Home & Garden

How to select the right furniture for your outdoor oasis

Imagine your ideal outdoor space. It might be a fabulous resort, stretching out on a pristine white chaise longue with the Mediterranean blue as a brilliant backdrop.

Or a foliage-framed jungle of a garden, where you’ve set up a rainbow-colored, festive fringed hammock for swinging or just lying still.

Or a country garden, blooming with roses and hydrangeas on the edge of a patio outfitted with cozy seating — outdoor wicker plumped with cushy pillows.

Or a manicured bluestone terrace, framed by tall galvanized pots brimming with boxwood, the backdrop for a straight-lined, tailored sectional.

No matter what style you prefer, or what kind of landscape you can create (depending on size and budget), comfort remains the key to outdoor room design. It doesn’t even matter how big the space is, because you can create ambience even on a condo balcony with ingredients as simple as an attractive, snug chair and some sort of side table for a margarita, guacamole and chips, or summer reading.

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

▪ Go bold. Choose a color or a pattern that makes a statement. It can be grand – on a sofa, a chair, ottoman or pouf. Or small – with an accessory like pillows, a lantern, melamine dinnerware or a planter.

▪ Mix it up. More and more we’re seeing two different materials combined in one piece: teak plus resin (even in color at West Elm), teak plus metal or even concrete-like synthetics. Or you can become your own mixologist by teaming stone, mosaic or synthetic concrete side tables, or porcelain planters, with teak or wovens.

▪ Give me shelter. If you’ve got the space, there’s an outdoor four-poster at Pottery barn that looks like a bed framed by a pergola, complete with canopy, framing curtains and even lanterns hung inside. Chairs or chairs and a half that are scoop for nesting or even those that cradle with hoods or canopies offer cool outdoor getaways.

▪ Gray is the new beige. Just like indoors, gray is gaining traction in outdoor furniture. It goes with just about any color – especially citron, mustard and hot pink – and the green landscape pops behind it.

▪ Try white. Nothing beats it for pristine style, especially with a modern profile, as in Restoration Hardware’s new Marbella aluminum collection.

▪ Get in the swing. From traditional gliders, like metal or a French country style wing in black matte powder-coated aluminum with a chunky natural-colored vinyl wave from Lloyd Flanders, to exotic hybrids (a hammock chair from CB2), these offer sheer retro enjoyment.

▪ Have some fun. Outdoor poufs can add a playful touch — especially when you choose a graphic pattern, such as starfish or octopi or giant coral. The puffy vinyl inflatable Air Flower chair in a hot fuchsia shade by Roche Bobois is like a sculptural, sheer beanbag.

▪ Add warmth. There are many types of fire pits and bowls, and now cocktail tables with linear fire down the center. Some even come with covers to extend the surface when you’re not using the fire feature.

▪ Add water. Even if you don’t have room for a pool or a pond, consider a water feature like an urn or a fountain with a recirculating pump. Some even have LED lights. Just the sound of trickling water is so soothing.

▪ Layer in some lights. The verdict is still out on outdoor lamps — table, floor, chandeliers. Some draw the line with this indoor-out feature, preferring the romance and glow of candles. With the burn-free variety, there’s no mess or worry about the light being blown out by wind. Some light strands have decorative covers; others featuring Edison-like bulbs and the battery-operated mini LED strings so popular in cloches indoors during Christmas are finding their way outdoors, transforming the night garden on trees, umbrellas or pergolas. Lanterns also have escalated in popularity, offering a variety of materials and finishes, in stainless, rusted iron, black or powder-coated aluminum, from rustic to ethnic to sleek.

Once your new pieces are in place, settle in. Revel in the sun-kissed outdoors – and the sheer bliss of daydreaming in your oasis all summer long.

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