By Abby Dahlinghaus, Decorating Den Interiors
If you’ve been procrastinating on buying new outdoor furniture, don’t get into such a hurry that you make decisions you’ll regret later. Here are a few tips:
Seek out attractive, well designed fabrics. You do not have to settle for the traditional outdoor look of awning stripes and the like. Today’s fabrics that withstand climate also are stylish. We see more variety in patterns that make fabrics blend well with interior and outdoor usage. Make your decisions not just about function. Decorate your outdoor spaces to be pleasing to the eye. The outdoors are beautiful; so too should be the space in which you enjoy the outdoors.
Fabric: Beauty and durability
But, you do want that fabric to last. So what qualities should you want?
Look for the label. You want fabrics that are stain and mildew resistant, water repellant and fade resistant. Most indoor/outdoor fabrics are made from acrylic or polyester and are solution dyed. This means that the color is put into the material when it is a liquid. This makes the color an inherent part of the fabric, not something that is added later on. Most indoor/outdoor fabrics are UV protected and have a guarantee to not fade for 3-10 years depending on the pattern.
Also look at the cleaning instructions. If it’s stain resistant, it most likely can be cleaned using a mild detergent and cold water for spot cleaning. Some outdoor fabrics can even be hosed off.
Perhaps the best known brand for these types of fabrics is Sunbrella, which was developed in the early 1960's as an alternative to cotton canvas. The acrylic canvas was originally used for awnings. In the 1970's, the Sunbrella marine fabrics were used on boats and outdoor cushions. In the 1980's, Sunbrella introduced a line of furniture weight fabrics and in 2002, Sunbrella expanded into residential fabrics that can be used indoors or outdoors.
Now to structure
Aluminum, plastic and PVC materials are rustproof, lightweight, relatively inexpensive, require very little weather treating, and can be washed easily with a little soap and water.
Steel and wrought iron are heavy duty and sturdy but will rust if not weatherproofed or painted periodically.
Wicker furniture uses natural materials such as Ratan that presents a great look and is very durable outdoors, especially when treated with a resin finish. Wicker is the weaving process that is used to make the furniture. Its use has been documented as far back as ancient Egypt, and wicker baskets have even been discovered in the ancient city of Pompeii.
Wood looks very attractive in outdoor furnishings and makes for sturdy furniture that can be as comfortable as anything you use indoors. It does require regular treatment with a preservative and may also require UV protection. Choose weather-resistant woods like teak, redwood, cypress and cedar.
Some manufacturers, by the way, have categories described as “Outdoor Limited Exposure” and “Outdoor Weatherproof.” Again, look for the label.
Comfort is important -- very important. You may want steel or wood construction in your patio furniture for stability and longevity, but don't forget that without some homey comforts like soft, plush cushions, your outdoor furniture will go largely unused.
Go for thick cushions with polyester filler. The more lightweight and springy the filler is, the more quickly it will dry out after exposure to moisture. That means it will resist mold and mildew and stay comfortable and sweet smelling longer.
Watch those dimensions, too. Give yourself enough room to look forward to relaxing in what will become your favorite outdoor chair or chaise. Like always, decorating is about you. And, to make it even easier, why not take all the guess work out of outdoor decorating, and give a professional a call. We know how to help you get just the right product - the right look at the right price.
Abby Dahlinghaus owns Decorating Den Interiors of your city and you could add another phrase about yourself, such as and is a three-time winner in the company’s International Dream Room Contest.