Outdoor living spaces have come a long way from the days when “outdoor furnishings” meant a few inexpensive folding chairs around a flimsy plastic table.
Today’s outdoor chairs might be wrought iron or wrought aluminum, with upholstered seats. The table might be stone or wood or an elegant faux version of either, and would not look out of place inside in the dining room. Add outdoor sound systems, carpets and lighting, and the backyard or balcony can look and feel like an extension of the home.
That notion gets ramped up this spring and summer; manufacturers are offering new furniture, textiles and materials that resemble indoor furnishings yet can withstand the elements.
Getting the right look can be tricky; you don’t want it to seem like you just plunked a sofa from the living room down onto the patio.
Here’s a look at what’s hot for Warm Weather 2015:
Watch for midcentury modern styling in outdoor pieces to co-ordinate with this popular interior style. Gloster’s Dansk collection includes a chair with marine-grade, leather-look upholstery and teak tables, designed by Dane Povl Eskildsen.
After World War II, California designer Walter Lamb was helping salvage sunken Navy warships at Pearl Harbor when he started messing around with the brass tubing and fittings. His prototypical outdoor furniture collection was put into production by Brown Jordan, the Pasadena-based company that pioneered outdoor furniture. Today’s iterations of Lamb’s pieces are still crafted from brass, which you can leave alone to develop a patina or polish to retain the shine. The seats are marine-grade cording.
Luxe looks evoking old Hollywood are also in. Beautiful on an urban terrace, these pieces are chic and sophisticated, with tailoring details on upholstery, elegant finishes and striking colours.
Frontgate’s Grayson Jade collection comes in a fashion-forward bright green, in a powder-coated finish that looks lacquered. Here too, a zebra-print outdoor rug and pillows with exotic botanical prints.
Gloster’s Wedge seating has a stainless-steel base and waterproof fabric over a new type of outdoor foam that breathes well and resists mould.
And Candace Olson designed a collection for Century that includes slipcovered furniture, and a smart accent table crafted of brass-finished aluminum and topped with a faux-croc surface.
Global elements stay as strong in outdoor furnishings as they are in indoors: Those Asian ceramic stools show no signs of disappearing, and are offered in more colours and patterns than ever.
Look for Moroccan influence in lanterns, Mediterranean motifs in textiles, and Silk Road accents like elephant-shaped tables, daybeds and handcrafted accessories.
While dedicated dining areas remain popular outdoors, there’s also a trend toward “chat and chill” configurations of furniture. Indoor-style seating includes comfy lounge chairs and sectional pieces that can be grouped or separated, with ottomans, side tables and coffee tables that can also be used for casual dining.
Watch for new, portable fire pits, bars and coffee tables.
Agio, the world’s largest outdoor furniture supplier, introduces their Kolea collection this year featuring a fire pit and a sofa with built-in bar. Burnt orange fabrics and a lower profile are on-trend.
Deep indigo looks fresh and new, and so does coral. Frontgate’s got a cane-print rug in both hues.
Dark blue looks nautical and preppy paired with crisp white, apple red or sunshine yellow, so think about mixing things up in a fun way by putting the brighter hues on the furniture pieces – a wicker or Adirondack chair, perhaps – and the blues on accent pieces. Or get a more dressed-up vibe by keeping the pops of colour on accessories while the outdoor space is anchored with darker-toned furniture.
The natural neutrals – sand, mocha, charcoal, cream – stay strong for 2015. Their versatility makes them good choices whatever the climate.
Designer Elaine Smith has a new collection of luxury outdoor pillows reflecting her love of fashion, nature and exotic locales. There are Latin American and African kuba cloth prints; menswear-inspired hound’s-tooth; chinoiserie florals; whimsical bird motifs; and Missoni-inspired prints in soft green and gold. She’s added “jewelry” to some pillows, with braided frog trims and pewter medallions.
Echoing an interior-design trend, this look combines hand-hewn wood and stone (or facsimiles) and rustic touches like chicken-wire doors and weathered-look metals with contemporary seat materials and colours.
Gloster’s Oyster Reef collection features a teak farmhouse-style table, while the Pepper Marsh line pairs woven synthetic fiber with teak arms and legs.
Designer Michael Berman’s Marin collection for Brown Jordan really blurs the indoor/outdoor living lines. Teak frames strapped with yacht cording hold cushions covered in UV-resistant Suncloth, suede or leather for a furniture group that would work in an outdoor Great Room, or an indoor one.
Jensen Leisure’s Tivoli group of clean-lined bench seating and tables is made of roble, a sustainably produced Bolivian wood with a smooth grain.
© 2015 The Associated Press