The right garden furniture can completely transform a bland back garden into a comfortable, beautiful relaxation area. Knowing this can be a very useful trick, but it also means that choosing a new set of garden furniture can feel like a daunting decision, especially if you’re hoping to invest in a set that will last a while.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, don’t worry; we’ve put together a whole mega-list of garden furniture ideas, inspiration and tips to help you find your perfect patio setup.
Garden furniture ideas and tips before you start
Before getting into this huge list of suggestions, it can really help if you are able to focus your search. If you haven’t already, make a list of important features that your furniture needs to have. For example:
- What combination of pieces do you need – just sofas? A table and chairs?
- Where do you intend to position your new furniture?
- Would you like integrated storage?
- What’s your ideal price range?
- Are there materials you prefer, or would like to avoid?
- What’s the overall aesthetic of your garden?
- How much maintenance do you want to put in?
- Where do you plan to store your furniture (if at all)?
So, what’s the best material for garden furniture?
Patio and lawn furniture comes in so many different materials, it can be tricky to choose which you like best. Let’s take a quick look at the qualities of different garden furniture materials, and how they could work with the features you need.
Garden furniture ideas on a budget
Plastic furniture is low-cost, low-maintenance and available in a whole range of styles. Even if you’re on a budget, you can usually find a good set of plastic furniture that will match the aesthetic of your garden. Plus, plastic is easy to wipe clean, and lightweight enough to store easily. You can actually keep it outside for most of the year, but it will need to be secured on windy days.
Low-maintenance garden furniture
If your goal is to have a beautiful but low-maintenance garden, metal garden furniture might be your best bet. It’s still a good idea to keep metal furniture out of the rain (or salty air if you’re near the coast), but choosing a coated metal, like powder-coated aluminium, will help it last longer outdoors. You could also invest in furniture made from a non-corrosive metal, like stainless steel. Metal patio furniture is generally more expensive than plastic, but it’s much sturdier. These metal wire lounge chairs are super stylish, but look out for mesh marks on bare legs!
For a more traditional look, try wrought iron furniture. Wrought iron designs usually strike the perfect balance between sturdy, durable materials and pretty, intricate design.
Contemporary patio furniture materials
Lots of people choose rattan furniture for their contemporary gardens. Rattan patio furniture usually has a pared-back aesthetic with sleek outlines. It’s attractive and comfortable, but doesn’t stand up particularly well to the damp British climate. If you opt for rattan, you’ll need to be conscientious about covering it in wet weather, and putting it away completely once Autumn gets chilly – otherwise it can rot. Synthetic rattan is more durable, but you’ll usually pay a premium for a quality, good-looking version. This modern rattan furniture set is super elegant. Plus, all the pieces would push together quite nicely, leaving more room for that hot tub.
Traditional garden furniture ideas
Wood patio furniture will always be a classic choice. As a material, wood is warm and inviting, lending elegance to any patio. Plus, it’s typically lightweight enough to reposition easily (but not so light it gets blown around in the wind). Wood comes in so many colours that even if your garden aesthetic is more on the modern side, you can find gorgeous wooden furniture to fit.
That’s not to say that wooden seating has to look old-fashioned – I love this slatted contemporary set. It’s got a very Japanese vibe (perfect for a zen-style garden).
Wood furniture can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at these bright deck chairs from habitat. These cheery colours bring so much joy! I also like the awkard way this photo has been staged – perfectly demonstrating how to stay socially distanced outdoors.
Luxurious outdoor furniture fabrics
Fabric patio furniture has become a lot more common as the quality of synthetic threads has steadily improved. Outdoor-friendly textiles like acrylic fabric, olefin fabric, and polyester fabric withstand light rains and temperature changes. Coupled with quick-drying, antimicrobial foam for cushions, you can get one heck of a cushy sofa on your patio.
Fabric seating doesn’t usually come cheap, but it will make sitting out on your patio or deck as comfortable as relaxing in your living room. If you’re looking for fabric garden furniture, check that the materials have been treated to be water-repellent – otherwise you’re just buying regular cushions that will get grubby and rotten if you leave them outside!
Durable patio furniture
Stone and concrete are made for the outdoors. While they’re not as comfortable as other materials, you can expect them to last decades without any sign of rotting or warping.
The simplest and sturdiest dining set you can find is made from concrete – it’s possible to pour your own, but unless you’re experienced it’s worth buying some pre-made or getting some custom made. Not every piece on your dining area needs to be made out of stone or concrete. You can mix a hardy concrete table with soft and comfortable wicker chairs, or choose mixed material pieces, like these wooden frames with concrete tops. Take a look at more concrete garden projects.
Furniture made from bricks or paving blocks will be just as able to withstand harsh weather, and it’s slightly easier to build it yourself. You can even build benches and seats that are combined with planters or garden walls, to make better use of the space in your garden.
Garden seating ideas
The starting point for any set of garden furniture is seating. Whether you just want a simple bench or a whole outdoor-corner-couch situation is up to you.
Outdoor sofa seating
Indoor/outdoor living is a huge trend right now, blurring the lines between house and garden. Outdoor sofas are a big part of this, making your patio or deck as cosy and comfortable as your living room. Patio sofas are all about comfort – deep seats, comfy cushions, and usually a co-ordinating ottman to rest your feet on. Feel free to add a patio rug and extra cushions.
I understand why some people don’t like the idea of a patio “sofa”. It blurs the line between indoors and outdoors, which just doesn’t sit right for those who prefer a garden to look like a garden. Benches are the traditional option, offering garden guests an inviting place to sit without fuss.
This creative setup shows how benches can be incorporated into your outdoor dining area quite easily.
Benches also look great around a fire pit (which is a convenient way to stay toasty in the evenings). They can be sociable seating for squeezing as many people as possible around the fire together, but they’re also perfect for stretching out on your own.
If you were to put a full-on bed in your garden, people might think you were a bit odd. Fortunately, daybeds exist – which are essentially beds disguised as sofas. This shaded daybed looks like heaven.
Another “nearly a bed” option: the sun lounger. Laying out in the sun is so much nicer when you’ve got a sun lounger. This pair of grey rattan loungers look luxurious, but you could add a cushion and a blanket to plastic loungers, fold-up loungers or woof loungers and get the same effect.
Chilling in a hammock always makes me feel like I’m on holiday, and I much prefer them to sun loungers. It’s also perfectly possible (and acceptable) to fall asleep in a hammock.
We have a freestanding, portable one, and we take it camping, on day trips to the beach, and up to the roof terrace on sunny days. You can also get hammocks that are designed to be tied to mature trees and get left in place, or ones with hooks/loops that can be attached to fences or posts. Hammocks are particularly good for that chilled, bohemian vibe.
Like the idea of hanging around? Then try a hanging bench or swing seat for your garden. There’s just something so tranquil about levitating off the ground, especially if you’ve got a book and a coffee (or a glass of wine). Swing chairs come in clean, modern designs, charming macrame, sturdy wood and much more. We’ve got a whole list of hanging garden chair ideas coming up, too.
You can be pretty imaginative with swing seats actually – I really like this one covered in artificial grass (but then I am a fan of AstroTurf gardens).
Patio table ideas
One of the delights of having a garden is being able to eat outside during summer. Of course, to do that you need a comfortable, practical dining table, in a style that fits your household. There are other reasons you might need tables outside too, like working on your laptop, housing pot plants or preparing food for a barbecue. Whether you’re planning a feast for twelve, or just need somewhere to rest your coffee in the morning, we’ve got outdoor table ideas for patios, balconies and every space in between.
If you don’t have much space (or only need a table every so often), fold-out tables make the most sense. You get everything you need from a proper table, but with the added benefit of being able to completely flatten it when you need to use your space for something else. Folding garden furniture is usually inexpensive, and you can find it in all kinds of styles, usually in metal, wood or plastic.
Alternatively, maybe you sometimes need to switch between having a little table and a lot of table. In which case, drop-leaf or extendable tables are perfect. Again, these come in loads of different styles, with a variety of extendable sections to suit your “minimum” and “maximum” diner requirements.
Bistro tables are super stylish, with slimline designs that don’t take up much space – ideal if you only have a small patio, terrace or balcony. You can get normal-height tables, or bar stool options, if that’s more your style. Look for a set of matching bistro tables and chairs, and enjoy feeling like you’re dining al fresco in Paris, Rome or Barcelona (almost).
Outdoor table tip:
Need to seat lots of people in a cramped space? Look for round or oval tables, which are more space-efficient and much easier to squeeze past!
Picnic benches are a simple way to get people seated in your garden. Concrete and metal picnic benches keep your garden looking sleek and modern… But traditional wooden picnic benches weather really nicely for a rustic vibe.
Big patio tables
Do you have plenty of outdoor space and like to have lots of people gathered together? Then you have at least two fantastic reasons to invest in a full-size table that you can keep out on your patio year-round. To get the maximum use out of your outdoor table, look for designs with a hole for a parasol in the middle, and pick up a protective cover at the same time.
DIY outdoor furniture projects
Short on cash but long on time? Building DIY furniture keeps the cost down and can be incredibly fun and rewarding, especially when you can show off your bespoke furniture pieces to your friends.
Pallets are the DIY furniture-builder’s best friend. They’re cheap – even free, if you know the right people – and so, so versatile. Chop them up, nail them together, paint them or leave them rugged.
Tree stump chairs
Old tree stumps and logs can be sealed and stained to be used as stools or low tables. They look absolutely gorgeous in a rustic cottage garden, or enchanted garden space. Plus, because of the way they distribute their weight, you can put them straight on the lawn without worrying about damage.
Some people have old tyres lying around. I’m not sure how, exactly, but they do. Fortunately, they can be upcycled into eco-friendly garden furniture, like chairs and tables (also dog obstacles, or planters).
Old wooden barrels are another thing that you either have lying around or you don’t. If you do, they can be turned into really sturdy seats and tables. Perfect for a garden bar, English pub-style garden or a rustic, eclectic aesthetic.
You don’t have to DIY your garden furniture from start to finish. If you can find the right shape and style of furniture, you can simply paint it the right colour to match your colour scheme. This is also a good way to bring a surprising pop of colour into an otherwise neutral garden (if you need inspiration, try painting your bench the same colour as the flowers that will bloom around it). Just make sure you’re using the right kind of paint and that it’ll be durable for outdoor use.
Making your garden furniture even more cozy
Adding some soft accessories should be the finishing touch to your new garden furniture. Coordinating some cushions and throws makes your furniture set look much more luxurious (and is a sneaky way to make budget furniture feel and look a bit more expensive).
Seat cushions are especially important if you’ve chosen metal chairs, or chairs with a textured base – we’ve all made the mistake of sitting on sun-baked metal, or peeled away from rattan only to find the pattern embedded on our legs.
Blankets are the next essential, especially if you’re hoping to enjoy your new garden furniture in the evening. When the temperature drops, you’ll be very grateful to have an extra layer on top of you! Scatter cushions are down to personal preference – I keep them very minimal outside, but they definitely make my cheap chairs more comfortable if I’m sat outside for a while.
Finishing touches really do make all the difference: look at this gorgeous combo of cushions, throws and outdoor rug.
Thanks to the endless garden furniture possibilities, you’ll always be able to find options that suit your style, budget and household needs.