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Using Garden Furniture Creatively

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 24 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Deck Chairs Sun Loungers Benches Tables

Garden furniture has come a long way from the days when deck chairs and plastic sun-loungers were pretty much the only option. The rise of the whole “outdoor room” concept, which has witnessed the patio, terrace or decking area seen as an extension of the living space has driven a revolution in the styles, colours and materials of furniture available. Today, creatively chosen tables, chairs and benches offer the chance to reflect much of your own personal taste while staying true to their intended purpose – allowing the best possible blend of the functional with the entirely decorative. With so much on offer, there has never been a better time to get creative with your garden furniture.

Setting the Mood

With so many of us now choosing to make use of our patios and other areas of garden space for entertaining, the choice of furniture can make an enormous impact on the overall mood of the garden. Whether you’re looking to create the feel of an Arcadian grotto or a Tuscan terrace, carefully selecting your pieces can go a long way towards achieving the right look. Rustic wooden furniture will compliment the cottage garden perfectly, while more traditional benches go well with formal designs, while for Japanese gardens it’s hard to beat the authentic touch of bamboo and cane.

Aside of the aesthetic aspects of the decision, it’s also important to consider the main function you want the area to play – is it to be an out-and-out sun trap, a place to sit and chat with friends, or aimed at outdoor dining? How the furniture will be used, how many people it needs to accommodate and where it is to be placed are all important considerations and will help your artful use of furniture look right.

Materials, Colour and Texture

Colours and textures can play as important a role in your garden furniture as they do in the garden design itself. Choosing seats and tables made from materials which harmonise with the colours and construction of the patio or decking area gives a sense of continuity and order to the scene, but it isn’t something which needs to be followed slavishly. Adding the occasional “special” piece as a highlight can sometimes set off the rest – just as a feature plant can make all the difference to a bed or border. Sometimes it can be worth taking ideas from interior design outside with you, and experimenting with different colours or textures of materials to create one or two different areas in the same space – to make rooms within the larger outdoor room.

Thinking about how materials and planting schemes come together can also give you a lot of scope for creativity and the possibilities are enormous. The hard lines of stone benches, for example, make a great contrast against the soft, lush foliage of ferns and mosses, while the sympathy of wooden furniture beside them would create a more natural feeling.

Going Retro?

Garden design may not be quite into the sort of periodic revivals that fashion and music seem prone to, but there is still a bit of an undercurrent of retro-chic to be found. Garden furniture often has a surprisingly hard time of it – being stuck out in the elements year after year takes its toll – but with a bit of ingenuity, old seats, tables and swings can be given a whole new lease of life. With the huge array of coloured wood stains and preservatives available in most big DIY stores, renovating many rather sad and battered-looking pieces calls for little more than a few repairs and a paintbrush. Best of all, because many of them were first developed for decking, they tend to be amazingly hard wearing and will leave your masterpiece looking good for years. Apart from the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself, one of the best parts of getting creative with old garden furniture is that your outdoor space is instantly guaranteed a totally unique look.

Nothing makes or breaks the outdoor room as much as its furniture. Comfortable and good-looking outdoor furniture, well chosen and imaginatively arranged will ensure that you and your family – along with any of your friends who join you – will have a thoroughly enjoyable time. When it comes to garden furniture, it really does pay to be creative!

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