Design 101: Hot Fun in the Summertime…

“Why do I need to buy new outdoor furniture every year?”   “What should I do to future-proof my home?” Interior designers deal with these and many other questions every day.  This month’s column focuses on various options for long lasting outdoor furniture.

Our wooden furniture just doesn’t hold up to the weather, but I keep forgetting to bring it in.  What can I do? Try switching to teak furniture.  While it is still a natural product and not completely impervious to sun and rain, Teak is one of the most durable outdoor wood choices available.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful as well.

Pro Tip: No matter how much natural oil is in the wood, it’s still wood and left to sit in water it will develop mold over time.  So regardless of whether the wood is used as an outdoor chair or a bath accessory, make sure to let it dry and clean it occasionally.

We don’t really like the look of wood, is there an alternative you would suggest?  Cast aluminium pieces are an excellent choice for durable non-wooden outdoor furniture.  We prefer the cast version of the metal over the extruded, but a quality piece of either should still last you decades.

Pro Tip: What to add a little traditional flair to your outdoor seating?  Our friends at Three Coins Cast produce the Mount Vernon collection. It looks great and is super comfortable. Better still? It’s made right here in the USA.

Are there less expensive choices than Teak or Cast Aluminium? We would remind you “Buy once, cry once,” but yes there are less expensive choices. Look into wrought iron.  It is both heavier than aluminum and prone to rusting, but a quality piece maintained properly can last long enough to be handed down to the next generation.

Pro Tip: Most pieces will come powder coated.  This process is superior to wet painting and while you can “touch it up” we strongly recommend letting a professional take care of your powder coated items if you really want them to last.

What other options are there? Preferably something to impress our guests.  If you really want to go for the wow factor, but we assume for a lesser expense than marble, look into concrete furniture.  There are some amazing pieces out there that are about as low maintenance as anyone could ask for. Our personal favorites are produced by Currey and Company.

Pro Tip: Expect some cracks in your concrete furniture.  For the most part these are harmless and do not threaten the structural integrity of the piece.  If you’re still concerned, you can always take a picture and submit it to the customer service department for review.

You mentioned outdoor fabrics in the last column. Which brands do you recommend?  There are dozens of companies that sell outdoor fabrics, but we have two favorites. The first is Al-Fresco Fabrics.  Moderately priced and unbelievably durable, these are milled right next door in North Carolina. The second and more expensive brand is Perennials.  Known as one of the finest options in solution dyed acrylic, they are found on high-end outdoor furniture and yachts the world round.

Pro Tip:  A little water cut the Grand Canyon, and the Sun will eventually fade anything.  If you want things to last, buy quality to begin with. And if you want your purchase to last even longer, take the time to protect it from unnecessary exposure to the elements.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 11 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at yaron@formaltraditional.com or visit www.formaltraditional.com.

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