Regardless of whether you have a long, lush garden or a courtyard the size of a postage stamp, there's nothing quite like enjoying your own outside space at home. It's great garden furniture ideas that make anything possible. From watching the morning bird brigade from a bistro table breakfast spot or relaxing on a swing seat with a good book – even sitting around a comfortable dining table where you can enjoy the warmer weather as you eat.
With the summer months approaching, it's never too early to start thinking about how you can make the most of your garden – starting with the best garden furniture.
Garden furniture ideas
From family get-togethers and alfresco evening dining to a solitary mid-morning coffee outdoors, our gardens have to work hard to accommodate all our needs. The type of outdoor furniture we choose is key to making any outdoor space more usable.
'Corner lounge sets and hanging chairs have been the most searched for items so far in 2022, as customers seek to bring the inside out,' says Rikke Blaeside, design and range manager at JYSK. 'In January 2022, we saw an incredible 375% increase in search volumes for garden items compared to the previous month of December.'
Of course, there's lots to think about, whether you're looking to buy a brand new seating set or mix in a few additional pieces with your existing furniture. What material should you go for, what type of furniture would work best, and how will it fare in the non-summer months? We've come up with a range of garden furniture ideas to give you some inspiration, as well as advice from the experts on how to care for your chosen pieces.
1. Create an outdoor living room
With our outdoor spaces often used as an extension of our homes, it's no surprise that we're turning them into replicas of the living space we have inside, ready for us to socialise, work and entertain. Think of these areas as you would an indoor living room, decorating with items such as an L-shaped sofa, coffee table, rugs and pouffes – even a mirror on the wall and layers of lighting.
'How you style the space and the furniture you choose needs to be adaptable to suit various purposes,' says JYSK's Rikke Blaeside. 'To create the ultimate outside living room, use furniture and accessories that are not traditionally associated with outdoors, such as soft furnishings like cushions and blankets. Adding lighting to the garden is also a key element of creating a cosy outside area. Using lights in a warm tone helps to create a warm, inviting atmosphere in a usually cooler environment.'
'You could also create zones and sectioned areas within the garden itself,' Rikke continues. 'Using outdoor rugs, fencing and furniture is a great way to zone off the different living areas from the rest of the outside to give the illusion of a distinctive, designated living space.'
2. Build bench seating
Built-in seating works beautifully if you have a compact garden, but smaller spaces aren't the only gardens they excel in… neat, minimalist lines gives this style of seating a modern look and can also provide additional storage should you want it.
When planning your seating, consider building planters into the top of the back rest for plants and shrubs, along with a lift-up seat lid to store cushions when not in use – and don't forget to make sure the seat itself is deep enough that it's comfortable whether you're sitting or laying on it!
3. Find room for a bistro table
Sometimes the spot that catches the most sun in the morning isn't the area you want your dining or sofa set to sit, so why not add a bistro table and chairs to the mix and use them to enjoy breakfast as the sun goes up, or a glass of wine at the end of the day?
Bistro sets also make a great choice for smaller outdoor spaces, when you don't have room for larger pieces of furniture. 'A compact space needn’t stop you from investing in garden furniture,' says Andy Baxter, MD at Maze. 'Bistro and bar sets work well, especially for city living, where a small patio or balcony is more common.'
This French-style furniture comes in many colours, so it's easy to choose one that works with your scheme, whether you're looking for a shade to blend in, or one to add a bright burst of vibrancy.
4. Enjoy entertaining with a bar
Having become increasingly popular in the last few years, a garden bar is just as fun whether you're serving up exotic cocktails to guests or mixing yourself a G&T for 'happy hour'. Of course, you can DIY a bar yourself by converting a shed or building your own garden tiki bar. But there's also some great ready-made options to buy, which you can personalise with a few bar signs, stools and drinks-related accessories.
Want the children to get involved too? Why not invest in a mixology set that they can use to whip up their own alcohol-free cocktails?
5. Style a pretty seating spot
Sometimes all you want is a place to sit and read or enjoy the sunshine, which is where a few individual chairs can come in handy – and if you choose ones that are lightweight, they can easily be moved to wherever you need them. Pull them out into the sun (or a shaded area), or use them as extra seating for dining, indoors or out, when needed.
Your garden chairs don't have to be formal to make a big impact, either. Here, a mix of metal and rattan gives the seating a relaxed feel, while a large coffee table offers a spot for drinks. Adding paper pompoms and an overhead hanging floral wreath gives the area a pretty feel, while cushions and lanterns in matching pastel shades add to the summer look.
6. Add impact with colourful furniture
Whether you're lucky enough to have a garden full of vibrant flowers and plants, or you're looking for a way to brighten up a courtyard or patio, use your garden furniture to give that added burst of colour. This large sofa and roomy chair boasts plenty of plump, coral-coloured cushions, while the slatted frame is made from solid FSC eucalyptus – all in a box-like, modern shape.
Already have a neutral-coloured sofa of choice? Why not invest in some new colourful outdoor cushions and a few blankets to liven it up this summer?
7. Incorporate a swing chair
What's a garden these days if you haven't got a hanging chair of some description? Stylish, comfortable and totally Instagrammable, there's nothing nicer than feeling the soft sway as you sit – or doze! – on a swinging chair.
One of the most popular shapes is the egg chair, which looks just as good indoors as it does out and features an open weave design and cocooning, pod-like seat. Ideal for patios, decking or even in a conservatory, as long as your swing chair has its own frame, then you can move it in and out as the weather dictates.
8. Lounge on an outdoor day bed
Create an area to relax with a daybed that you can lounge on, complete with a canopy overhead to offer shade when needed. Here, the space has been given an exotic feel, with bold spicy colours used on both the exterior wall behind and piles of luxurious cushions, while a large vibrant rug creates a carpet to step out onto. Natural materials for a side table and planters keeps it feeling relaxed rather than too formal.
'A simple way to add a softness to your outdoor space is through the addition of weatherproof rugs and cushions in bright colours, helping to further blur the lines of inside and out,' says Rikke Blaeside. 'These added accessories will help to create a welcoming feel in the garden and take it from average to amazing.'
9. Dine in style
Eating and drinking outside is a huge part of being able to enjoy our gardens, which is where a dining table comes in. These days there's a huge choice available, from small circular tables to larger designs with built-in fire pits, bench seats and armchairs, as well as sets like this where you benefit from both a sofa and dining table.
Think about the colours and materials you might like, whether it's a soft, rattan country style, or something more Scandi in style, such as this black rope design with its angled blonde wood legs. Whichever you choose, make sure you go for one with comfortable cushions if you're planning on spending a leisurely amount of time sitting down.
10. Keep warm around a fire pit
If you want to enjoy your garden long after the sun's gone down then a key piece of garden furniture will be any one of our best fire pits. Not only will it help keep you warm, but it's also a fun way to entertain kids, toasting marshmallows with the flickering glow adding extra light.
Whether you opt for a round, traditional design or a sleek rectangular fire pit, there's nothing quite like sitting round listening to the crackling of logs to make you feel cosy.
Buy now: Ignis firepit, £249, Morso
What type of garden furniture is most durable?
When buying furniture for your garden it's vital to make sure that it's suitable to weather the elements – from having constant sun beating down on it to the occasional summer shower or overnight frost. Wrought iron and hard woods, such as teak and eucalyptus, are great choices that will last a long time, while softer woods are likely to need constant protection to keep furniture in tip-top condition.
When it comes to rattan, choose a design with a high-quality resin, which makes it waterproof, and remember that most outdoor cushions will still need storing inside during the winter months.
'Pieces constructed from hardy, durable materials, such as our collections made from an outdoor fabric, are always popular,' says Andy Baxter at Maze. 'These pieces are quick drying and rain, frost, and UV resistant, ensuring they can be used in every season. Best of all, there are no cushions to bring indoors.'
How do you maintain garden furniture?
Once you've spent out on a stylish set for your garden, you'll want to keep it in good condition - but are there any hard-fast dos and don'ts?
Tim Pennell, head of sales at Bramblecrest has the following advice: 'Whether your furniture is rattan or aluminium, store the furniture cushions in a well-ventilated garage or outbuilding – you could put them in a cushion bag or leave them loose,' he says. 'If you're short of space, use an outside cushion box and check once a week to ensure there is no damp, mould or rodent damage.'
When it comes to rattan furniture, Tim advises using a soft brush to clear away any leaves or garden debris – and to make sure your furniture is covered, whatever its material (except for teak, which due to its natural properties allows it to mellow to a silver-grey colour over time). 'When your furniture is dry, use the appropriate cover for your set,' he says.
'For aluminium furniture, clean the frame and tabletop with a soft cloth and warm soapy water. As the aluminium is powder-coated, it won't rust so can be left outside to elements. However, if you wish to protect it from garden debris and passing birds, it can be covered with a furniture cover as before.'
Where should you place your garden furniture?
Knowing which spot to put your garden furniture does come down, in part, to the space you have in your garden and where it would be most practical, but it's also worth considering where gets the most sun and shade. 'For those with access to a parasol, sunny spots can be taken advantage of, with the sun’s rays subdued when it gets too hot,' says Andy Baxter.
''For those looking to eat in the garden, shady spots will be more comfortable on a hot day, so we’d recommend dining sets are placed away from the sun. Maze thankfully offers a myriad of furniture, from large sofa sets, to easy-to-forget essentials like fire pits and parasols, which can make a garden furniture set-up much more versatile.'
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Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at lauriedavidson.co.uk
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