How to Choose Outdoor Furniture for Real Life Challenges
Maybe you spent all winter fantasizing about the backyard parties you’ll throw when spring arrives. Now that it’s finally warm enough to make that happen, you’re ready to buy outdoor furniture. Great! But you’ll want to select pieces that live up to your dreams and stand up to the unique challenges of your family and entertaining space. See if any of these scenarios resembles yours, and use the guidelines to get your backyard party-ready.
If It’s Super Sunny
Frames: Wrought iron and cast aluminum are beautiful, but they create literal hot seats. Try materials like synthetic wicker or rattan that are treated to withstand UV rays, or a tough wood, like teak.
Fabrics: Fading is your foe, and it happens fast. Choose fabrics treated to withstand UV rays.
Accessories: Shade makers, like umbrellas, sun sails, and even trellises and gazebos are excellent sunny-garden accessories. Use them to create visual interest and create cooler zones in your yard.
If You Have Kids
Frames: Furniture-flopping teens will appreciate sturdy choices, like cast aluminum, in styles without a lot of sharp corners. Think about softer frames, in plastic or synthetic wicker or rattan, for little kids. You could also skip the frame altogether and use outdoor poufs, rugs, and cushions.
Fabrics: Look out for webbed materials—they’re easy to wash and quick drying, but the weave can become a trap for small hands and feet.
Accessories: Whatever you pick should be unbreakable. And of course, stay away from small things young kids can put in their mouths.
If It’s Crazy-Windy
Frames: Most large items, like sofas or dining tables, will stay put when the wind really blows. But for smaller items, consider options with heavier frames like wood, wrought iron, and cast aluminum.
Fabrics: Look for cushions that are either firmly attached or easily removed to prevent fly-aways. Wind can carry debris, so double-check that your fabric is easy to clean and smooth enough not to snag onto a stray twig.
Accessories: Umbrellas should have sturdy ties, so they don’t accidentally open in a storm.
If You Have Pets
Frames: Chewers might find woven rattan and wicker irresistible. You might want to go with something solid your pet can’t sink his teeth into. Got scratchers? Take note that wrought iron can rust, if you don’t treat scratches.
Fabric: You need to be able to clean it easily, as with any pet-friendly material. Be careful about mesh, which can be enticing to nibbling pups and may trap paws.
Accessories: Look for accessories that won’t topple and shatter, if a squirrel causes a sudden chase scene.
If It’s Woodsy
Frames: Surrounded by nature? Skip frames with lots of nooks that can trap pollen, and opt for styles with clean lines instead.
Fabrics: Think about materials you can either spray down with a hose or simply wipe clean.
Accessories: Seek out things that are sleek, smooth, and easy to dust.
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