Garden furniture to love – 4 best looks
How do you choose garden furniture?
Do you drift in to a garden centre and look for the offers? Or is your garden furniture an important part of your design?
Ours has accumulated over the years. It’s all beginning to fall apart, so I’ve been keeping a watch on garden furniture trends when visiting gardens and shows.
There seem to be four key directions – modern, classic, vintage and upcycled. Here’s what they mean for your garden. There are some affiliate links in this post, which means you can click through to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee.
Modern garden furniture
If you like contemporary style, you need chunky, large pieces in neutral colours, such as black, brown, beige or white. Then add a strong splash of vibrant colour. Look for giant sun loungers and huge teak tables that seat 10 or more. This style works particularly well in small city gardens. Interior designers often say that you need one or two large items in a small space to make it seem more opulent.
You can also update traditional style of garden furniture by buying or painting them in strong colours, such as red. This red table below comes from Seletti – click on the picture if you’re interested in it (affiliate link).
Classic style is comfortable. It includes teak tables, rattan armchairs and umbrella parasols. We’ve had a plain teak table for 10+ years and it will last several more. We also have a traditional cream parasol that fits through a hole in the centre of the table. This is beginning to show signs of wear after 5 years.
We will have to replace the parasol soon. I will be making a bid for a ‘banana’ style parasol (see the listing below). This is on a stand placed to one side of the table or sun lounger. When the parasol is down, it is out of the way of the table. When a standard central parasol is folded, it takes up space on the table top. The ‘banana’ parasols are also more flexible – you can adjust them as the sun moves. The more expensive ones are fully adjustable in every direction. The cheaper ones have limited flexibility. I’ve picked two popular models for the listing below.
The vintage look
The vintage look is perennially charming. Think tin cafe tables, wrought iron benches and old garden tools and planters, such as this ‘Rive Droite’ cafe set from Garden Trading (click on the picture if you’re interested in buying it – affiliate link).
One of the fun things about this look is that it’s easy to ring the changes by painting the chairs, tables and benches. I have painted our chairs in Hardwick White by Farrow & Ball, matching them to the garden door, but I am thinking of renovating it all by picking another colour (maybe a really dark one, this time?)
You may think that ‘vintage’ and ‘upcycled’ is the same, but it is a little different. Upcycled means adapting something to a new use. That means using indoor chairs (and even sofas) outside, or turning pallets into garden tables.
Don’t throw your old sofa away. If you’ve got a covered pergola, give the sofa a last season outside, covered in throws. Eventually the wind and rain will get it, but in the meantime you can enjoy a bit of Bohemian garden comfort. Or look in junk shops and markets for mid-century modern chairs in plastics. They’ll withstand life outside and will add character to your garden.
How to find the best garden furniture to buy
I’ve been looking through Amazon to find good garden furniture to buy. After many hours of scrolling up and down the page, I have picked out the brands that got the highest number of 4* and 5* customer reviews. As I am an Amazon affiliate, you can link through to Amazon to buy the furniture. If you do, I may get a small fee but it doesn’t affect the price you pay.
I found lots of positive 4* and 5* reviews for several tables made by Humber Imports, the makers of this table. This was the table I liked the best - it can be extended to seat 10, and the stackable chairs have arms, which is so comfortable. Made of sustainable Indonesian teak, this is a nice, classic garden table at a good price.
Another garden bench classic - the slightly curved bench. We love to sit on ours with a drink - the curve makes it easy for two people to chat without getting a stiff neck. This was the one that got the most 5* reviews on Amazon - 25 of them. It also - when I looked - had no bad reviews, which is unusual.
UK-Gardens 3.5m Beige Coffee Coloured Cantilever Parasol Umbrella - Large Hanging Garden Umbrella With Adjustable Angle Of Tilt - 3.5m Wide - Metal Pole And Base ">
I really want a cantilevered 'banana' parasol. Having scoured the pages of Amazon for the right 'banana', I've worked out what you get if you pay more: usually a more stable base that won't need paving stones to anchor it (or will need fewer) and the option to angle the parasol in almost any direction wherever you need shade. The more expensive versions usually come with covers, too. This one had 16 four-star-plus star reviews, so it's the one I'd choose.
With 45 five-star reviews and 72 reviews in all, averaging 4*+, this has to be the most popular of the cheaper banana parasols. Most people said it was easy to put up, and gave a large area of shade. The only criticisms were that you couldn't angle it (but that's a reflection of the price, I think) and that you needed something sturdy to anchor it with. But most people were delighted with its value for money and clean style.
Searching through Amazon for classic 'rattan' furniture, I noticed that the Allibert brand had lots of good customer reviews. This 4-seater 'rattan' set had 278 customer reviews (average 4*+). People said it was easy to set up and comfortable. It's also very well priced.
Vintage style means wrought iron garden furniture. But I often think some wrought iron garden furniture feels cheap, This bench has 16 four-star-plus reviews. People praised it for its solid, comfortable feel, as well as for its pretty looks. It also folds away for storage in the winter - an excellent bonus.
I scrolled through Amazon to find the best 'bistro' style chairs and tables. Once again, the Charles Bentley name had significantly more positive reviews than almost any other brand - 23 four-star-plus happy customers. Reviewers liked the style and colour. They said that it was easy to put up and to put away.
I wrote Upcycled Chic & Modern Hacks with the talented stylist Liz Bauwens. She introduced me to the idea that you could put an old sofa outside and turn a covered pergola into a great place to hang out. There are lots of ideas for upcycling old junk and for turning mass-market items into something special. The photographs are gorgeous - they're by top photographer Simon Brown and are sure to inspire you.
The Middlesized Garden is a participant in the Amazon Associates LLC, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk