April showers bring May flowers, right? That’s what we’re hoping for here in the Kristina Wolf Design studio anyway. While we’re thrilled about all the rain our state has absorbed this year, we’re ready to turn our sites on sunshiny weather – and that means more time spent in backyards and patios.
If you haven’t shopped for patio furniture lately, you might experience a bit of sticker shock; it’s an investment. Even lower-end products sold in big box gardening shops have whopping price tags. For this reason, I recommend saving up until you’re able to splurge on higher-quality products made by well-established brands. The right choice will yield furniture that lasts decades, and that beats spending money every year to replace cheaper, worn out versions.
7 Tips for Purchasing Patio Furniture
Here are 7 tips to help you make the right investment for your outdoor lifestyle.
Get your priorities straight
What are you purchasing the furniture for? This will dictate which pieces you buy. Do you dine outdoors on a regular basis? If so, a larger dining table and chairs makes sense. If not, a smaller café table with chairs will suffice and the rest of your furniture can be mix-and-match chairs and a couple of ottomans that also serve as tables or additional seating as needed.
Are you a lounger and/or is your backyard the go-to space for cocktail hour or morning coffee? In that case, a couch (which can always be pulled up to a table) and a chaise lounge or two are essential.
Make a list of which furniture gets priority so those pieces make the cut first.
Think about size
You’ll want to think about the square footage of your outdoor area and then make sure your furniture is sized according to the space.
Squeezing too much in, or placing oversized pieces in smaller spaces, yields a crowded and less relaxed energy – and that’s not the idea. Larger patios have room for furniture-style pieces while a smaller patio should feature perimeter benches and lower profile tables and chairs.
Try them on for comfort
Never purchase patio furniture you haven’t tried out on your own. Like bar stools or dining room chairs, you should be able to sit down and remain in place for at least a minute or two, so you’re absolutely sure you’re making a comfortable choice. The last thing you want is a chair that pinches thighs, tables that are too high or too low for eating or project comfort, or chair arms that are too skinny to actually support a real life arm. Don’t forget to check out adjustable chaise lounge positions to make sure the angles are all comfortable – and that you can access a completely prone position for lounging on your tummy.
Consider all-weather and storage options
Materials definitely matter for a few reasons. First, you don’t want to purchase a sturdy and heavy wrought-iron set if you’re planning to rearrange furniture on a regular basis, or if you’re going to be storing them seasonally as they are cumbersome to lift and maneuver. Similarly, you shouldn’t purchase weather-vulnerable wood furniture unless you’re committed to sealing them each year before the wet weather kicks into gear. Look for patio pieces that are inherently weather resistant and/or that are coated with high-quality protective coatings to extend their lifetime.
Really think about your outdoor lifestyle, weather you’re going to be storing furniture or not, how often it will be moved around, and the climate where you live. If you are planning to store it, have you narrowed selections to those that fold, stack or come apart easily for space efficiency? Answers to these questions will narrow your options in regards to materials and maintenance requirements.
Figure out which material makes the most sense for you
Those brand new plastic or acrylic pieces look amazing in the store, and the price may feel right, but you’re guaranteed to need new furniture within five years. Rule of thumb: always purchase from established brands to make sure you’re fully satisfied.
So, that leads to an analysis of higher-quality materials.
- Wrought-iron. Beautiful and long lasting. Also very heavy and can be ruthless when it comes to stubbed toes and shins. Look for powder-coated, UV-resistant finishes, rust-proof hardware, and seamless welds.
- Aluminum. Yields a high-quality look but is much lighter-weight. Again, you’re looking for powder-coated, UV-resistant finishes, rust-proof hardware, and seamless welds.
- Recycled plastics or polymers. Unlike the cheaper plastic options, these are thick, heavy and durable. Consumers also like the rounded and more sculpted (mid-century modern) style available from these moldable materials. Look for UV-stabilizing pigments to prevent fading.
- Wood. Only purchase patio furniture made from denser wood such as eucalyptus, teak or Shorea wood (looks like teak but is much cheaper). Almost all other wood products need to be sealed every year – and the reality is that most homeowners don’t do it. Look for wood furniture that isn’t glued together.
Purchase covers or a stylish storage shed
Even the most weather-resistant patio furniture materials last longer when it’s protected. If you aren’t planning on storing furniture, purchase heavy-duty covers from the manufacture so they fit well.
Pay attention to warranty information
Do pay attention to warranty information, particularly information pertaining to the furniture’s structural integrity. While paint and coatings are relatively easy to replace, your furniture’s structure should come with respectable warranty protection so you can rest easy – physically, mentally and financially.
Comfortable, high-quality patio furniture is the foundation for years of outdoor memory making with family and friends. Interested in designing an outdoor living space that suits your interests and lifestyles – and optimizes your outdoor space? Contact me here at Kristina Wolf Design. A single consultation will have you set for the season.