Discover what to look for when investing in quality outdoor furniture in this interview with Eco Outdoor co-owner Jen Stumbles and Homes To Love.
HTL: HOW do you BALANCE COMFORT AND STYLE?
Jen: Comfort is really key when it comes to quality outdoor furniture because the way we live outdoors is different. Even those of us with busy lives like to take it slow; we lounge about and we spend more time relaxing in a chair with a good book or lounging about on a sofa chatting with friends.
When it comes to outdoor furniture design, comfort and durability will always be slightly competing forces. The best reticulated quick dry foams will drain far more effectively than traditional Dacron foams. Both are fine for the outdoors but if you want something to leave outside in the rain all year round, we’d advise you to choose a hardier piece with reticulated foam so you can tip it on its side and literally watch the water run out of the cushion.
Conversely, if you’ve got an outdoor space which is slightly undercover, you have more flexibility in choosing a plush sofa with Dacron wrapped foam. This will be a lot softer, it will still drain but it probably doesn’t want to be left in full rain all winter long, partially undercover is better.
HTL: How do you CHOOSE QUALITY outdoor FABRICS?
The other key aspect of investing in outdoor furniture is fabric choice. If you want to soften up your outdoor setting and love the comfort of upholstered furniture you need to choose a really good quality outdoor fabric.
Jen: Gone are the days of choice being limited to heavy printed acrylics. We’ve been working to develop a range of specialist outdoor Belgian linens that are super soft and look fantastic. For me, one of the most exciting step changes in outdoor furniture has been getting these outdoor linens right. They feel amazing, they look as beautiful as any indoor linen sofa and most importantly, they age really gracefully.
I’ve got some Belgian linen cushions that I’ve had outside for about 3 years and when you wash Belgian linen, it just gets better with age. You get this lovely stonewashed patina that is even better than new linen. In fact, on a recent photo shoot for our furniture catalogue, I actually swapped out the new linen cushions for my older ones because the imperfections and stonewashed patina on mine were so beautiful!
HTL: Key considerations for OUTDOOR FABRICS & FILLERS
Jen: There’s a fair bit of thought that goes into the design of different outdoor furniture ranges to suit different environments. But, the critical thing is also how our staff advise customers on what they should look for in terms of durability.
In more open spaces where cushions will be exposed to the elements more regularly (full rain or full sun); we’d recommend reticulated foam cushions with less Dacron wrap to aid drainage. In terms of fabrics, you’d be better with acrylics which resist sun fade and moisture most effectively. You’ll see many of our ranges also have drainage mesh on the underside of cushions which increases ventilation and helps cushions dry more effectively.
HTL: What are your FAMILY FAVOURITES
Jen: We’ve got the Malua® sofa and Barwon® chairs outside at home which we basically live in over summer. Probably my favourite piece in the whole collection right now though is the Nomah® – it’s everything I love about outdoor furniture. It’s a super modern profile, soft seats with linen covers and hardy enough to use indoor for the kids all year round.