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Outdoor Living
By Carol McGarvey
HOME TRENDS June/July 2017
home :: home & garden :: home trends

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Outdoor Living

The possibilities for outdoor furniture and accessories are growing rapidly.

Ah, summer. Even after a mild winter, Iowans eagerly anticipate the outdoor possibilities that come with summer. Baseball. Bike rides. Long walks. Outdoor dining. Evenings on the deck.

To make those alfresco activities even more enjoyable, manufacturers and designers offer outdoor furnishing products that go far beyond the wicker and wrought iron that used to be the only options.

Take a look at some of these ideas to expand your summer possibilities and freshen up your outdoor living space.

Furnishings

The biggest change in the furnishing category is what all the manufacturers are offering, according to Lisa Greth of Fireplace Stone and Patio. “The trend is definitely toward bringing the indoors out,” she says. “Manufacturers are designing furniture and accessory products that feel like indoor pieces but can stand up to outside use.”

Because homeowners truly want their outdoor living space to be livable, most deck and patio furniture has the look of sofas and chairs rather than traditional deck furniture. Deep cushions, throw pillows, and side tables add to that indoor feel. “Deep seating, more contemporary designs, slim lines—these are so much more common now,” Greth says.

In fact, the majority of outdoor furnishings in stores this year boast “furniture styling,” although standard wicker and wrought iron are still readily available and popular.

Leeward collection

Materials

In order to achieve an indoor look, manufacturers have benefited from advances in technology. The man-made products on the market today have the appearance of natural materials but nearly lifetime durability. “Even fabrics today are much more durable than they used to be,” adds Greth. “At Fireplace Stone and Patio, all our cushions are made of Sunbrella fabric, which resists fading and the effects of weather.”

Although these treated fabrics are water-resistant and weather-resistant and can be left outdoors, manufacturers and retailers recommend bringing cushions inside when possible to minimize any potential for damage. Greth says, “We also use cushions made of reticulated foam, which drains the water out faster so that the cushions hold their shape longer and don’t retain water for long periods of time.”

Materials such as resin wicker, recycled plastic, and treated woods offer weather-resistant options not available from natural products. Other materials, including aluminum and wrought iron, and even concrete offer even more design possibilities with their own unique care and maintenance considerations. Your selection is based on the look you are trying to achieve.

Space

No matter what your style, Greth advises evaluating your space before shopping for furniture. “Determine how much space you have to work with, how you’ll use it, and what other factors you need to consider. Is it a covered porch, a deck, a patio? All of those things help determine the best type of product for your needs.”

You may love the look of a sofa and chairs, but if your deck or patio is narrow, a love seat and smaller chairs may be a better choice. If your outdoor space is not covered, you’ll want to choose a much more durable product or look into ways to cover the space, perhaps with an umbrella, awning, or pergola.

Also, would you like to use the space beyond the warm summer months? “We have propane tank, movable fire pits that are very versatile,” Greth says. “You can even use them on a deck or a covered porch.”

Some homeowners truly extend their living space outdoors with outdoor kitchens, televisions, and lighting.

Most experts and designers will tell you the only limits on outdoor living space are your budget and your time. How much do you want to spend? How much work do you want to do? How involved do you want to be in the work? How soon do you want to use the space?

“No matter how you want to use the space, you can find furniture and accessories to suit your style and your budget,” Greth says.

Whether you want to spend every waking moment outside or just have the perfect space for entertaining, retailers such as Fireplace Stone and Patio are ready to help you make this the summer to remember.

 

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