Plus, their smart, sunny solutions.

Deck Patio
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Once the temperature rises, and that unwavering urge to spend even more time outside kicks in, the great outdoors becomes the best room of the house. (For a few glorious months, Mother Nature replaces our living room… dining room… and, yes, even our kitchen!) However, just like in your home’s interiors, an outdoor space hinges on selecting the right furniture. 

“Outdoor spaces have the potential to be extensions of your indoor space,” explains Chet Callahan, principal of Chet Architecture in Southern California. “Thus, the furnishings require all the care that you place on interior objects. Intention, texture, color, and playfulness are just as important outside as they are inside.”

From selecting materials that aren’t weather-friendly to having a limiting layout, outdoor furniture mistakes might seem small, but they can stack up quickly. (Suddenly, it’s summertime, and the living isn’t that easy.)

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The good news? Even the biggest outdoor furniture mistakes can be quickly fixed. We tapped a few West Coast designers to share their biggest outdoor furniture obstacles, plus their smart solutions.

Patio Furniture

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With so many conversation sets and dining table bundles, you can easily outfit your outdoor space with the click of a button. But for Callahan, who just launched his first product line of outdoor furniture with Laun, that’s a big decorating faux pas. “It’s so tempting to find a furniture design that we like and buy out the collection, but this can render a space characterless,” he shares. “Mix in some vintage pieces or heirloom objects to personalize the space.”

Similar to your home’s interiors, your outdoor furniture should be a treasure trove of pieces that ultimately tell a story about you and your home. Sure, it might take time to piece together the perfect setup, but Callahan argues it’s so worth the wait.

Patio Chair

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Mistake 2: Not Considering the Climate

Though you might look for outdoor furniture that’s pretty and practical in equal measure, Mother Nature ultimately has the final say in what materials belong outside. From fade-resistant upholstery to powder-coated steel, there are plenty of options to choose from; however, these materials are not a one-type-fits-all situation. For Julia Sobrepeña King of Studio Roene, it’s all about paying close attention to your home’s specific climate. 

“In a beachside setting, furniture gets easily damaged and corroded by salty air, so I choose marine-grade materials or durable woods like teak,” the Los Angeles-based designer explains. “If it rains a lot or if there is a lot of sun, I like seats without cushions.”

Though furniture covers can protect your wares, King says these tarps are often “unsightly and ruin the view,” so she prefers to do the extra upfront research to find the perfect material match. “Not having the need to use [furniture covers] as often is a good solution,” she says.

Outdoor Furniture

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Mistake 3: Copping out with Cheap Pieces

Speaking of materials, don’t forget to actually invest in your outdoor furniture. Since some people will only use their outdoor pieces a few months out of the year, it’s tempting to pick up the cutest (and cheapest) set you can find. However, if you want to stretch your dollar, high-quality pieces pay off. 

“I prefer to stay away from cheap plastic or not UV-protected,” says Shaolin Low of Studio Shaolin. “You get what you pay for.” Instead, Low prefers to use materials like teak, synthetic wicker, and performance upholstery. And who knows? If you have furniture you actually enjoy, you might find yourself wanting to spend more time outside. 

“Outdoors is a usable space that can make a home feel bigger than it is,” adds designer Linda Hayslett. “If done right, your outdoor space can feel enjoyable year-round even if your area experiences colder weather.”

Patio Layout

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Mistake 4: Working with a Basic Layout

When it comes to decorating your outdoor space, the sky’s the limit—literally. However, Hayslett is quick to point out that many people often stick with the same, tired layout: A sofa, two chairs, and a coffee table. “We don’t tend to use this layout for its intent of having intimate and long conversations outside,” she says. “Though the outdoors should flow like indoors, we use the space differently.”

Before you add anything outdoor-related to your cart, Hayslett wants you to consider your family’s favorite summer activities. “Think of what you want your lifestyle to be outside,” she says. “Then bring in pieces that help with the flow of people and conversations.” 

Love making s’mores by your fire pit? Try investing in a few stackable chairs. All about the pool during those dog days of summer? Treat yourself to a chaise lounge or two. “Don’t go and get something for the sake of buying,” Hayslett adds. “Buy pieces for the sake of your family’s habits and lifestyle.”

Gaidon Metal Outdoor Chairs

Courtesy of Amazon

Gaildon Outdoor Chairs Set of 4, $90

Want to make the most of your limited outdoor space? Take a cue from Leigh Jendrusina of SALTHOUSE Collective, who often divides her space up into individual zones. “There are so many cool spaces you can create in a patio or yard: A space to drink coffee; a space to get some morning sun; a place to gather with friends for a happy hour cocktail; a space to perch while your husband is BBQ-ing,” she says. “I love to think through how you live and entertain in a backyard and then design seating and eating areas around those scenarios.”

House Exterior Backyard

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Mistake 5: Taking Your Setup Too Seriously

While we love spending time outside as much as the next sunshine-seeker, we have to be honest with you: Decorating your backyard or patio doesn’t feel as exciting as your home’s interiors. “There aren’t as many cool options for outdoor furniture as there are for indoor,” Jendrusina says. “You’re limited by materials that can stand up to the elements.”

However, Callahan says that your outdoor space has unlimited, smile-inducing design potential—you just need to get yourself into the right mindset. “Just because it is outside doesn’t mean that it can’t have personality,” Callahan adds. “In fact, your outdoor furniture should have personality, precisely because it is outside.” Pack on the fun with smaller details such as melamine plates, rugs, or throw pillows. “Play with a blend of textures and colors,” Low recommends. “Customize when you can! Who doesn’t love a custom print?!”

Anthropologie Summer Garden Melamine Plates

Courtesy of Anthropologie

Summer Garden Melamine Dinner Plate, $12
Crate & Barrel Genoa Performance Rug

Courtesy of Crate & Barrel

Genoa Performance Tan Brown Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug, $999
Pottery Barn Modern Farmhouse Striped Outdoor Pillow

Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Modern Farmhouse Striped Outdoor Pillow, starts at $48

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