Ask the Expert: Gina Wicker, Design & Creative Director, Sunbrella® Fabrics
Gina Wicker answers your questions about outdoor furniture
Expert: Gina Wicker
Gina Wicker is the Design and Creative Director for Sunbrella® fabrics, with oversight of fabric design for the casual, residential, contract and catalog markets. With more than 20 years’ experience in the textile industry, Wicker manages the creative elements for the Sunbrella brand, including photography, advertising, collateral, website design and sampling. She earned a B.S. in textiles with a concentration in design from N.C. State University and an MBA from Duke University.
A self-described home décor and garden enthusiast, Wicker is happiest when she is surrounded by beautiful fabrics and furnishings, abundant plants and flowers, friends and family.
Q: We love to grill out with friends and eat outdoors, but we also like to use the outdoor space for lounging and relaxing. What outdoor furniture pieces would allow us to do both?
A: Today’s outdoor furniture selection is amazing – pretty much any piece of furniture you have indoors is available for outdoors, too. It sounds like a combination of lounging and dining furniture may work best for you. Look for an outdoor sofa or loveseat along with chairs for lounging. Add a large ottoman or coffee table in the middle that could double as a dining table. Or invest in a bistro table and chairs that can easily be moved depending on your number of guests.
Q: The outdoor living room trend is everywhere. I’d love to create a small space on my deck for enjoying weekend cocktails with friends, but don’t know where to start. Help!
A: The best way to start is to pick a piece of furniture that you love, such as a loveseat, chair and ottoman or chaise lounge, and design your space around it. Select an outdoor rug to give your space some definition. Drapes made with outdoor fabrics can soften your outdoor room and give it a romantic feel. Don’t forget about shade – add an umbrella or even a retractable awning to make sure you have the shade you need to enjoy outdoor living all day long. Choose furniture and accessories in colors that complement your landscaping – go for bright colors if you have lots of greenery in the yard. Neutral colors such as white are a fun contrast to flowering annuals. Add potted plants, fun lanterns or candles, a glass of wine, and enjoy!
Q: With the warm weather coming, I’d like to take my outdoor cushions out of storage and prepare them for the upcoming season. Do I need to do anything special to keep the fabric looking beautiful?
A: While you may have invested in quality outdoor fabrics that are easily maintained, it doesn’t mean they’re maintenance-free. When taking your cushions out of storage, thoroughly inspect them for any mold or mildew that might have grown. If there are any stains, clean the cushions right away to keep them from becoming more difficult to clean later on.
To keep your outdoor fabrics looking good, and to delay deep or vigorous cleanings, follow these quick tips for easy maintenance. Brush off dirt before it becomes embedded in the fabrics, wipe up spills quickly or spot clean soon after stains occur. Cushions on pool decks are more likely to get oil-based stains due to sunscreens and lotions. Clean oil-based spills right away – the longer it sits, the more difficult it is to remove.
Most stains can be removed with mild, soapy water and a soft bristle brush, but if you have to deal with an especially difficult stain, there are many ways to tackle it including the use of full strength bleach if needed. When your outdoor fabric is ready for a thorough cleaning, visit Sunbrella.com/cleaning for details.