Patio, outdoor or garden furniture is furniture designed for use on a porch, under a pergola or outside exposed to the elements on a patio. Historically, patio furniture was made from organic materials that naturally repelled the effects of weather damage, such as teak or rattan; modern patio furniture is made from synthetic or treated organic material designed specifically to resist the effects of weather damage longer than their historic predecessors. Patio furniture is often sold as patio furniture sets which can include seating (from chairs to chaise lounges to sofas), tables (from large dining tables down to small coffee tables) and even accessories such as umbrellas and storage boxes. Outdoor furniture can be made from a variety of materials including wood, resin, teak, wrought and cast aluminum, wicker, wrought iron, sling and plastic. Teak and wicker were historically popular options. Teak wood contains silica, which repels fungus, water damage, discoloring, warping, splintering and swelling. Teak and wood should be treated periodically to prevent these issues, with teak requiring less maintenance due to its natural weather resistance. Wicker can be made from any type of palm plant, such as rattan. Today most wicker furniture is made from synthetic resins and plastics.
Questions To Ask Yourself Regarding Patio Furniture:
The Patio Furniture industry has literally exploded over the past 30 years. Never before has there been such an array of choices, such a wide range of pricing and quality, and so many places to procure patio furniture. The total magnitude of it all can be overwhelming and intimidating.
The easiest way to approach shopping for and purchasing patio furniture is to break it down into manageable steps and questions:
Consider your tastes, independent of patio furniture. What do you like? Do you prefer contemporary, clean lines or a lot of embellishment? Are you drawn to traditional looks or do you prefer an organic, natural feel?
Examine your outdoor space. Is it a wooden deck? Are there multi-levels? Is it a paver patio, a concrete slab, a pergola? Is there a view or a pool to consider? A firepit or outdoor fireplace? How large is the area?
- Think about how you will be using your outdoor living area. Do you entertain often? Are there large crowds at your house? Will this be a party area or a retreat area? Do you have small or teenage children? Do you prefer to be outside whenever possible?
Answering these questions for yourself will give you a better jumping off point to begin your actual shopping.
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your outdoor space may be, no one will be able to appreciate it if you don’t have comfortable, functional patio furniture. And if your backyard view leaves something to be desired, dressing it up with a gorgeous casual dining set or a sumptuous wicker sectional will make all the difference in the world.
The right patio furniture can create an atmosphere for upscale entertaining; it can provide a comfortable spot for family and friends to gather; it can construct a virtual outdoor room, providing an extension of your indoor living space; and it can offer a private retreat for rest and relaxation.
From Tanks to Tea Tables
Believe it or not, the first real production and marketing of modern patio furniture in the US occurred when factories were no longer being used for wartime manufacturing. Once the need for wartime implements ceased, particularly after WW2, some factories began to manufacture metal patio furniture. For the first time in a long time, Americans were living without the dark clouds of war and depression hanging over their heads and were able to enjoy recreation and relaxation. Think of your patio furniture purchase as a tribute to the American way of life. Really! Isn’t being able to enjoy your hearth and home in peace and prosperity the very definition of the American dream?
Introduction: How to Buy Patio Furniture
Our Patio Furniture Buyers Guide Videos offer information on the wonderful world of outdoor, garden and patio furniture. Learn about the types of patio furniture, such as wrought iron, cast aluminum and sling, as well as different collection types, such as deep seating, dining, counter height dining and bar height seating options. Find helpful information on permanent and disposable patio furniture. Discover what to initially look for when searching for patio furniture such as strength of warranties, the ability of manufacturers to cover warranties, quality control processes to ensure a quality product, cutting-edge technology and more.
Learn More About Patio Furniture Styles With These Home Improvement Guides:
- Sling Patio Furniture - Easy to clean & maintain, yet offers the ease of a cushion.
- Wicker Patio Furniture - The classic traditional look with versatile character & comfort.
- Aluminum Patio Furniture - Nearly indestructible material offers timeless designs & patterns.
- Wrought Iron Patio Furniture - The grand tradition that's budget friendly, yet will last.
- Wood Patio Furniture - Sophisticated & natural outdoor furniture that ages beautifully.
- Plastic Patio Furniture - Environmentally-friendly materials that conquer outdoor elements.
Patio Furniture Table & Seating Types
- Dining Patio Furniture - Create a wonderful outdoor dining room to serve guests with these table & chair sets
- Deep Seating - Comfy deep cushions for relaxing, reading a book or social events
- Bar Height - Taller sets offering 30" tall bar stools & tables elevated for a great seating experience
- Fire Pit Sets - Lounge sets with a central fire pit in place of a coffee table
- Chat Height Sets - Lower to the ground, these sets are perfect for creating conversations at social events
- Counter/Balcony Height Sets - Enjoy the view over the railing with these sets
- Bistro Sets - Sets composed of two chairs & one table copied from the classic seating found outside cafes
- Outdoor Bar Stools - Bar stools built to withstand harmful weather outside at your bar or island
- Outdoor Sectionals - Sofas, chairs & loveseats built in sections for easy movement, cleaning & storage
- Chaise Lounges - The beach resort classic offers the ability to sit up or lie down to soak in the sun
Patio Furniture Colors: Advice, Tips & Helpful Information
“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” - Marc Chagall
Patio furniture used to be brown, brown, brown and brown. Now there are so many beautiful options and possibilities when choosing colors for your decorating story, which thrills some and renders others catatonic. Bottom line: there are no wrong choices; if you like it, then it works!
However, if you would like to have a crash course in color before you make your final selections, read on. I’ve heard that “too much knowledge is a dangerous thing,” but a little learning never hurt anyone… so here’s a little learning regarding patio furniture colors:
There is a spectrum of colors, like you would find in a rainbow. This can be illustrated by placing that spectrum in a circle, or on a “color wheel” (pictured right).
I love the above quote by the celebrated painter Marc Chagall. Within it holds the first lesson. If you look at the color wheel, you can safely combine any colors that are touching; green and yellow, purple and blue, red and orange. These connecting colors are neighbors and they get along great in virtually any setting.
So a blue pillow on a purple cushion? How about a red pillow on a purple cushion? Sure! Can you put orange with red? Why not? They are friends, after all.
And who are their lovers? Chagall says their opposites, and opposites attract, according to the old adage. Personally, I think opposites end up trying to kill each other, but that’s personalities, not colors. The opposites are called “complementary” colors; red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple.
Something Chagall may have talked about in private, the ménage à trois. Tertiary colors are every other color on the wheel. So start with yellow – yellow, red and blue are tertiary colors; orange, purple and green are tertiary colors. These wild partiers make for a beautiful color scheme.
Keep in mind that this includes not just the colors on the wheel (pictured left is a simple color wheel), but the entire spectrum of colors that fall in between.
Add some colors to the wheel – red-orange; red-violet; blue-green. All of the above rules continue to apply. Neighbors are friends (i.e. orange and red-orange; green and yellow green); lovers are opposites (i.e. red-orange and blue-green) and the ménage à trois is still trois (i.e. blue-green, magenta and yellow-orange).
Whatever color scheme you choose, pick your primary color and use that color the most. If you are going with the tertiary colors of red, yellow and blue, then put a blue cushion on your sofa and use the other colors as accents.
One more easy lesson: monochromatic colors (a monochromatic color wheel is pictured to the right), or shades of the same color, look great together.
Any shade of blue; any shade of red; any shade of yellow, any shade of purple…you get the idea. Monochromatic color schemes can be very beautiful. Again, choose your primary color (i.e. navy blue) and use the other blues for accents.
And now that you have a little knowledge, maybe you have a little more confidence. But if you LIKE what you've chosen, then it is perfect. Period.
Patio Furniture Design Tips; Big Ideas For Small Spaces
Don’t have a big backyard? Don’t despair. You can create an outdoor room, whether you live on a grand country estate or a condo in the city. Some imagination and a little help from Mother Nature and you can have your own little backyard oasis.
Go outside and try to look at your space without any preconceived notions of what it should be. You don’t have to have a round table and four chairs on your patio. You don’t have to have a table at all. Consider a couple of deep seating lounge chairs and place an ottoman or ceramic garden stool between them. This will serve as a table but can also be an extra seat for company. Or go for a bistro set; a small table with two dining chairs. Bistro sets also come in counter and bar heights for variety or to preserve a view.
Benches also make great seating and can be rearranged as needed. Line a small 4' x 8' patio with 4’ benches and you will comfortably seat eight people. Create a garden by adding chicken wire trellises to your walls and planting ivy or other climbing vines. Use picket fencing against the walls to add some country charm. No place to plant flowers? Incorporate some planters in all shapes and sizes, positioned at various heights around your space. There are planters you can attach to your walls; gardens (for tomatoes and strawberries) you can hang, and don’t forget the traditional window box – a great option for a balcony.
Another way to bring in color and atmosphere to a small space is outdoor art! There are all types of canvas paintings and photographs made specifically to enhance an outdoor setting. Feeling boxed in? Hang up a mountainscape or a photo of a wide expanse of sea. Add an outdoor fountain, which come in all sizes and shapes, and bring in some Zen. All you have to do now is relax!
Need garden design ideas? Check out Wooly Pocket for unusual garden designs for small spaces.
Patio Furniture Cushions & Colors
The colors you choose to decorate with impart an atmosphere, establish a mood. Think about the environment you want to create in your outdoor living area when you are considering the colors you want to include. Are you aiming for party central or a peaceful haven? Choose appropriate colors and you are more than halfway there.
Color is divided into three groups, warm colors, cool colors, and neutrals.
These are the colors of heat, depicted by the sun and fire. They jump out and demand attention. Active, vibrant and alive, they cheer people up, promote sociability, and arouse appetites. These colors are very social and are most often used in the public parts of the home.
These are colors of serenity, depicted by trees and oceans. They provide an air of peace and harmony. Calm and restful, these colors are best for rooms used for sleeping, thinking, and relaxation.
Neutral colors are:
Because these represent the colors of the earth, they impart a solid no nonsense feeling. They work well with other colors and provide a background palette for other more attention getting colors.
Like playing with colors? Try the Color Scheme Designer for a little fun!
Learn More About Fabric & Cushions With These Videos:
Patio Furniture Tables
Do you need a table big enough to seat eight comfortably, but small enough to fit on your paver patio? Are you the “hostess with the mostess” who needs to seat 10 or more people at your frequent social gatherings? Do you have a narrow balcony at your condo where you would like to sip your espresso? Did you buy a property with a phenomenal view and you would like to be able to enjoy that view during dinner? Do you need a table that will expand to seat 10, but will seat only six most of the time? Regardless of your needs, there's a table for you!
To cater to the ever expanding and exacting needs of outdoor rooms, manufacturers have been producing all types of tables, in various sizes and heights. Of course, you can always use the ever popular 48” round table that will seat four, and the 72” oval table that will seat six. But people searching for the perfect patio table are by no means limited to these options.
Bigger & Better
Check out Hanamint, Gensun and Alfresco Home for oversized cast aluminum tables; seating for 10-12, oval, round and egg-shaped tables, as well as expandable tables. For example, Gensun has a beautiful 112” rectangular Grand Terrace table; Alfresco offers a basic and universal “weave” design in an 84” x 60” rectangle table; and there is a Hanamint Chateau Table which expands from a 76” to a 100” oval table.
Not Too High
Counter Height Seating has been phenomenally popular for the past few years, and why not? They are perfect for preserving a view by elevating the sitter just high enough to see over fences and railings. But they aren’t so high that your granny can’t enjoy the view as well. Balcony tables are available in cast, glass, tile, stone, wood and aluminum from vendors such as Tropitone, Woodard, Hanamint, Gensun and Summer Classics.
Just High Enough
The traditional Bar Height Table has also been a popular choice for outdoor living. Also great for a view, there is something about sitting up high, feet propped on the railing that is just fun. Bar tables are great for atmosphere. Just like counter height tables, bar tables are available in a wide variety of categories and styles. Check Homecrest, Alfresco, Windward, Telescope Casual and Hanamint to see some of the varieties available.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Every outdoor space has its own particular size issues. If you have an 8’ x 8’ patio and want to seat eight people, you can do it. Many furniture manufacturers now offer “odd” sizes, such as Hanamint’s 60” octagonal table or Gensun’s 60” square table. Have an even smaller space to fill? Cast Classic offers a 31” round bar or dining table and Woodard has 30”, 36” 42” wrought iron tables perfect for that “bistro” feel.
Find information on recent trends regarding outdoor furniture, research going green on your patio, learn about the history of furniture design and much more with our Patio Furniture Articles & Blogs. Each article or blog contains helpful information, news, statistics and data regarding outdoor living, patio life and garden furniture.
Outdoor Living & Patio Furniture Brands
Leisure Select - Wicker, aluminum & sling sets in many styles
Hanamint - Cast aluminum furniture with classical designs
Tropitone - Ultra modern designs perfect for poolside seating
Gensun - Cast aluminum furniture with traditional designs
Summer Classics - Various styles & types from dining to stools
Woodard - Everything from wicker to wrought iron is available
Agio Select - Mixes modern materials with traditional designs
Alfresco Home - Economic yet elegant aluminum & iron
Caluco - Choose antique or modern style with this brand
Royal Teak - Soft teak wood builds these beautiful collections
Cast Classics - Wicker & aluminum in modern or vintage forms
Panama Jack - Island-themed teak, aluminum & sling
Bahama Winds - Refined & elegant wicker collections
Meadowcraft - Wrought iron furniture built to last
Domus Ventures - Modern, cool & hip day beds
Veranda Classics - A mix of materials & styles
Homecrest - Sling, deep seating, aluminum & more
North Cape - Classic wicker sectionals & sets
Telescope Casual - Sling & deep seating options
Grosfillex - Chairs & tables built for commercial use
Windward - Aluminum, deep seating & sling choices
Ebel - Wicker day beds, chat, dining & deep seating sets
Berlin Gardens - Poly furniture such as Adirondacks & gliders
Best of Times - Portable outdoor tailgating bars