Picking the right pieces for your deck, porch or yard may seem like simple business. However, if you take a moment to think about the space you create in the great outdoors, much more should go into it than just choosing furniture at random. For a good part of the year in Virginia (especially in Spring and Summer), your outdoor space becomes not only an extension of your house, but probably the most popular room among your family and your guests. How many summer nights do you spend grilling dinners, toasting beers or just sitting, listening to the crickets and watching for fireflies? And though this may be a somewhat sad statement to make, our little piece of earth may be the closest we can get with nature in the current times of busy jobs, busier families and hectic schedules.
However, if your garden is where you connect with nature, turn it inton something which would make Frances Hodgson Burnett jealous. We can’t help you mow your lawn, or plant flowers in the soil, but we can aid you in choosing which furniture is just right for you and your spot in the sun.
If wood is what you’re looking for, we have a variety to choose from. Wood is a great choice, as the right kind weathers well and is very tactile. There are really only two kinds of wood which we would recommend for long-term outdoor use – teak and ipe. Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis and its wood products. Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Burma and Malaysia, but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including those in Africa and the Caribbean. Burma accounts for nearly one third of the world’s total teak production. It’s prudent for us to mention that there are a lot of teak `wannabe’s’ out there including woods like acacia and shorea. There is also `bad teak’ which is also usually from Burma and is technically not allowed to be imported into the US because it is improperly harvested and not grown under a reliable government organized replanting system. It is reasons like these which demonstrate how important it is to know who you’re purchasing your furniture from.
Some of our favorite teak pieces for you are:
The Axis Collection, by Gloster. Axis combines the enduring quality of fine teak with modern design to make a beautiful piece of furniture and is a complete collection including dining chairs, tables, deep seating and occasional pieces. Cushions are available in a large selection of fabrics and are priced separately.
The Kore Table, also by Gloster. Kore combines the enduring quality of fine teak with stainless steel to make a beautiful piece of furniture and the table measures 58 ½” in diameter and has an integrated Lazy Susan. The Kore Table seats 6 comfortably and marries well with Fusion chairs but can be used with a number of Gloster seating options.
And a comfier favorite, the Sequoia Two-Seater Sofa. This sofa is both available for and suitable for residential and commercial settings. Cushions are available in a large selection of appropriate fabrics in different grades.
Ipe wood has been used for years in decks. It is much harder than teak and therefore it can be a real bear to work but it is a beautiful wood. Ipe is imported from from South America and in our case, is totally SFC (Sustainable Furnishings Council) and FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) approved. One of our favorite manufacturers we have here, is Jensen Leisure. By using only FSC certified wood, Jensen Leisure Furniture is working to maintain the long-term well-being of the forests and the people who depend on them. By adhering to the standards set forth by the SFC and FSC, they are also helping to conserve the rainforest and enhance the standard of living in its surrounding communities. The company has a great slideshow about their background here, and we recommend that if you have a moment, you check it out!
Metal furniture has been around for ages. There are several ways in which metals can be used. Steel is relatively inexpensive but is not impervious to the weather. This has been resolved by some higher-end companies using powder-coat finishes. Other metals you’ll find on our floors are stainless steel and aluminum. There are a lot of grades of stainless steel and even the best are subject to some pitting and weathering from salt. Fortunately, being as far from the ocean as we are this is not normally an issue. However, it is important that you know that `not all stainless is equal’.
The Jupiter chair is a compact and stylish piece that can be married to multiple table options. We stock Jupiter in Silver powder-coated frame with white and with black mesh and all the arm caps are made of teak. These chairs are also great because they’re stackable.
The Boston sling chair provides great comfort for the outdoor dining experience. We stock Boston in Royal brown frame with khaki sling or in textured white frame with white sling. Boston can be used with a multitude of table options but we especially like to see it married to the Lisbon table series. (As seen below!)
There is a lot of synthetic rattan out there these days. Really, this has replaced true rattan as it is a plastic weave that can be made in many styles, shapes, and colors. Unfortunately there is a lot of really cheap synthetic rattan on the market which has degraded the category, so again it’s important to know and trust where you’re buying from. The beauty of synthetic rattan is its durability and, if it is a quality woven product in the first place, then it will weather well.
There are a slew of plastic options out there, but like stainless steel, not all are created equal! Just about all of our higher-end Italian plastic can be used outdoors. What you are looking for is durability, color- fastness, strength, and design. Good plastic will retain its color, shape and strength if it is properly made. Some of our plastic favorites are the Bubble or Masters Chairs by Kartel, or the various selections from Bontempi.
We hope that we’ve helped you wade the waters of the final furniture frontier that is outdoor furniture! Please let us know in the comments if you have any further questions, or do come visit us – we have tons of options for you and even more anwers about what would best suit you and your outdoor space.