When you shop for outdoor furniture, chances are you aren’t looking for flimsy plastic chairs and tiny tables anymore. Outside furniture has evolved from simply functional pieces to sets built with tasteful, high-quality style that will weather whatever conditions your part of the world brings to bear.
Trends for 2013 include advances in:
Gone are the blanched neutral fabrics of years past–this year’s outdoor furniture is brighter than ever. Advances in fabric technology allows current styles to keep their color for long times without fading in the sun, and manufacturers are celebrating, with popular sets featuring bright reds, oranges, and golds through the color wheel to deep blues, rich greens and purples, even black. Bold floral and geometric patters are popular too, with buyers mixing and matching patterns and solids to fit their individual tastes.
The materials used in today’s outdoor furniture looks much like its predecessors, but with a modern twist. Focus is now on sustainability, weatherproofing, and texture.
Sustainability, a 2012 buzzword in business and agriculture, applies to the outdoor-furniture industry as well. While consumers once shied away from sustainable patio furniture for its higher price tag, now producers are supplying sets that match consumer needs for greener outdoor furnishings at a price comparable to non-sustainable sets.
Teak is an example of the patterns of this trend. A wood renowned for its durability, teak was once an extremely popular material for outdoor furniture. Its popularity declined in recent years due to environmental concerns including the disappearance of old-growth teak, but is enjoying a resurgence thanks to sustainable plantation peak production. Plantation teak is more susceptible to color change in the sun than traditional teak, but is just as resistant to insects and erosion, making it an attractive choice for many consumers.
Weatherproofing is a concern for consumers who want to enjoy their furniture without having to store it over the winter.
Fabrics made from acrylic, polyester, and olefin fabrics feel just as comfy and soft as their indoor counterparts and are resistant to water, stains, and fading from UV exposure so there’s no need to bring them inside after every use. Cleaning is also simple: just wipe them down with a mild soap and a little warm water. (2)
Wicker, long sought out as an affordable outdoor material, is also benefiting from advances in weatherproofing technology. The new outdoor wicker furniture is now a combination of wicker and resin, resulting in a longer-lasting product.
Wrought iron has a new lease on outdoor life as well. Manufactured with good undercoating and powder-coated finishes, it no longer needs annual chipping and painting. (3)
Texture is another focus. Tables feature mosaic tops of stone and glass, cushions combine materials once thought to be exclusively of the indoor realm, and outdoor rugs tie it all together in textile. This trend declares outdoor furniture less of an afterthought and more of a thoughtfully designed addition to the home.
Fire elements, which were once only a fringe trend among consumers, have now become a huge shopping point. Fire pits, fireplaces, and chimineas have taken center stage. Some features are more elegant, with many built right into the center of dining-height tables, and some more casual, but most are good for roasting marshmallows and telling stories in the cool of the evening.
Sliding, rocking, and swiveling chairs are all taking an increased share of the outdoor furniture market. While rocking chairs have long been a part of the scene, these motion features have been transformed from stiff, uncomfortable pieces to deep-seated designs with plush cushions and contoured seats for maximum comfort and relaxation outdoors. (3)
If you have put off shopping for outdoor furniture for fear of the dull, stiff, weather-susceptible image it once wore, let this be your wakeup call. Enjoy your garden from the comfort of a new, lasting, colorful, comfortable outdoor room this weekend.
(1) Wikipedia, “Teak”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teak