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Fab Outdoor Furniture: Staycation in Style

We’ve come a long, luxurious way since the canvas lawn chair was king of the backyard comfort zone. Today’s outdoor living spaces set the stage for staycations to rival the most indulgent hotel getaway.

“People go on vacation and spend time in these fabulous resorts, and they want to recreate that feeling in their own backyards,” says Michael Revah, CEO Canada for the California-based furniture company Zuo Modern. This fascination with the outdoor room has been gaining momentum over the past few years, as families hurry to make the most of the best weather months. “During that time, we all come out to play and the outdoors becomes an extension of the home, especially when you live in a colder climate.”

“The manufacturers have been very savvy to create furniture pieces that look as good indoors as outdoors,” says celebrity designer Tyler Wisler. “Blurring the line has definitely become a lot more prevalent these days.”

Natural Colours

Outdoor settings offer limitless creative choices, but there are some prevailing design tendencies.

“Despite all the Pantone hype, a lot of people have gone back to the grey-taupe colour palette,” says Wisler. A neutral colour scheme that carries through from indoors to outdoors can unify both spaces. “I love the driftwood colours, that very washed-out grey beautifulness. And if you really feel you need a punch of colour, any colour goes. You are given a lot more freedom and license to have fun with it when you’re outside – and it really is about having fun.”

Outdoor fabrics have evolved, too. “Ten years ago, you never would have found an outdoor chenille, an outdoor velvet,” says Wisler. “They have come light years, and they are beautiful.” Some lines to explore are Holly Hunt’s “Great Outdoors” textile collection, the Perennials “Aquaria” collection, with its soft pastels, neutrals and fun fish, and Glen Raven Mills’ wide range of Sunbrella fabrics.

Wisler recommends adopting an eclectic approach rather than collecting a single matching set. “If you have something that pulls them together, whether it’s the colour of the cushions or the scale, there are always ways to make an eclectic jumble cohesive.” The placement should be conceived to create “separate little seating areas, like small vignettes, little individual moments. You’re almost creating those small environments for intimate conversations to happen.”

Deep Relaxation

“What you hear a lot of is the term ‘deep seating’,” says Charles Hessler, Executive Vice President for UK-based Barlow Tyrie, known for its high quality teak furniture. This is literally a chair with a deep seating area: “an oversized chair or sofa with nice thick cushions or throw pillows in outdoor fabric. Framing can be anything from teak wood to stainless steel to cast aluminum. It’s rather contemporary looking, and contemporary seems to be the catch phrase right now.”

Also important are pieces that allow one or two people to stretch out in the sun, read a book or chat. These may take the form of loungers, day beds or chaise longues. One of the most popular items from Zuo Modern’s new Vive collection is the Martinique Beach Daybed. “Some people call it an onion, others will call it a cocoon,” says Revah. The Cove Beach Lounge Set is also attracting attention. “It allows people who are sitting on the same sofa to face each other.”

“We have a double-size chaise longue, like a bed for two people,” says Jim Cadman, Sales Manager with Oakville, Ontario-based Jordan Cast & Wicker. “Our double lounger has a big cushion and independent moving back. There are about 400 patterns to choose from – bright colours to simple beiges, so you can create your own look.” The company also offers a sofa chaise longue: a three-seater sofa with a built-in chaise longue designed for the outdoors.

Unique Designs

Then there are the one-of-a-kind pieces – from teepees to leaf-shaped daybeds – that can make an outdoor space unique. From Spanish company Gandia Blasco comes an ultra-modern canopied daybed, and the Pergola Sofa, which defines its own covered space.

“They even have the Cristal Box,” says Wisler, “a glass-enamel structure that’s like adding square footage to your house. It gives you full 360-degree views of everything around you. They think outside the box… even though they create a box!”

Wisler also loves Dedon (“You can find them in a lot of boutique hotels.”) Some of their standout pieces are the cozy Orbit Daybed and the Nestrest, a teardrop-shaped hanging woven pod that could be suspended over water or from a tree. Wisler notes, “It’s just amazing smart design, but at the end of the day, it’s also comfortable.”

There are far too few perfect days in the calendar. Today’s outdoor living room choices lend themselves to home environments so inviting that you may not want to spend those precious hours anywhere else