Summer’s just around the corner, which means thoughts are turning to sunny afternoons and long evenings spent outside. The right furniture makes all the difference, turning your outdoor area into a warm and welcoming space where you can relax and entertain. And there are options aplenty; take your pick from fully upholstered outdoor sofas, cushioned dining chairs and minimalist dining settings that look just as good inside as out – all in a range of price points to suit different budgets.
Here are five stylish outdoor looks, with tips on the furniture you’ll need to create them.
Channel Hamptons sophistication with timeless wrought iron and a nautical colour scheme, as shown at the Sorrento Grand Retreat.
1. Classic Coastal
Set a sophisticated tone with classic furniture with softly curved lines and deep, generous seating. The look is timeless and elegant; think lattice-back dining chairs, delicate lacework and low-slung sofas and armchairs with rolled arms in materials such as wrought iron, galvanised steel, aluminium and all-weather wicker.
Up the comfort factor with deep seat cushions in robust outdoor-friendly fabrics. If your outdoor area is exposed, opt for quick-dry foam inserts that drain well and prohibit mould growth; if it’s undercover, add extra softness with Dacron-wrapped foam cushions, which are more comfortable but don’t dry as efficiently.
When it comes to colour, channel a Hamptons vibe with a classic navy and white colour palette or embrace classic coastal chic with natural timber and tonal shades of cream and taupe.
The slatted teak table and bench dining set at the Amberley offers the perfect space for summer dining and entertaining.
2. Modern Entertainer
Transform your outdoor area into an entertainer’s delight with a statement dining setting. For a sleek and streamlined look that won’t cost the earth (and is a cinch to clean), consider a table in high-pressure laminate or powder-coated steel with slender lines in on-trend matt black, charcoal or moss. If you favour the edgy and industrial look of metallics, consider a style in brushed stainless steel. Or, for a more natural feel, look for a style that incorporates a slatted timber top or timber legs.
Timeless timber is another option– just be aware that it’s likely to have a heavier visual presence than a steel or high-pressure laminate table, generally costs more and will require ongoing maintenance.
If you cater to a crowd on occasion, opt for an extendable table. When it comes to seating, upholstered dining chairs with armrests are supremely comfortable, but if space is tight long bench seats either side of the table will work well.
Incorporate textured woven patterns into your outdoor seating for an eye-catching contemporary look, as shown in the Astoria Grand.
3. Contemporary Chic
If your interior style leans more towards the contemporary, create seamless indoor-outdoor flow by carrying the same look outdoors with your furnishings. Add depth and interest in the same way you would indoors by choosing outdoor pieces with eye-catching detailing, such as woven seat backs, exaggerated curves, moulded wire construction and rope detailing. If budget is no problem, consider luxurious upholstery fabrics such as outdoor linen.
If you favour a minimalist look and want the flexibility to be able to move pieces around, choose chairs and tables in lightweight polypropylene or polyethylene – you’ll find a wide range of affordable styles on offer in fashionable hues, such as white, brights and earthy neutrals. Add texture and softness with cushions, soft throws and an upholstered outdoor ottoman.
For those with a large outdoor space, consider setting up separate zones for dining and relaxing – for example, a dining setting in the centre of the area, and a couple of armchairs or a small sofa by the outdoor fire where you can cosy up with a good book.
The modular outdoor lounge set pictured at the Sorrento Grand features durable cushion seating and steel frames, creating a seamless indoor-outdoor flow for relaxed entertaining.
4. Outdoor Lounging
Do you love nothing more than putting your feet up with a glass of wine at the end of the day or chatting with friends over a summer cocktail or two? If so, dispense with an outdoor dining setting and opt for a cosy sofa set-up instead – and create a second living area in the process.
The sofa you choose will depend on the shape and a size of your outdoor area; a modular style can be configured to suit many areas, while a sofa with open timber or steel arms will maximise the sense of spaciousness. Add in a slender coffee table or a couple of side tables for added functionality.
If you have more space, consider a classic two- or three-piece sofa and armchair combo in a more solid, upholstered style. Need extra storage? Seek out a sofa with handy hidden storage in the base.
Make your outdoor space every bit as comfortable as your indoor one with deep, cushioned seating and wide armrests. Colour-wise, charcoal, all shades of grey and muted neutrals are currently trending – plus they’re easy to update down the track with cushions and throws in seasonal colours and prints.
Natural materials like rattan and wicker are a hardwearing and versatile way to create a cosy atmosphere, as pictured in the Sorrento Grand.
5. Classic Contemporary
For an outdoor style that’s all about character and charm, embrace a Classic Contemporary look. If you have a modern interior, it also makes the perfect partner, allowing you to seamlessly connect your indoor and outdoor spaces.
Natural woven rattan or wicker tables, chairs and recliners work beautifully with this look, but only if your alfresco space is protected from the elements as they can be damaged by exposure to rain and sun. Characterful reclaimed teak is another appealing addition to the Classic Contemporary look that works best undercover. If your furniture will be exposed to the elements, opt for hardy all-weather synthetic rattan, which gives you the look of the real thing in an outdoor-friendly material.
Choose seating with gently curved lines and a solid feel for a look that’s cosy and cocooning. A glass or tempered glass table top provides a sleek finish and is easy to wipe clean after guests have gone home for the evening.
All that’s left to do is step outside and create some lasting memories!