most efficient, but you can alose choose unobtrusive models that blend into your decor much like outdoor speaker systems.
If you live in desert of the deep South, you probably have the opposite problem–too much heat to enjoy the outdoors. Misters are the perfect solution for you. A good mister system can waft crisp, cool water vapor over your entire outdoor, allowing guests to enjoy the view even during the hottest summer months.
Lighting and Accessories
Furniture isn’t everything. Lighting and accessory choices can make or break your exterior design plan, so choose wisely. For lighting, you should aim for something soft and ambient. Don’t allow any exposed bulbs to be visible from the area guests will be sitting. If possible, point lights away from the party onto exterior walls so only the reflection lights the actual occupied area. If you have a lot of space in the back yard, use LED lights to light walking paths and cordon off any water features.
There are a handful of other accessories that can add to your outdoor experience. These are worth considering, depending on your objectives:
- Insect Repellent Systems: Something to keep the mosquitos away is essential in the South or any other region with lots of blood-suckers lurking about.
- Outdoor Sound System: An external speaker system is a great touch for entertaining friends, and it’s almost required for anything gathering larger than a dozen people.
- Outdoor Bar: If you’re entertaining frequently and you have the space, a built-in or freestanding bar is a great way to keep the party lubricated.
Planning your outdoor areas deserves just as much attention as yoru living room or master bedroom, so don’t skimp on the homework. Don’t settle for second rate–find the perfect furniture for your patio!