Throughout Howard County as I drive through the neighborhoods there is a buzz of activity as we prepare our lawns and gardens for the spring and summer season ahead.  So along with that it’s time to consider your outdoor entertaining area.

There are many design elements that are now a part of many backyards.  There are outdoor kitchens, firepits and fireplaces, landscape lighting, audio effects and furnishings.

Today let’s talk about furnishings for seating and lounging.  What are some of the things that you want to consider? First, you want to think about how you will use them.  How many people will you need to be able to seat?  What type of style and shape will best suit your space?

If you have just added a beautiful fireplace which is a new focal point in your backyard consider what feel you want.   When you look at the two pictures below from  decide if you prefer the straight lines of the furnishings in the top picture or if you would enjoy having a curved sofa with two chairs facing each other that also have a rounded back.  Add an oval cocktail table in the center.  This grouping will create more of an organic, enveloped feel.   Either one can satisfy your seating needs but which one makes your heart sing?

When you are choosing furnishings for inside your home, color and texture are key design elements.  It is the same for your outdoor furnishings.  Do you like the rich look of a dark ebony wicker or the soft light gray?   Realize that the darker colored sofas and chairs without legs take up more visual space which may not be the best choice if you have a small area, however if you have a large lounging space with multiple seating areas you may need the grounding of this richer color to delineate it.   Manufacturers nowadays can offer such a wide range of colors and textures to suit any style.

The fabric you plan to use on your furnishings will set the mood and aesthetic as well.  Sunbrella fabric is the leader in outdoor fabrics because their fabrics are mold and mildew resistant, water repellant, dry quickly, and fade resistant.  Their fabric fibers are saturated with UV stable pigments throughout instead of color just on the top of the fiber.  They have hundreds of fabric options that you can mix and match for cushions and pillows.

This was the color palette for a recent project.  My client loves orange and geometrics.  They have a large entertaining area and we needed large pieces to define the space and create a cozy gathering area around the fireplace.  We have the rich earthy tones of the wicker and the bright warmth of the shades of tangerine.

Be sure to consider the cushions that you use on your outdoor furniture.  Make sure that they are hydrophobic (drain and dry easily), hypoallergenic, mildew resistant and antimicrobial.

When you purchase your outdoor furniture consider its durability.  There are certainly many inexpensive options but they may cost you more in the long run if they have to be replaced each season. The types of metal, woods, or resins will dictate durability, cost, maintenance, function, and style.

For woven wickers choose synthetic resins made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) not polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  PVC products emit toxins and are prone to unravel, chip, and crack.

Lloyd Flanders has an heirloom quality outdoor woven furniture collection that is made from a continuous strand that creates a consistently smooth weave.  They use special weaving, wrapping, and finishing processes so that their furnishings are “beautifully crafted to stand the test of time.”

Aluminum is a great material that is often chosen because it can be cast and powder coated which adds to its strength and durability but keeps it light enough to be easily moved.  Cast aluminum is a solid aluminum that is sturdy and allows for more intricate designs.  It is heavier and will not blow away in high winds. Aluminum does not rust and because it can be powder coated it has limitless color possibilities.


Teak is a dense wood that is strong and durable.  It won’t ding or dent and does not need to be stored inside for winter.  This hardwood produces its own oil that protects it in the elements.  If you do not like the gray patina it will require cleaning and protection.

There are so many ways to enjoy the myriad furnishings.  You can glide, rock, swivel, lounge and relax while you eat and drink.  Enjoy some time outside during this spring and summer season.


Interior Design to make the everyday extraordinary