Choosing outdoor furniture can certainly be a whirlwind; there’s so many options available and things to think about, where do you even start? It’s important to get it right because outdoor furniture isn’t something you want to be replacing every few months, or even every year, but it’s definitely something that you need to love and that does the job you need. Think of your garden as an extension to your house, you wouldn’t choose any old furniture for your interior, so why should you for the exterior? Our buyer’s guide to choosing outdoor furniture will take you through the key things you need to consider, so you’ll go away knowing exactly where and what to start with.
Tubular steel is certainly a sleek and classy option for outdoor furniture, turning your outdoor space into your very own trendy inner-city café. Often tubular steel can be shaped easily so you tend to get better-designed outdoor furniture for ergonomics and comfort. Choosing outdoor furniture is not only about choosing the look but choosing something that will do its job. Tubular steel is in fact particularly durable and low maintenance so it won’t take much looking after, but over time, it will eventually rust.
FSC Certified Wood
Another option is wooden furniture – of course you can choose all kinds of wooden outdoor furniture, but we will stick to talking about FSC certified wood as we believe that is very much the way forward. FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council, who promote responsible forestry. They certify forests all over the world to ensure they meet the highest standards when it comes to the environment and social factors, this means that when choosing outdoor furniture, if you see FSC certified wood, you’re assured it has come from an FSC certified forest. Wooden outdoor furniture is chic and timeless, most often a comfortable option and long lasting when cared for adequately. However, it does take maintenance, usually only annually, but that is something to think about.
Powder-coated metal is similar to tubular steel for the fact that it offers a sleek and classy look to your garden, but the powder-coated touch means it is more resistant to chipping, cracking, and fading so aesthetically, it will please for longer. This also makes it more rust proof unless the powder-coating does chip. Metal can often be a heavier option when choosing outdoor furniture, so it’s not the best material if you know you’ll be needing to move it around – but of course, this does mean it’s a particularly stable option when battling the elements.
If you’re choosing outdoor furniture on a budget, polypropylene plastic will most likely be what you’re looking for. Zero maintenance is required for this material, and they are immensely durable against the elements – besides wind, being particularly lightweight they can’t hold their ground too well! Their durability makes it a particularly great material for kids’ furniture because it can handle whatever gets thrown at them and will last a long time. However, a disadvantage is that plastic outdoor furniture isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing and can be uncomfortable to use if they’ve heated up in the sun.
The main thing to think about when choosing outdoor furniture is what and who are you catering for? If you know you want to purchase a dining set, you love a bit of al fresco dining or being able to have drinks outside – a dining set is certainly what you need. This doesn’t always mean a huge 8 seater, chunky table, there are many dining sets available to you. Firstly, think about who will be using it? Do you tend to host gatherings regularly or is it just for your household? It is always a good option to buy a bigger set than you need so you have spare chairs for those surprising guests. In terms of the table, the amount of people may also dictate the shape you should choose; a rectangle table can often squeeze more people around it but a round one can be more sociable. Then think about the extras, would it be beneficial to be able to have a parasol with it? Do I have somewhere to store it away or will it stay outside?
Then there is what may seem like a whole other category – choosing kids’ outdoor furniture! Rest assured, kids’ outdoor furniture is relatively easy to choose, pick something plastic, brightly coloured, and affordable. We al know children go through things at the speed of light, no wonder how durable something may be, so there’s no point spending lots of money to just have to replace it. Choosing outdoor furniture that is bright and fun catches and hopefully keeps their attention, so they’ll be happy with something you bought for them rather than always wanting what you’ve got!
Perhaps you know you’re just looking for some seating – there’s also plenty to think about with this! You need to decide what you’re choosing this outdoor furniture for, the practicalities. Do you want sturdy, upright chairs that allow you to sit around the table and enjoy a hearty meal? Have you always got friends round sitting in the garden and you want some cool and stylish chairs? Or are you looking for outdoor furniture that allows you to relax, to soak up some rays and let the world go round? Another aspect to consider is if you’re choosing outdoor furniture that is just for the garden, or if you need seating that you can pack up and take away, let’s say for a beach day or a camping trip.
Just for fun!
Maybe you're looking for some outdoor furniture that's a bit more fun - letting you relax as and when you have time and the weather allows. We all need a bit of this from time to time. Live the dream, relaxing in your outdoor space in true South American style with a hammock. Cosy up with some blankets as the evening goes on, read a book, sip your gin and let the world go by.
Larger outdoor spaces
When you’re choosing outdoor furniture for larger outdoor spaces (yes that’s the dream!) you do have a bit more freedom to choose what you like regarding size. You can get that chunky 8-seater dining table, with spare chairs, have a cantilever parasol to the side and a fire pit nearby – who says you only need to choose one piece of outdoor furniture! However, you do want to be mindful you don’t just pack lots of things in and then actually have no room to move around or do anything other than sit, the last thing you want is a luscious big space, but then be banging elbows or cramping chairs up against the fence.
Smaller outdoor spaces
However, not all of us have the luxury of a big outdoor space, some people only have balconies to work with – and that’s ok, you can still choose stylish and practical outdoor furniture. The most important thing is to recognise your smaller space and work with it; you still need to be able to open the doors to your outdoor space, walk around, and hang the washing. Bistro table sets are the perfect dining set for balconies and particularly small outdoor spaces, and they really do give you that trendy inner city, Parisian feel. Or foldaway outdoor furniture can be useful so you fill the space when needed but can store it elsewhere when the space is needed for something else.
Choosing outdoor furniture isn’t only about the tables and chairs – it’s the whole package of what facilitates you spending time in your outdoor space. Living in a country with such unpredictable weather, it’s always handy to have some kind of parasol or shade so you get that protection from showers, but also protection on those days the sun does decide to beam down. Parasols are great because they don’t have to take up much space, you can slot them in the middle of your table and you’ve still got the same surrounding space, however, it may be that you need a parasol that stands alone or is lightweight enough to take to and from the beach. Instead, you might be wanting something that covers an area without taking up any floor space (ideal for kids’ play areas), in this case, sun shades are your best bet.Parasols & Shades
Another way to facilitate your time outside is by ensuring your comfort! Cushions, whether for chairs or sun loungers, are a great way to add some comfort and style to your outdoor furniture. This gives you another way to add a pinch of your own style, if you love bright and bold colours for your black furniture or you want to keep the neutral, chic look of your wooden furniture you can do so with your cushions. Remember that you’ll need to keep your cushions out of the bad weather, so ensure you’ve got somewhere to store them.Cushions
Cosy up your outdoor space with some fire pits and outdoor lighting – we all love starring into orange flickering flames and that heart-warming feeling of kinship a campfire evokes. You could choose to create a centrepiece in your garden with a fire pit for cosy evenings under the stars relaxing with a hot chocolate or surrounded by your loved ones and plenty of empty bottles of wine. If a fire pit sounds too much for your outdoor space, you could outline your garden, or just add a few subtle spots of light with some lanterns; these may be delicate tea light lanterns or even Tiki Torches and choose a tropical or industrial feel.Fire Pits & Outdoor Lighting
Top tips when choosing outdoor furniture
- Consider who you're catering for, how often it will be used, and what it is you want to do in your outdoor space
- Keep in mind what you're willing to do to take care of your outdoor furniture
- Be reasonable with the space available to you
- Choose outdoor furniture that suits your style; your outdoor space is an extension of your home!
The classic summer beach chair… ideal for soaking up the sun anywhere, our Folding Metal Beach Chair comes in a variety of colours, so you can choose if you love a sleek black look or a classic Brighton beach red and white stripe design. With a 19mm tubular steel frame and high-density reinforced fabric seat, you’ve got the optimum blend of lightness and durability for a seat that is designed to least far longer than any traditional canvas seat.Folding Metal Beach Chair by Harbour Housewares
A garden parasol is the perfect outdoor accessory whether relaxing on a quiet day or gathering all the family or an al fresco set up. Our Wooden Garden Parasol can be bought with or without the base and in a selection of colours, including green, cream, and grey. The 3.8cm hardwood pole is finished with a metallic accent for a premium, contemporary finish that looks sleek and modern with your outdoor furniture. A water repellent polyester canvas ensures you season-long strength and protection in all weathers, and when that weather does suddenly change the pulley operated opening is a single person operation with 3 simple opening positions.Wooden Garden Parasol by Harbour Housewares
Choosing outdoor furniture has never been so simple once you see our Black Metal Garden Armchairs. With a powder-coated framework and texteline canvas seat, you’ve got a pairing of sleek contemporary styling and season-long durability and performance – oh and comfort! There’s no need to worry about the unpredictability of British weather, the water repellent finish allows quick drying, so you’ll be back to sitting in your outdoor furniture before you know it. These garden armchairs are also available as a dining set.Metal Garden Armchairs by Harbour Housewares