If you’re lucky enough to have a garden – or even a sliver of a balcony – show it the appreciation it deserves and decorate it properly with garden furniture that you actually like. We can all do better than emergency stacking chairs covered in cobwebs and, contrary to what you might have read (garden furniture seems to create a hype only comparable to flour in lockdown), there are still plenty of great styles available to buy for this summer.
First off, let’s get the uncomfortable truth out of the way. We all know it, so we’re just going to say it; garden furniture is expensive. Weirdly expensive at times. We only point that out because if it’s your first rodeo with an outdoor sofa or patio table, it might come as a surprise to discover you need to budget as if you were furnishing an interior space. And that’s kind of the point. Done well, your garden or balcony will look and feel just as considered, comfortable and appealing as a room in your house.
Where can I buy garden furniture?
You can buy garden furniture from most of your favourite homeware brands, so don’t limit yourself to the nearest garden centre. Not only will high-street furniture retailers usually have their own collections of outdoor furniture, but you can look beyond the “garden” section of their website as long as the materials are right. Providing you can store them away from the rain; most rattan and bamboo chairs can be used outside throughout summer, likewise with furniture that happens to be weatherproof, such as powder-coated steel chairs, glossy ceramic side tables or plastic furniture such as the sought-after Selene chairs from Vico Magistretti.
How do I decorate my garden with furniture?
The best way to approach decorating your outside space is to treat it like any other room and create different zones for different uses (if space allows). It’s easy to do this through the placement of furniture; use an outdoor sofa as a visual barrier to define a living area, or create a cosy focal point with a fire pit or chiminea and lounge chairs. If you don’t have a textural break between grass and paving, or different levels, use raised beds and freestanding planters to help zone your garden “rooms”.
Just an important note on lead times: it’s not unusual for higher-end brands (or newly-launched styles) to have lead times of anywhere between 8-24 weeks, meaning you’ll be in wool jackets and boots by the time they arrive. With that in mind, we’ve intentionally only chosen pieces that are available for delivery this summer. Though, be quick as in-stock styles always sell out quickly.
Book a holiday at home with the ultimate seasonal garden accessory: a sun lounger. As long as you’ve got the storage space to keep them dry during winter, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of a fluffy beach towel on a lounger and a glass of something cold.
Garden lounge chairs
Where are you going to sit and toast the marshmallows that you bought for your new firebowl if you don’t have a pair of really comfortable lounge chairs for your garden? They’re the workhorses of the summer and if chosen well, the colour and material will really complement your planting.
Bistro table set
If you’ve only got a small patio or balcony to luxuriate on with your morning croissant (squint and it could be the South of France), you need a neat little bistro table and chairs set. Even the tiniest terrace deserves an al fresco dining spot.
For true indoor-outdoor luxury and popularity amongst sun-worshipping friends, an outdoor sofa is the piece to buy. Why flop in front of the TV on a sunny day when you can lounge outside with a book? A garden sofa is also a really useful way to zone separate areas in a larger garden as they create a visual space divider.
Garden benches are more versatile than we give them credit for. A good bench can be used as a styling accessory (an outdoor space feels more complete and welcoming when there’s a bench of some sort), but they can also pitch in at BBQs and be used as dining benches, or lay a seat pad across one and a bunch of cushions to use it as a sofa-lite if you’re short on space.
Garden dining chairs
Outdoor dining chairs are a good way to exercise your personal taste in a garden because the choice is so vast. If space or storage is an issue, look for styles that stack or fold, or even better, weather-proof designs that don’t need to be covered at the first sight of a raindrop.
Garden dining tables
Your garden table is going to attract a huge amount of attention, so getting the style right for the size of your space and the way you’ll use it is crucial, the dominance of an outdoor dining table is also why it’s worth investing in a style that you love. A perk of buying your table separately – rather than in a set – is the opportunity to mix and match your table and chairs to create the look you want.
Now, no show-off garden is considered finessed unless you come across some cleverly placed outdoor accessories (yes, really). From outdoor rugs like this favourite of Beata Heuman, to vintage-inspired parasols and terracotta pots – consider these the finishing touches to your green oasis.
Swinging chairs, deck chairs and hammocks
If your home is styled to perfection with minimal print and pattern, but you need to scratch that whimsical furniture itch, that’s where the humble hammock, deck chair or swinging chair comes in. They look cool and they’re the perfect way to experiment with texture and colour.
Side tables & coffee tables
If you’re more of a casual morning coffee than a dinner a deux kind of person and you don’t need a full outdoor dining set up, then invest in a side table or coffee table instead and pair it with a couple of lounge chairs. And even if you have a proper dining table and chairs, an outdoor sofa or sun lounger without a side table is a spilled margarita waiting to happen.
Outdoor storage is surprisingly tricky to find, and it’s especially troublesome to find aesthetically pleasing, practical versions. It’s an easy one to overlook when you’re budgeting for garden furniture but without it, your seat cushions would be soggy and your trowels, plant food and compost would have nowhere to go. And don’t even get us started on wheelie bins.