Last updated on July 19th, 2019
According to the American Institute of Architects, outdoor living spaces are the most popular special-function room among homeowners. So much so that our outdoor space has become an extension of our indoor environment, with features that include gourmet kitchens, bars, electronics, fireplaces, hot tubs, pools, decks, gazebos, and more. With so much going on, it can be difficult to determine how to arrange patio furniture and the best way to furnish these areas. To help, we’ve outlined some exterior decorating tips to guide you through the process of selecting and arranging your outdoor furniture.
Outdoor Materials Matter
When decorating the interior of your home, some of the main material considerations include durability, comfort, and style. The same holds true when it comes to furnishing the outside. The only difference is, your furniture needs to withstand the outdoor elements. While no furniture is completely weather-proof, some materials do the job better than others. Top materials choices for your outdoor space include synthetic wicker, also called resin wicker, teak, aluminum, and stainless steel. When it comes to upholstery, it is hard to beat Sunbrella fabrics, which are resistant to fading, degradation, mildew, and mold. They also come in dozens of colors and patterns, making it easy to select a look that complements your overall décor.
Determining the Best Furniture Arrangement
In Family-Friendly Outdoor Living Spaces, we discuss the different ways you can utilize your outdoor space by creating areas for entertaining, cooking, dining, and gathering. The function, shape, and size of each area lends itself to different types of furniture and requires the thoughtful placement of each piece. In all cases, it is important to maintain the overall traffic flow by keeping pathways open and arranging furniture in a way that helps direct people through an area.
Covered decks and patios are popular places to entertain. While ample, comfortable seating is a necessity, you don’t want to overcrowd the space with furniture. A sofa and two chairs, centered by a coffee table, is a foolproof layout that works in almost any space. To accommodate more people, two loveseats or a sectional, coupled with a mix of chairs and end tables, makes an inviting arrangement. A large deck or patio can be made to feel more intimate by creating several conversation areas, each of which can be further defined by an outdoor area rug.
Outdoor Kitchen and Dining
The kitchen, whether indoors or out, always seems to attract a crowd. If you have the space, a large bar or island with plenty of bar stools is ideal for your outdoor dining area. Another option is to strategically place some bar tables and chairs around the space, leaving room for people to walk through. Placing your outdoor dining table nearby also gives people a place to have a drink before or after dinner. Use of cushioned chairs further encourage your guests to utilize the dining table beyond the meal.
Pools and Firepits
Pools and firepits are popular gathering places. Here, the feature piece acts as the center of your furniture arrangement. Around a pool, place several reclining lounge chairs on the far side with end tables in between. The rest of the area can be used for the placement of conversation seating and umbrella-shaded tables and chairs. Around firepits, the seating arrangement should mimic the shape of the pit. Circular sofas are perfect for round firepits or you can evenly space chairs around the area, leaving enough space for people to easily get in and out. If the firepit is square, place a chair at each corner instead. For rectangular fireplaces, keep it cozy by placing a love seat or sofa on each long side and a chair or two on the shorter sides. A sectional can also be used on one side to accommodate more people.
Outdoor furniture plays an important role in determining where people will gather and how they will flow through your space. No matter how you choose to arrange your patio furniture, visual unity is important. This can be accomplished by using complementary furniture materials and fabrics. Keeping your interior décor in mind when making your selections also helps ensure continuity between the two living spaces.