Patio Furniture Buying 101
Patio season has arrived. It’s time to spruce up your backyard to make it the oasis of your dreams and spend your weekends enjoying the outdoors. When you make your backyard as cozy and inviting as your living room, you’ll find yourself wanting to retreat to the sunshine and fresh air as often as possible.
Patio furniture these days comes in so many styles and functions it’s hard to know what is right for your space. There are modern pieces and rustic pieces, wooden pieces and wicker pieces. You can buy seating for 4 or seating for 12. You can buy tables that also have fire pits and couches that can be reconfigured as you choose. This patio furniture guide will help you determine which styles and materials are right for your backyard oasis.
Patio Furniture Buying 101: Materials to Consider
There are several common materials used to make patio furniture. Which material you choose is largely a matter of personal preference. Some materials require more maintenance or upkeep than others. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Plastic: Plastic patio furniture is often inexpensive and can be easily cleaned. However, if it cracks it is not usually repairable.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is generally inexpensive and lightweight. It is easy to clean and shouldn’t rust or fade with time.
- Wrought iron: Wrought iron patio furniture is often very elegant looking and sturdy. It holds up well and is easy to clean, but it will rust if not properly cared for.
- Wood: Patio furniture made from wood is usually timeless in design and aesthetically pleasing. It should hold up well over time but will need to be maintained. It is also more expensive than other options.
- Wicker or Rattan: Wicker is usually lightweight and durable. Wicker furniture will generally come with fabric cushions that will have to be washed regularly to prevent discoloration.
Use Martha Stewart’s guide for tips on how to properly care for different types of patio furniture.
Patio Furniture Buying 101: 8 Styles to Consider
What type or style of patio furniture you end up buying depends on a number of factors.
- How big is the backyard space you want to furnish?
- How many people will be using this outdoor space?
- Do you plan to eat meals outside? Or simply sit and enjoy coffee (or wine)?
- What is your patio furniture budget?
Once you’ve answered all of these questions, consider these different styles of patio furniture for your outdoor oasis!
- Patio dining table and chairs: If you plan to dine al fresco in the warmer months, consider an outdoor dining table. You can buy these tables to seat as few as 4 people, or sometimes up to as many as 12 people or more. Tables often come with holes in the center for an umbrella (which is usually sold separately) that can be opened and used to protect diners from the sun. A table is a must-have if you plan to host outdoor dinner parties with friends and neighbors.
- Outdoor chairs with a small table: If you have a small patio space but still want a spot to sit with a cup of coffee and enjoy nature, two or four patio chairs with a small table is perfect for your space. These chairs can be big and plush or smaller, bistro-type chairs with a small table in between, large enough to hold your coffee mug and a book for peaceful mornings spent outdoors.
- Outdoor sofa: Outdoor sofas are a must-have if you plan to host people in your backyard to socialize. Outdoor sofas can often be configured in different ways to accommodate your guests in a way that makes sense for you. These are perfect spots to hang out and catch up with friends.
- Chaise lounge/Sun lounger: You don’t need a pool to benefit from a sun lounger in your backyard! If you like to read with the warm sun on your legs, consider a sun lounger for your backyard space. These chairs are perfect to kick back and relax on.
- Glider or swing: A glider is a nice addition to your patio as a spot to sit and talk on the phone or enjoy the fresh outdoor air. It also provides movement to rock a young child to sleep. A patio swing has to be hung from an overhang so it may not be ideal for everyone’s backyard, but it is a nice addition if you have the space.
- Hammock: Hammocks are non-traditional seating for your backyard that offer a nice place to put your feet up. Hammocks can be hung between two trees or can be freestanding if purchased with a base. They provide a cool place for an afternoon nap or a cozy spot to read.
- Patio egg chair: Egg chairs are a recent trend in outdoor patio furniture, and they are a neat addition to your space. They provide a nice nook to sit back and relax and are large enough for an adult and child to sit together and enjoy the summer breeze.
- Fire pit table: Fire pit tables are versatile patio pieces that allow you to spend time outside on cooler nights. Use the table to set drinks or small plates on and then use the fire pit to roast marshmallows or warm cold hands during cooler evenings. If you spend a lot of time outside in the evening, these make a functional, versatile piece to add to your outside furniture collection.
Patio Furniture Buying 101: Fun Extras
When you’ve purchased your patio furniture and set it up in your backyard to your liking, you may still find you have a bit more space you’d like to fill. Consider these fun extras that will give your backyard oasis that finishing touch.
- Freestanding umbrellas. These can be moved around as needed to provide shade for any of your outdoor seating.
- Beverage carts. These typically come on wheels and can easily be wheeled in and out of your home and hold all kinds of extras for you, from beverages to food and bug spray to water balloons.
- Outdoor rugs. Outdoor rugs are an easy way to add some color to your outdoor space. When placed on a wooden deck or cement that gets full sunlight, they can also be easier on bare feet in the summertime and easier to sweep debris off of, as well.