by The Helpful Hardware Folks

With the right patio furniture, you can extend your living space and create the perfect atmosphere for family and guests to enjoy your deck, patio or porch. Use this guide to buying a patio set or choosing patio furniture that will make your patio, deck or porch irresistible, season after season.

STEP 1: Plan Your Space

Even the most plush and stylish furniture won’t make your guests comfortable if your deck is crammed too full to move around. So, before you go shopping for patio furniture, measure your space and plot out how much room is needed for traffic and empty space. The amount you’re left over with will help you choose furniture that’s sized for your space. Try these tips:

  • Allow about 3’ of space to give people room to pass one another safely and comfortably in spots where they will be moving, serving food or dining.
  • Allow about 2’ of space around furniture.
  • Allow about 1.5’ of space between an ottoman and chair or a table and sofa.
STEP 2: Set Up Zones

Decide what you’ll do most often, and plan your outdoor space around that activity. Keep in mind, the furniture you select for the main “zone” could be the focal point, or, may be out of the way, but may take up the most space. Then, plan out secondary spaces for the activities you’ll do occasionally. Here are some examples of how you can plan to select and arrange your patio set:

  • If grilling out and entertaining is your main activity – Your grill, smoker and fryer may be a main element in the space.
  • You may not want it to be the first thing someone sees on entering the space. An inviting table, with comfy seating may be more visually appealing.
  • If conversation and relaxing are more your style – Bring the comfort of your living room outdoors. A couch, loveseat and coffee table gives everyone room to spread out.
  • If intimate conversation with a friends is part of the routine – Set a glider, porch swing or café table off to the side. Or, create an area with a pair of conversation chairs with ottomans and an accent table. You’ll have a more intimate option on the occasions you’re just enjoying morning coffee, or conversation with a good friend.
  • If relaxing with a good book is your secondary focus – A comfy chair and ottoman, lounge chair, chaise, rockingchair or hammock can be tucked away to the side.
STEP 3: Plan for Adequate Seating

If you have a large family, throw big barbecues or have lots of space to work with look for…

  • A large outdoor dining table. Look for a table that allows for 6-8 people to sit comfortably and still allows room for food and beverages on the table.
  • A bar or buffet. You can serve BBQ buffet style and leave more room at the table.

If you have a smaller family, occasionally entertain larger groups or have some extra space to work with, (but not too
much) look for…

  • Picnic tables. Bench seating and the broad, uninterrupted tabletop, makes a traditional picnic table perfect for a casual outdoor dining experience. A painted table and benches can add a fun touch of personality if you want the table to be the focal point of the space.
  • A rounded dining table. Look for a dining table that seats 4-6 people comfortably. A medium to larger-sized circular or oval-shaped dining table can save some space. And a clear glass top helps gives the illusion of more space.
  • A folding picnic table. You can set it up when you need it and stow it away when you don’t.

If you mostly entertain 1-2 guests, your gatherings are more intimate or space is very limited, look for…

  • Bistro or Café Tables. They’re a space-saving option for small patios, decks or balconies and fit nicely into almost any nook. Choose one that echoes your interior style. For more of a traditional look, choose wrought-iron or more sculpted shapes and embellishments. For casual tastes the clean lines of a wooden bistro set or a sleek angularshape echoes a modern interior. Add a pop of color or pattern by adding seat cushions.
  • Outdoor Rocking Chairs. A classic piece of outdoor furniture on the porch. And another great opportunity to add a touch of color with paint.

If you occasionally need extra seating, rarely dine outdoors, have more yard space than patio space or you’re more
into relaxing than dining outdoors look for…

  • Couches, chairs and ottomans. A living room-style setup will be used more often. You can store stackable resin chairs or folding chairs and tables for the occasions when you need to serve food or seat more people.
  • Park Benches. Outdoor garden benches set up in the yard offer a quiet escape to read a book or an extra spot for mingling guests to sit down for comfortable conversation.
  • Park Benches. Outdoor garden benches set up in the yard offer a quiet escape to read a book or an extra spot for mingling guests to sit down for comfortable conversation.
  • Adirondack chairs. Whether on the front porch or in the yard, the allure of an Adirondack chair is its classic style and low, laid-back comfort. Paint them to add a cheerful pop of color to your outdoor space.
  • A hammock. The ultimate symbol of backyard relaxation is a rope or canvas hammock swaying between two trees. Where trees or posts aren’t available, set up a portable hammock so you won’t miss out on your own little slice of heaven.
  • Chaise Lounges. Lay back and enjoy the sun on your face, or your time by the pool. A folding or plastic lounger lets you relax when time allows, and easy stow away storage when you need the space for entertaining.
STEP 4: Add Color and Style

As a general rule, your outdoor living space should be an extension of your home’s style. Treat your deck, porch or
patio like an additional room by adding color and style that echo your interior. Look for…

  • Cushions, an umbrella or an outdoor rug. Bring in the colors or patterns similar to your interior upholstery and textiles. Look for materials that are comfortable but repel water and are stain resistant.
  • Accent tables, a single chair, plant containers or yard decor. If you can’t find them in coordinating colors to your interior palette, paint them. Or, here’s where you can add a pop of contrasting color to an overly neutral space.
  • Outdoor Lighting. Outdoor sconces, landscape lights, lanterns or strings of Edison bulbs or party lights can cast a glow on your space and let you continue enjoying the outdoors into the night.
  • Your Style. Connect your outdoor space to your interior with elements that reflect your personal style. Wood and wicker and metal with clean lines suit more modern or casual aesthetics. Bronzed finishes with more ornate finials, shapes and details coordinate with traditional tastes. On a budget? Add personality to your plastic or resin furniture with paint.
STEP 5: Create Climate Control

You can’t control Mother Nature by adjusting the thermostat, but you can make your outdoor space comfortable without being chased indoors. Look for…

  • An Umbrella or Gazebo. If you haven’t got shade from the sun’s glare, a classic market umbrella is perfect for smaller areas. Tilting patio umbrellas lets you stay in the shade when the sun moves throughout the day. A large rectangular patio umbrella or portable gazebo accommodates larger spaces.
  • A Fire Pit, Patio Heater or Chiminea. Hot days can cool off into brisk nights. And the glow of a heat source or fire is especially relaxing. Fire pits come in so many styles they’re another good way to add a focal point of interest to your space.
  • Misters or Fans or Misting Fans. You can edge your pergola or ceiling beams with misters or get the refreshing delicate spray or breeze from a portable mister or fan.
STEP 6: Storage

An outdoor furniture set is an investment to protect. Clean it up with an outdoor cleaner. Choose covers or a large storage bin or shed to stow away extra seating or protect your cushions and furniture out of season.