So today my original blog idea has been thrown aside in favour of a more relevant subject, inspired purely by the beautiful sunshine and blue skies that we are seeing here in Wiltshire after what seems like endless months of rain and snow. I’m still on a garden furniture type roll, so this post is designed to help you decide how to buy your furniture for the garden. As with most furniture, it’s very rarely a cheap impulsive buy, and as a consumer you will need to make sure that you are getting the most you can for your money and that it’s suitable for purpose. As a friend of mine likes to chant regularly, “buy cheap, buy twice”, and for a product that is going to be spending its time being battered by the weather it is certainly worth bearing this adage in mind. Therefore, as follows is my guide to investing in garden furniture, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on which you think is the most important and what has helped you…
- Functionality. What is the purpose of your garden furniture? Where is it going to go? If you are planning on keeping it all on your patio and surround it with lots of friends for al fresco dinner parties, a large table and plenty of seating is key. It may even be worth looking at benches as a seating option rather than chairs to allow you to squeeze those extra couple of bottoms on when not expected. If your furniture is to go in a smaller nook of your garden and you’re more of a sit out on your own type, then don’t over-table! A bistro table which can sit subtly in a corner or under a pergola is a better option for four or less people. Add as many chairs to this as you need or want – most places will let you purchase chairs individually so if you want to sit alone and read, just buy one. They’ll soon get the message!
- Care. It’s bad enough keeping your living room sofa clear of crumbs and stains without having to worry about your garden furniture as well. Most metal garden furniture will be treated so that it lasts for years and will just require a wipe down with hot soapy water as and when it needs it. Wooden furniture can be slightly more labour intensive, but if you’re painting your fence then you may as well tidy up your furniture at the same time! A lot of tabletops will have been treated – just check on this when you buy. If you do go for a wooden option, ensure that the wood is from an FSC forest…
- Storage. Many garden furniture sets will need to be brought inside over the winter. Bear this in mind if you’re buying a cheaper set, as it will need to go into a garage or shed to make it last longer than a single summer. Cushions can be affected by the damp, so look for cushions made of materials that are UV resistant so that they maintain their colour and are waterproof – it’s surprising where the water can get in and cause mould.
- Colour. Why stick to just brown wood when there are so many other colours out there! Look for painted woods, bright table tops, and match these to your plants, plant pots, shoes….A brightly coloured garden furniture set can be a stunning talking point as well as adding a bright splash to your garden and the opportunities for colours really can be endless.
- Invest. I know, it’s not going to be cheap but you really will get what you pay for. Investing that bit more into purchasing a quality set of garden furniture will mean that you won’t have to update it every year when it goes rusty or falls apart. It’s false economy to buy cheap, and think of the good that you are also doing the environment by not using what we call “fast furniture” – products that are cheap and then discarded quickly.
- Additional Accessories. If you’re feeling a bit flush and want to carry on with your garden furniture purchases, don’t just stop at the table and chairs! Consider a patio heater or fire-pit if you want your parties to go on that little bit later into the night, and for warm lighting. Matching planters can deck your decking or patio, and can be filled with pretty plants such as olive trees, or even look at filling them with practical vegetables! A bright parasol to match or complement your table is always important for that one really hot day of sun we get if you’re an English rose who shrivels in the sunshine (like me!). And if you’re eating outside, you may as well cook outside as well. If a BBQ is a bit too standard for you, have a look at outdoor pizza ovens – easy to use and will make you roll pizzas out so often you may put Dominos to shame!
Disclaimer: If you now go out and invest a lot of money in stunning garden furniture, invite your friends round and buy all of the burgers and sausages in Tesco only for it to rain tomorrow…it’s not my fault.