When the mercury rises, many people draw the curtains and blast that AC. For the rest of us—the few, the proud, the sweaty—there’s only one place to go: the patio. But not all patios are created equal. For example, if you’re still using flimsy white plastic chairs from ten years ago with threadbare cushions handed down by your aunt, it might be time for a patio furniture upgrade. Luckily, there are a lot of budget-friendly options out there. So chuck that rusty metal lawn chair in the garbage and prepare to make your dream patio a reality!
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How Do You Want To Use Your Outdoor Space?
Think back to your parents’ patio growing up. I’m betting there was a BBQ, a set of chairs, and, if they were really dedicated to outdoor living, a table with an umbrella. For a long time, the only outdoor furniture available was the type to make your patio a secondary dining room. But this is no longer the case. There are patio couches, patio fireplaces, patio rugs, and even patio daybeds!
Will you primarily use your patio for reading outdoors on a sunny day? Consider one or two pieces of comfortable seating that you can stretch out on. Planning to have a lot of company? In that case, you could supplement a regular patio set with six more folding chairs that can be stowed away depending on the number of guests you have. Big home cook? Go beyond the grill with a smoker or a wood pizza oven. The seriously dedicated could even go with an outdoor patio kitchen with stainless counters so you have prep room for your barbecue experiments.
What Kind of Weather Do You Have in Your Area?
You should take your local climate into account when choosing what kind of patio furniture you’d like. Weather with sudden hot-to-cold “mood swings” may take a toll on wood outdoor furniture sooner than on other materials. The damp, salty air of the ocean may cause metal patio furniture to rust prematurely. Are your days long and sunny and is your patio totally exposed? A patio umbrella may be useful to extend those leisurely hours outdoors.
Anyone living in a climate with a harsh winter may want to consider storage options. If you can’t store indoors, factor in some heavy-duty covers to your patio furniture budget. If you can, buying lightweight or folding furniture may help save space in your storage area.
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How Much Space Do You Have?
Measuring your space and your desired furniture and giving yourself enough room to move around is imperative. If you have to push back your chair off the patio stones and into the garden every time you get up, or if you have to step into the soil to get around your set, you’ll end up irritated—take it from me.
If you don’t have a lot of space, fear not! There are a number of small outdoor bistro sets that still make for a wonderful al fresco dining experience. There are also some outdoor folding tables that can attach to a wall to provide space for passage.
Multi-purpose outdoor furniture can also make for a great use of space—for example, an ottoman that also serves as storage for your chair cushions, or a bench that folds out into a picnic table depending on your desired use.
What Garden Furniture Material Is Best for You?
As mentioned above, climate should be a major concern when choosing your patio furniture material. You should also take maintenance and budget into consideration—but that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for something you don’t love.
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Acacia wood is used in a lot of outdoor furniture. It’s beloved for its appearance, but to keep it from cracking, warping, or discoloring, you’ll need to give it some TLC. By regularly applying specially formulated waxes or oils, your acacia furniture will look like new for years to come. Or, for someone with a slightly higher budget, teak provides a similar style with even more durability.
Metal patio furniture comes in a wide variety of designs, from Art Nouveau-style wrought iron bistro sets with floral touches to minimalist, lightweight aluminum sets with clean edges. There are also plastic patio sets, which have come a long way from the thin white plastic that used to be omnipresent. Synthetic wicker offers an all-season option for fans of that style, and is nearly indistinguishable from its natural counterpart.
For the eco-friendly set, there are recycled plastic options that can often be less expensive than those made from other materials—for example, a plastic Adirondack chair is easier to move around than its wood equivalent, and way cheaper.
Speaking of—What’s Your Patio Furniture Budget?
For many of us, budget is the #1 concern. Blowing a couple grand on high-end outdoor furniture is as exciting as it gets, but what if you only get a couple good months of patio weather a year? If you have the storage space for it, keep an eye out at local retailers for end-of-summer sales and stow away your treasures for the next summer. Many brick-and-mortar stores don’t have the space to keep outdoor furniture over winter so the markdowns can be dramatic.
However, while many stores may only have the space to stock a few styles of furniture, the sky is the limit when it comes to online retailers. Many can help you furnish the patio of your dreams if you’re willing to shop around—and as always, searching for coupon codes and free shipping offers will be the key to keeping everything within budget. Happy hunting!