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8 Things to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Patio Furniture

Carefully appointed patio furniture complements a Sedona residence. See more photos of this home. Photography by Scott Sandler.

The purpose of patio furniture is to add value, function and beauty to your outdoor spaces. Just as we strive to make our interiors beautiful, selecting the right patio furniture can help make the most of an outdoor sanctuary.

However, outfitting your patio can be a bit of a challenge. It requires some careful thought and a lot of consideration to ensure you are selecting pieces that are both beautiful and functional. Here are some  things to keep in mind when updating an outdoor retreat.

1. Always buy according to climate

A serene Paradise Valley backyard by landscape designer Greg Trutza. See more photos of this garden. Photography by Jill Richards.

Consider the climate conditions of your region before picking patio furniture. Just as one would conduct research on drought-tolerant landscapes in arid regions or tropical plants that thrive in desert gardens, it is important to determine material limitations specific to your weather conditions. Contact a local backyard professional for expert advice on materials that can withstand harsh heat, monsoons and dust storms.

Some other things to consider when patio shopping, whether for a desert residence or a second home on the beach:

-Wood expands and contracts in humid and hot conditions, which can cause splintering. It can also rot in moisture-laden climates.

-Aluminum is too lightweight for areas with high winds.

-Iron oxidizes frequently in the salty coastal air.

-Plastic can degrade in the sun and suffer from UV damage.

This limits many mainstream materials when you’re choosing outdoor furniture. Some brands may offer a warranty upon application of weather-resistant coatings, but they may still be subject to wear and tear. Composite materials like high-pressure laminate are a good option. You can also opt for classic, age-old wicker and rattan. Concrete furniture, though heavy, also makes a resilient choice.

2. Complement your theme

Small patio

Photo by Collov Home Design via Unsplash

After selecting the right materials for your climate, it’s time to decide on a theme—rustic? Contemporary? Modern? Boho?

Determining a theme will give you vision and inspiration while surveying the market. It will also help when choosing accessories (or centerpieces) for your patio, such as awnings or louvered pergolas. Make sure all of them go hand-in-hand with your general theme of choice.

3. Don’t skimp on quality

Modern patio furniture set

The Oscar Collection, Brown Jordan,

Quality is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when patio shopping. Outdoor furniture  can be costly due to use of weather- and stain-resistant properties, and the best pieces are often made with sustainability in mind. Cheaper, mass-produced options may not last long. Take into account whether you are willing to replace the furniture every couple of years in exchange for lower upfront costs or whether you can afford to invest in quality that will last 10 or more years.

4. Keep general layout in mind

Small patio space

Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz via Unsplash

When selecting patio furniture, think like a traffic conductor. Consider the backyard, its function and how family and guests will flow throughout the space. Generally, a wall-to-wall layout works best because it leaves a large enough space in the middle. Place everything in a way that will not hinder movement.

5. Consider scale and proportion

Modern patio furniture

Photo by Sonnie Hiles via Unsplash

The scale and proportion of your outdoor furniture matter a lot. Often, homeowners buy pieces that are too large or too small for their spaces. Take note of your patio’s dimensions when deciding on the size of sofas/chairs/tables and keep this handy while shopping to ensure the pieces complement your backyard’s layout.

6. Try before you buy

Blue patio furniture set

Pasadena II, 4-piece patio set, $2,696, Frontgate,

Just as comfort is a factor when considering interior appointments, the furniture for patios and outdoor areas requires just as much thought about how relaxation. Sit on furniture and gauge comfort from all angles. Note whether the legs provide adequate balance and assess that the cushions are durable, supportive and ergonomically satisfying.

7. Color matters

Modern patio furniture by CC Patio

The Ocean Collection, price upon request, CC Patio, Scottsdale,

The color scheme should always complement the surroundings. Observe the hues found in your landscape, from shrubs and trees to flowers and rocks and incorporate them into your design choices. Select pieces at least three shades darker than the surroundings for contrast.

8. Assess your budget

Desert patio

Photo by Taylor Simpson via Unsplash

If you are working with a small budget, wait for end-of-summer sales in July and August. Consider less costly materials, or search for garage sales and consignment stores for second-hand pieces at lower prices. Paint, powder coat, reupholster or refurbish as you see fit. Have fun with it!


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