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Woven plastic furniture has been dominating our backyards for pretty much a decade. The wicker style weave mimics normal rattan but it's far more durable than its natural alternative, making it a stylishly practical choice for our backyards. Now though, with summer 2023 well within our sights, it's safe to say this synthetic outdoor furniture has outstayed its welcome. The question is, what will replace it?
Polyrattan, resin wicker, synthetic rattan - whatever you choose to call it - woven furniture has been a mainstay on patios, decking, and lawns for a long time. Being low-maintenance, lightweight, and typically UV-resistant, it's a great option for modern outdoor furniture that lasts. Unfortunately, though, with its ultra-modern style and plastic material, it falls short of timeless design, outliving itself as a garden trend.
To find out what furniture options we should be investing in instead that promise the same durability but an even more enduring style, we spoke with some garden furniture experts who know a thing or two about curating a stylish outdoor setting that stands the test of time. Here are the trending outdoor furniture materials they believe are overtaking resin wicker for the foreseeable.
Is synthetic rattan furniture out of style?
When a style of furniture has been commonplace for so long, it's hard to imagine it falling out of fashion. Something about plastic woven outdoor seating, however, despite being one of the outdoor furniture types that lasts the longest, is starting to look dated.
'While I’m still seeing lots of synthetic rattan and wicker on the market, I do think it is beginning to fall to the wayside,' says Kat Aul Cervoni, founder of New York City-based landscape design firm Staghorn. 'Many of the trends this season seem to be leaning towards cleaner, more modern profiles with more understated textures.'
According to Asli Çeçen, furniture expert and founder of Sazy, this is in part down to our changes in preference as we look for more diverse colors and versatility from our furniture. 'Synthetic rattan, in general, tends to be offered in more traditional colors and finishes that replicate wood, such as browns, creams, and blacks,' she says. 'Now, more homeowners are looking to tap into the dopamine trend and add some color to their gardens, of which synthetic rattan furniture is limited.'
What's replacing plastic rattan furniture?
So if not outdoor rattan, what are landscape designers choosing instead? Here are three types of furniture that's coming through as a the next big backyard trends.
Durability has become ever-more important when we look to spend money on furniture for our backyards, with metal options proving one of the best options for the job. According to experts, that's led to an overriding preference for aluminum.
'Not only is it durable and easy to maintain, but it comes with more adventurous color options, and so is suitable for homeowners wanting to inject some personality and fun into their gardens,' notes Asli. 'Like synthetic rattan, powder-coated aluminum is also rust and moisture-resistant and will keep its shape and style for years to come.'
It has some advantages that trump our long-loved rattan furniture, too. 'Metal-framed furniture absolutely outperforms synthetic on longevity and ease of care,' says Kat. 'It can handle any weather, be easily cleaned off with a hose and cloth or sponge, and paint touch-ups are often manageable if needed.' She also notes that the metal framing has the benefit of feeling more timeless, so it outlasts plastic weave from an aesthetic standpoint, too.
2. Upholstered outdoor furniture
This summer, we've certainly noticed a growing desire to replicate an 'indoor' vibe when it comes to outdoor furniture. Heavily linked to the emerging trend for outdoor living rooms, this translates to cozy, plush upholstered furniture that offers ultimate comfort and relaxation.
Kat's noticed a preference for this kind of furniture amongst her customers, too. 'This season, I’m seeing a lot of heavily or fully upholstered outdoor furniture pieces - things that, at first glance, look unmistakably like indoor lounge furniture,' she says. 'They bring an extra level of plushness and comfort to outdoor pieces and are covered in weather-resistant fabric.'
When it comes to choosing an outdoor furniture set to fit the bill, just be sure to cover these pieces during wetter weather and winter months when not in use. This will help with future upkeep and ensure the longevity of your furniture.
3. California coastal
Last but not least, a fresh, stylish trend that's made itself known of late is what we're calling California Coastal. Similar to the interior design trend, this pared-back furniture style makes use of neutral colors and cool, calming textiles for a beachy feel. The best part is, this sort of furniture combines both metal frames and heavy, upholstered materials for the best of both worlds.
'This Californian contemporary style is one of the more prominent trends with generous proportions, square profiles, and wood or metal framing,' says Kat. 'I find this style often feels contemporary and timeless at the same time, making it one that will still feel relevant for many seasons to come.'
When shopping, look out for black or grey aluminum frames with clean lines and angular shapes, combined with super comfortable cushioning for a laidback look. It's outdoor furniture that takes lounging in the sun to new heights. You know where to find us next heatwave!
And if you still want rattan, here are 3 pieces we love
The Livingetc Newsletter
For style leaders and design lovers.
Lilith Hudson is the Staff Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.
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