Gone are the days when we had a general contractor build a porch exclusively to house a couple of wooden rocking chairs to sit on. The outdoor furniture market has exploded in recent years and the sky is the limit when it comes to what is available for your deck, patio or porch.
Aesthetically, the trends are for this year are very similar to those of 2011. However, the main developments for 2012 are in comfort, utility and mechanics and cover style, materials, function and environmental awareness.
One of the big trends at the moment is for outdoor furniture to look and feel like indoor furniture. In fact, many pieces are multi-purpose and can be used indoors or out. These types of pieces are great for a porch or a deck right off the living room, as they tend to create flow from one area to the other.
We’re seeing outdoor sofas, sectionals, club chair chairs, big comfy chairs, and outdoor daybeds in various materials and colors. There are even companies coming out with ergonomic swivel rockers that adapt to your body. And for your feet, why not indulge in an outdoor carpet or area rug?
Wicker furniture made of wider weaves/thicker strands, looks more inviting.
Maintenance tip: many of the materials that are being used currently last very well but it is a good idea to move your furniture out of the elements or invest in furniture covers for the winter to make your pieces last longer.
Instead of having matchy-matchy sets made of the same materials and using the same fabric, this year’s tendency is to mix and match materials. For example, you could use a wood-look aluminum dining table (which gives you the look of wood without the maintenance and greater longevity) along with synthetic wicker chairs.
There is no need to sit on nylon webbing anymore; not with the wide variety of outdoor cushions and fabrics that are available. Good quality outdoor fabrics like those from Sunbrella are water-repellant, fade-resistant and weather-resistant. There are even throws and rugs that are especially made for outdoor use. Plus, Sunbrella has a great environmental track record and is an innovator in their field.
Consumer trends continue to support environmentally friendly outdoor furniture as more and more people look for items that are made of reclaimed wood, recycled materials and resins.
A great example of eco-friendly lawn furniture is woven chairs made of synthetic wicker. Let’s be clear: not all synthetics are made equally, however. The cheaper synthetics are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is less durable and emits toxic compounds over its lifetime that are bad for your health and for the environment. Instead, look for all weather wicker furniture that is made from polyethylene. Good quality synthetic wicker furniture will be stain resistant and have UV proofing to help it resist fading and becoming brittle. This is one situation where being an informed consumer and asking the right questions will pay off.
If you’re looking to furnish your outdoor living area, the best thing to do is to look for pieces that you love, that are well made and that will last a long time. Once you’ve chosen your amazing new outdoor furniture, you may just decide to talk to you home improvement specialist about upgrading or repairing your existing deck, porch or patio so that it lives up to those new pieces!