Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Furniture for outdoors is no longer all dull

Outdoor furniture used to be defined by its stark, uninspired, utilitarian designs – think white plastic chairs or plain rattan tables that were guaranteed to do the job, but were entirely devoid of any creative flair.

Outdoor furniture used to be defined by its stark, uninspired, utilitarian designs – think white plastic chairs or plain rattan tables that were guaranteed to do the job, but were entirely devoid of any creative flair.

While interior furniture designers were having a field day experimenting with form, materials, colours and finishes, their counterparts in the outdoor world were restricted to a tiny palette of materials, and seemed entirely consumed with function in mind – creating drab but durable pieces that could fight the effects of heat, precipitation, rust and excessive use, but did little to uplift our outdoor spaces.

Luckily, times have changed. One of the key design trends of recent years is the breaking down of boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces, creating interiors and exteriors that increasingly meld into one another.

With no clear differentiation between the two, it’s now increasingly common to find outdoor furniture that wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of your living room. Sleek designs, an increasingly wide choice of materials and the recognition that outdoor spaces are as important as those on the inside of your home have transformed the outdoor furniture industry.

Prime example are pieces by the Philippines-based ­Kenneth Cobonpue, whose creations have given rattan a stylish new lease on life, or those by the companies Dedon and ­Kettal, which have been at the forefront of the move to give outdoor furniture a fresh, design-­forward appeal.

The key in this part of the world is to find materials that are able to tolerate extreme heat and humidity. There’s plenty of choice out there – from good-quality rattan, polyethylene, synthetic weaves and wicker to stone, treated woods and cast aluminium. But make sure to make an educated ­decision based on your specific needs and expectations.

The secret to outdoor furniture is to buy the best quality that your budget allows. Sub-par products will quite literally be unable to take the heat – so any short cuts will become very obvious, very quickly. This is one area where it doesn’t pay to scrimp.

When it comes to fabrics on seats and cushions, you should also be looking for materials that have been specifically treated, as standard fabrics will be ravaged by the power of the UAE sun. Crate & Barrel is a good bet, as it offers umbrellas and cushions in the trademarked Sunbrella fabric, which is both weather- and fade-resistant.

When it comes to outdoor design trends for 2015, we’re seeing a move away from the more traditional Tuscan and shabby-­chic styling, and a move towards cleaner, more modern lines, as seen in the egg-shaped Belen lounger from Fiore ­Rosso, pictured above.

Think carefully about colours, too. A crisp white will obviously be more difficult to pull off on these sandy shores, while darker shades and bold patterns will hide a multitude of sins. When it comes to neutrals, opt for sand, mocha, charcoal and cream – they offer a versatile palette to build on, whatever the climate. At the same time, bold, bright colours, particularly lime green, have emerged as favourites for accent pieces this season.

Lastly, don’t forget your lighting. You can have the most beautiful furniture in the world, but if you don’t light your outdoor space properly, you will never do it justice. Introduce carefully placed spotlights, as well as wall-mounted and free-standing options, but also experiment with pretty hurricane lanterns and fairy lights strung up in trees.

Selina Denman is the editor of Home&Garden.

Updated: October 29, 2015 04:00 AM

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