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Buying Furniture to Last

Forget New Year’s resolutions; for me, spring has always been the time of the year where I am able to consider making changes in my life; while there is the evidence of life after death in red tulips and yellow daffodils springing from dry bulbs; skeletal trees bursting into bud and bloom; cold quiet mornings morphing into a symphony of bird-songs…this is the season of possibility, of change, of resurrection…this is the season to clear out the old, the ugly, to get rid of the detritus of winter; this is the season to embrace another go-round, this is the season for another chance to get things right.

The idea of clearing out, cleaning up, making room; getting rid of the old and allowing the new; Spring cleaning, inside and out – is exciting to me; it renews my hope and it allows me to see my life in an entirely new way. That includes the deeper work that goes on inside me, but it also involves the outside work – the emptying of closets, the packing away of winter, making donations to Goodwill, and starting with a clean slate, full of potential and possibility.

Part of the yearly ritual involves clearing out all the dead twigs and plants from my garden; there is nothing so satisfying as ripping out dead, brittle, brown stems and seeing, hiding just underneath, green. Green sprouts, green leaves, just green. The first bloom of spring that appears (a daffodil this year) is nearly a religious experience; I hear angels sing…or maybe that’s just the robins who are mining for worms all over my yard.

My backyard space is important to me; it is where I spend most of the warm months; where I read, where I write, where I doze, where I pray; it is also the space where I entertain friends and family, all through the spring and into the fall.

So getting this space livable and comfortable is also important to me; in fact my spring cleaning always starts outside; I get my patio ready, then I work my way into the house. What this entails are the obvious things; power-washing away all the sunflower seed and peanut shells (I keep a pretty nice buffet for the birds and squirrels during the winter – but in the interest of full disclosure, I feed the birds because I like them; I feed the squirrels to lure them into my yard so my dogs can chase them. They love that).

I clean off any furniture that sat outside in the snow – in my case, all of it – and step back and take a good look at what I own and think about what I want. Patio furniture is much more fun than indoor furniture because it’s easier and cheaper to change it up – I enjoy keeping it fresh and on-trend. If the furniture is in good shape (and it usually is; one advantage to buying quality patio furniture is that it lasts a looooonnnnggg time) it becomes my blank canvas. Last year I painted the dark brown frames on my aluminum deep seating furniture a pewter color; a couple cans of spray paint and it was like an entirely new set. I bought new cushions – went from earthy browns and greens to shades of blue – added some pillows and a new rug and voila! A minor expenditure and I had a whole new mood, a whole new setting for my outdoor seasons. I have some sling-seated furniture as well; I haven’t changed out the slings yet, they are pretty neutral, but I know that I have the possibility. I do add a few throw pillows to those seats for fun and color.

Making an investment in outdoor furnishings is hard sometimes; it’s difficult to get past that $10.99 plastic chair mentality; but buying a well-built, timelessly crafted set of patio furniture is smart. It will serve you for years (my dining set is going on 8 and is still as good as new) and it will make your outdoor space more functional, more stylish, more comfortable and more fun. It will also give you durable, well-made frames that you can change up, season after season, at whim.

There are literally thousands of outdoor fabric options in every color conceivable and in patterns ranging from swirls to chevron to cheetah!

Replacement cushions or covers for any style of furniture are easy to find; they are directly available from better furniture manufacturers and can also be ordered from cushion specialty sites; Family Leisure offers a simple cushion search engine that will help you find exactly what you need. Outdoor throw pillows can be purchased nearly anywhere and are an easy way to change the look and style of patio furniture.

Here are some of my favorite “blank canvas” patio furnishings that will give you years of use and will also allow you to indulge your fashion sense and follow the ever-changing trends of color and design. Simply change out a cushion color, add a coat of paint or toss a few pillows and you will feel like you have a brand new set of outdoor furniture.

1. The Harmony Deep Seating Collection by Veranda Classics is a timeless design that will serve you well for seasons to come. The Harmony has a beautiful crisscross motif that ends in beguiling curves. This furniture can be elegantly formal, or with the right colors and accessories, it can have a Latin flair or a Tuscan flavor. It can also be dressed to play to enhance a whimsical mood.

3. Synthetic wicker, with its uv inhibitors and weatherproof construction, will last season after season. One option is the Cabo by North Cape. This all-weather wicker with its rich espresso finish is saved from being ultra-modern by the slight curve on the arm-rests. This gives you the option to make it part of a more traditional outdoor space or a contemporary setting.

4. A completely different all-weather wicker possibility which offers just as much versatility is the Cottage Collection by Woodard. The Cottage Collection can be cute and quaint with gingham or floral prints or beach it up with a tropical vibe – palm leaves are always in style.

5. Well-made teak furniture will last for years; the Miami Collection by Royal Teak offers the perfect backdrop for all variety of styles. Teak can be nautical, conventional, fanciful or feminine; just change out the cushions when you are ready to change up your backyard.

6. Windward’s Bay Cushion Dining Collection is ideal for anyone who likes to keep things fresh; this simple frame style will accept anything you want to put on it; the Bay Cushion can be casual or formal or anything in-between. And Windward manufactures their own cushions in Florida, so switching out fabrics is easy.

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7. Another Windward collection, the Cape Cod, is constructed of marine grade polymer; it offers the look of wood with none of the upkeep. The Cape Cod has broad flat arm rests reminiscent of Adirondack style chairs, making the ideal backdrop for whatever colors, patterns and textures that float your boat.

8. A kin to marine grade polymer is HDPE – high density polyethylene - a virtually indestructible resin material. Berlin Gardens manufactures furniture from HDPE that comes with a 20 year warranty. The Classic Terrace Deep Seating Collection is attractive and versatile; you can jazz it up however you want.

9. For something completely different but just as adaptable, Homecrest offers their Palisade Collection. I say different because the Palisade is constructed of steel. Before you go running, let me assure you that well-made steel patio furniture will last you for decades. I have four of these chairs around a fire-pit in my “back 40” and they just keep going and going and going. Steel also has the advantage of being a little bit cheaper than other materials; so for a minimal investment, you can have a set of patio furniture that you will be passing on to your children.

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This is just a small sampling of the patio furniture offered by Family Leisure that you will be able to “create” anew every spring. There are dozens of quality manufacturers that offer the best in outdoor design and construction; find something that appeals to you and your lifestyle, and think about making an investment in outdoor furnishings that you will be able to use and appreciate every spring, summer and fall for years to come. A basic frame will give you the ability to stay abreast of color trends and styles and you will never get bored with it.

The late Robin Williams had the perfect take on spring “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” Your patio furniture can help.

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