We asked Pam Burke, seasonal and holiday merchant for Orchard Supply Hardware, for her expert advice on designing and updating your outdoor living spaces.

Pam Burke, Seasonal & Holiday Merchant at Orchard Supply Hardware

I moved from where it’s always sunny to where it’s windy and rains quite a bit. My wood furniture just isn’t going to cut it. What type of material should I purchase? –Mallory Shreff, Portland, OR

Aluminum is the best for holding up in damp climates. It will not rust or mildew as steel or wood is prone to do. That being said, you should bring your cushions in during the winter months and cover your frame with a patio furniture cover to get the maximum life out of your furniture. There are many wonderful finishes available in aluminum such as bronze, brown, or hand-painted wood looks.

My yard needs to be upgraded, but I don’t want to replace my major pieces—the outdoor loveseat and two chairs, all with iron frames. How can I add to or tweak my existing furniture to make it look new? –Lydia Kwon, Santa Barbara, CA

If your set has cushions, you can replace them with new Sunbrella cushions. They come in a variety of styles and colors. Another way to update your furniture is to add some fun and colorful accessories; outdoor toss pillows, lanterns, glass candleholders, and outdoor rugs are easy ways to incorporate the latest trends into your outdoor living space. Think of accessorizing your outdoor space as you would your indoor rooms.

I love a cute set of outdoor furniture, but my husband likes the purely for-comfort pieces. Is there any hope for a compromise? –Katy Stone, Denver, CO 

Absolutely, there are many options. Patio furniture has evolved over the years to be functional and fashionable. Look for something that has an aluminum frame, with oversized cushions. Conversation sets that include a coffee table and four chairs with rocking motion will double as a relaxing lounge or a dining set. You can also add a beautiful firepit around which to group the chairs. Look for a firepit that is big enough to place drinks and plates on the edges.


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