spring, summertime, fall – the living is outdoors

More and more people are loving and seeking the outdoors—as part of their own homes—during the summer or any other season, for that matter.

If remodeling an existing house or moving into a new house, consider a patio or other outdoor living space and how suited the home is to what you want in outdoor living.

Outdoor living areas, expressed through patios and outdoor kitchens, are on the rise, and along with that popularity is the desire to have outdoor furniture that’s not just practical but also beautiful.

What are the trends in outdoor furniture? A few local experts gave their opinions.

When it comes to colors, this year’s trend is “a lot more pastels, like pinks and purple—more than we’ve seen in many years,” said Suzanne Chubb, vice president of Wicker East, based in Mechanicsburg. “Last year the colors tended more toward oranges and red.”

There are also hundreds of choices of fabrics for outdoor furniture—prints, solids, stripes, and geometric patterns. However, floral patterns are not as big as they used to be.

In general, Chubb pointed out, color trends in clothing, cars, and home furnishings are somewhat coordinated or even overlap.

Sunbrella fabrics are also “in.” These are solution-dyed fabrics conventionally used outdoors in boat sails and awnings. Now you’ll find Sunbrella used as patio umbrella fabric and as the upholstery for outdoor furniture and its covers.
The colors of Sunbrella are fade resistant as well as mold and mildew resistant and come in rich, bold colors that will liven any backyard entertaining area.

Throw pillows through a company like Elaine Smith are always popular, but more so this year. You can change the entire look of an outdoor living space with throw pillows, and “it’s easier to change them than upholstery pillows,” added Chubb.
Wicker has always been a favorite type of outdoor furniture because it gives a light, airy feeling and, for many, a coastal look. But “outdoor wicker” is actually made of resin—plastic—or vinyl composite.

One such company crafting comfortable and elegant “wicker” furniture is Lane Venture®. Although constructed of a durable vinyl, it has the look and feel of real wicker with powder- coated aluminum frames. Although the frames have a five-year warranty, they tend to last many more years.

Because the furniture is built to last, replacement cushions are no problem. Lane Venture features their exclusive WeatherMaster® Ultimate outdoor cushion. It’s a drain-through, easy-to-clean cushion that is mold and mildew resistant and comes in a multitude of designs and colors.

Lloyd Flanders, another supplier of Wicker East, offers tables, seating, and accessories in Lloyd Loom, woven vinyl, and antiqued teak.

“The Lloyd Flanders Lloom comes in 26 different finishes,” said Chubb. You’re sure to find something that will complement your outdoor setting.

Traditional sofas are definitely used in outdoor living spaces, but probably more versatile are sectionals. You can move them about and change up the look by putting a table or plant between the sections. Love seats and personal seating are also popular, offering styles that bring luxury to your backyard.

Trendy this season are double glider chairs, swivel chairs, and “motion pieces” in general. And although you have fond memories of your grandparents, don’t think of these chairs in those terms. Those chairs bring comfortable memories, but today’s motion pieces bring peaceful comfort with sleek styling. You’ll sink into their coziness and never want to pull yourself out.

Cushions are hydrophobic (fabric that drains and dries more easily), hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and do not mildew. It’s amazing how quickly after a rain that the cushions are dry enough to sit on without getting your bottom wet. The best idea, though, is to cover or remove the cushions during a rainstorm.

Since ease of maintenance is important with outdoor furniture, it’s advantageous that new cushion casings are replaceable, rather than having to completely reupholster, as with typical indoor furniture.

Plow & Hearth “flip-flops” between selling fireplace accessories half a year and outdoor furniture and garden supplies and tools the other half, said Adam Buhrman, store manager in the Harrisburg shop.

The store offers a few wicker pieces for outdoors in different styles, ranging from bright colors to more traditional ones.
“We have resin wicker love seats, chairs, and coffee table sets, as well as furniture seating collections,” said Buhrman.
A greater range of materials is available in outdoor furniture than ever before. One is poly-wood, a recycled plastic that looks like wood.

Another popular choice is eucalyptus, which is used as a substitute for teak and is a sustainably harvested and plentiful. Eucalyptus has similar properties as teak—the same natural feel—and weathers to a soft gray. Its high oil content repels water and moisture. It is an affordable choice for budget-conscious customers.

Eucalyptus trees also have a minty, pine scent with a touch of honey. Because these trees grow very close to one another, numerous hybrids are produced, which result in diverse scents.

Some of the pieces that come in eucalyptus are glider benches, chaise lounges, and dining umbrellas.

However, don’t think teak has been replaced. Teak is eco-friendly, weatherproof, strong, and worth the price. Plow & Hearth offers great-looking, bar-height, plantation-grown solid teak dining furniture that is casual yet beautiful.

Bistro seats are also available in bamboo, which has the benefits of being eco-friendly and durable, and although it is lighter weight than hardwood, bamboo is commonly considered stronger than most hardwoods. It is also less reactive to moisture, so it retains its size and shape. Bamboo can be molded for a more modern setting or left more genuine for a natural feel.

Metal furniture hasn’t gone out of favor either. It comes in variety of styles, sizes, and designs (including retro designs) to match every budget.

A very popular item at Plow & Hearth is the dream chair suspended lounger with umbrella. You’ll sit suspended like a hammock but also able to sway from side to side and rotate: perfect for reading a book, watching the grandkids, or just taking a nap.

“It feels like floating on a cloud,” said Buhrman.

Imagine yourself resting outside with a cool beverage on an outdoor lounger with the canopy up after a game of golf or after working in the garden. Now picture yourself on the lounger with the canopy down, perhaps sharing a night sky with someone special.

“The lounger is topped with tailored polyester canopy for comfort and style,” Buhrman said.

Traditional Adirondack chairs (with ottomans) offer a comfortable angle for the back. Made of polywood, which is guaranteed not to splinter, crack, or rot, these chairs come in a variety of colors. They’re sturdy, yet comfortable, with a classic design.

In addition to furniture, ornaments for outdoor living are in vogue. Plow & Hearth carries decorative items, such as solar metal balls, which are seen by customers as “very cool,” said Buhrman. “These come in different sizes and light up at night with stars or flowers.”

Garden estuaries, such as big metal spinners, are also in demand—“anything to jazz up the front or back of the house. These go from modestly priced to budget-busting,” said Buhrman.

Certainly, the choices in materials, colors, and styles in outdoor décor and accessories have been growing as the popularity of outdoor living spaces has increased over the past 20 years.

“It’s like having an extra living room,” said Buhrman. )))

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