Outdoor Furniture Buying Guide - Must-Know Tips
Whether your home’s outdoor space constitutes a tiny balcony or a sprawling backyard, decking it out with beautiful and functional furniture makes it the perfect place to spend your time. After all, there’s nothing better than feeling connected to your surroundings, taking in the (hopefully lovely) weather and hanging out with your friends or family.
Just like any other room in your home, there are a lot of variables that’ll affect what kinds of furniture pieces you select for your outdoor space. Outdoor furniture runs the gamut of styles, materials, and function, so before you buy, take some time to figure out what’s important to you, and what will serve your household’s needs. If you need a little help along the way, you’re in the right place – we’ve put together a complete outdoor furniture buying guide that’ll take you through the process from start to finish.
Establish your needs
Our number one tip when selecting furniture for a room – and similarly, your outdoor area – is to really determine your needs, and reflect them back into the pieces you choose. Regardless of the space you’re working with, whether it’s a patio, grassy backyard, gazebo, deck, balcony or some other configuration, the way you intend on using it will help you narrow down the right outdoor furniture options for you.
Think about what you’re likely to use the space for most. Are you a big fan of entertaining, or do you prefer to chill out in peace and quiet? When you have visitors over, is it a select few friends or your entire extended family? Consider the size of your household, and how many people are likely to want to use the outdoor space on a daily basis, as well as its max capacity. This will help determine what kind of outdoor setting you choose, and how many seats or how much surface area you’ll require. Where some might want to invest in a big lounge setting, others may prioritise family meals outside with outdoor dining furniture, or a cocktail party-style atmosphere with smaller pieces peppered throughout the space.
Another question to ask yourself is ‘what kinds of things do I want to be able to do outdoors?’ Where some of us want to lounge and relax, others might be keen on hosting cocktail parties, demanding a variation in furniture, such as an outdoor bar setting or a fire pit. Whatever your style, you’ll be able to find something to suit once you’ve nailed down the concept and your needs.
Consider placement and size
A huge part of determining ‘what’ is ‘where’ – the space you’re working with, and how you plan on arranging and configuring your furniture pieces. For instance, if you’re dealing with a small balcony, a hulking three-piece outdoor lounge setting isn’t going to suit, just like a dainty and delicate table and chairs might not ‘fit’ right in a rambling backyard. So, be sure to evaluate the size of your space, and select pieces that fit both literally and stylistically.
With that in mind, placement and ‘walkability’ are also key. Using your needs as a reference, try to roughly map out the area and how you will arrange your furniture pieces to optimise the space and deliver the kind of experience you’re seeking. Perhaps it makes sense to dot armchairs around a larger space to create a flexible and easily navigable seating area for guests. Or, maybe you want to organise your chairs around a central focus, like a big table, or that fire pit we talked about… On the other hand, if you’re working with, say, a small balcony, it’ll be more about the small tweaks that make the space feel more comfortable and easier to use fully, such as mixing high chairs with lower ones to increase your seating.
Select your materials
By now, you’ve likely created a rough floor plan – even if it’s just in your head – and will have mapped out the kinds of furniture pieces you need. Whether you’re going all out with a luxe outdoor setting, or are picking up smaller pieces to create a cosy and chic space for all occasions, the next step is to determine the materials you’ll use.
One of the key difficulties you’ll come across when choosing outdoor furniture is durability, which makes material all the more important. Unlike your indoor furniture, it’s crucial that you pick out something that’ll withstand the test of time even when coupled with elemental pressure from bright sunlight, rain or even snow. While most outdoor furniture sets are moderately weatherproof, certain types of material will wear better than others.
If you’re all about wooden furniture, and want to carry this style into your outdoor space, then opt for something ultra-sturdy like acacia, eucalyptus, or even teak. While they still require care – such as an oiling once every twelve months or so, to keep grey tones at bay – they’ll hold up better than softer or lighter woods. Don’t skimp on spot-cleaning stains, and be sure to invest in a protective covering that you can throw over the wood when necessary, especially if you live in a tropical, rainy climate.
Another great go-to that uses natural materials is wicker outdoor furniture. This woven technique is often constructed with rattan, bamboo or jute, and when finished correctly, can weather the elements like nobody’s business. Plus, it gives off a luxurious feel that’ll transform your outdoor space into a coastal-chic paradise. Keep in mind that certain materials tend to pair better with specific styles, and may ultimately dictate the overall vibe of your space.
Of course, wooden and natural materials aren’t your only options. Stone is as sturdy as it gets, and if marks are buffed out quickly, pieces constructed from this will last a lifetime. Just be sure that rambunctious kids or pets don’t cause a commotion and send your beautiful, breakable stone piece toppling. Other potential materials include iron, steel, plastic, and aluminium. Aluminium outdoor furniture in particular is super popular, as it’s super durable, and just needs a hose down or wipe-over with a wet cloth to clean.
While weatherproof outdoor furniture might seem like an impossibility, with the right materials, and a little bit of care, it’s actually achievable. Always keep a care kit on hand ready to wipe up spills or buff away scuff marks, and that investment will pay for itself in longevity.
Our final tip is to always prioritise comfort. You’ll want to spend as much time as possible outside if your outdoor patio furniture is soft, cosy and welcoming – so be sure to opt for upholstered pieces that use quality materials (e.g. cotton or linen covers with ample cushioning).
Determine your style
The final piece of the outdoor furniture puzzle is style. Because you’re working with a completely new space that’s almost separate to the rest of the home, view this as your chance to get creative and have your say. While some may like to carry through their home’s theme into their garden or deck furniture, others may prefer to switch things up in a different style.
Like we’ve established, the materials you choose will have a huge influence on the style of your pieces. Raw, rustic wood will work well with a mid century modern or Scandinavian approach, whereas metals in silver, black and white give off a modern contemporary feel. Rattan is perfect if you’re trying to play up Hamptons or coastal vibes. But, there’s more to this exercise than just what your pieces are made out of – be sure to consider shape, colour and embellishments, too.
Think about the identifying features of the styles you are drawn to. What’s the colour palette like? Natural, neutral hues tend to fit better with laid-back styles like Scandi and mid century, whereas a brighter pop of colour might suit something art deco. An achromatic black and white palette is super contemporary, and coastal style draws on cool tones like blue and green. Reflect this in your choice of both furniture and decor. What about the shapes and lines? Clean, structured lines have a very different energy to softer, more fluid ones – think about what you enjoy the most and find outdoor furniture sets and pieces that fit.
Whether you show off your personality and unique style in a big way (like with your lounge setting’s upholstery) or a subtle touch (think pot plants, tableware and lighting) it’s important your outdoor space feels like you.
Ready to get out there and find the perfect outdoor furniture for your space? Let’s go! Here at Brosa, we offer a huge range of beautiful and well-constructed pieces to suit every room in your home, including the exterior. Shop our outdoor furniture range today, with Australia-wide delivery, 21-day returns and flexible payment available.