Transform your outside space with practical yet stylish garden furniture to make the most of outdoor living
Give your garden a tropical twist with this fun tiki bar, sure to be the main attraction of any summer party. Tiki bar with bar stools, £575, John Lewis
There’s a huge range of garden furniture available on the market as we come into the summer season and something to suit every space, no matter how big or small, rural or urban. Begin by measuring and marking out where you want the new furniture to be positioned, to avoid buying something overly big which could take over the garden. If it’s a dining table and chairs you’re after, an important factor to consider is how many people you want to be able to seat at one time; if it’s just the two of you, a compact bistro set might be the answer, whereas if getting the whole family together is a priority, opt for something extendable that will suit any occasion.
Informal alfresco seating comes into its own during the warmer months and encourages outdoor living. Garden sofas and benches offer a spot to soak up the evening sun and act as a second family room; pop on a few outdoor cushions and kit out your patio with a firepit to create a welcoming space that everyone will want to spend time in. For smaller gardens or courtyards, a hanging swing seat will be the main attraction and won’t eat into floor space as much as a bulky chair or lounger.
Ideal for smaller spaces, this compact dining set includes comfortable seat cushions and the stools can be neatly tucked away beneath the table when not in use. Hampton rattan four-seater cube garden dining set, £649, The Cotswold Company
Choosing the material of outdoor furniture depends on both the aesthetic value as well as practicality. Ever-popular wooden sets fit into most outside settings but some types of wood are better suited to the outdoors than others. Durable teak is a common choice thanks to its waterproof qualities, whereas oak and pine require a lot more care throughout the year and will need treating with oil or varnish. Synthetic rattan and wicker pieces are also well-suited to outdoor environments and can withstand rain and sun making them a practical choice. Metal furniture is generally easy to care for and is as equally as popular as wooden. Some of the most favoured materials include aluminium (it won’t rust in the elements so requires little to no maintenance) and patinated zinc (which will create a beautifully tarnished effect over time).
Upgrade your outdoor seating without breaking the bank; this corner lounger sofa comes with a coffee table and padded outdoor cushions. Corner lounger rattan effect, £300, Wilko
This industrial-style dining table and bench set features a cement fibre atop an acacia wood frame. Chilson concrete table and bench set, £1,850, Garden Trading
If your garden furniture is looking a little worn after enduring the cold and wet winter, set aside a day or two to get it ready for use and back into tip-top condition. Always choose a dry, calm day to tackle this project, as wet or windy conditions will throw up problems as you work. For plastic or synthetic materials, simply wipe down the surfaces with soap and water to remove the build up of grime. Wooden furniture requires different levels of care depending on the wood type so it’s important to check the material before starting.
While away the long summer evenings on a terrace or balcony with this casual seating set up. Faux rattan outdoor armchair, £175 each; faux rattan outdoor side table, £40, both Cox & Cox
Durable hardwoods, such as teak or eucalyptus, need to be washed with a brush and soapy water to get rid of any algae and you may wish to coat teak with a layer of varnish once a year to help retain its original colour (as it will naturally fade to a lighter grey).
Softer woods need cleaning more regularly and should be sealed annually with a good-quality protector to help give them a weatherproof layer and avoid rot infecting the wood due to damp. To maintain metal furniture, clean thoroughly with a brush and water and check for any signs of rust. Remove the rust using a rust-remover to strip it back to the bare metal and then repaint using a specialist exterior metal paint.