Decking furniture ideas – 10 ways to furnish a stylish backyard
Try out these decking furniture ideas for a backyard deck that's comfortable and looks good too
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Decking furniture ideas can encompass a range of styles, depending on the size of your outdoor space, the type of home you live in and your lifestyle. From outdoor seating areas for sipping sundowners and hosting friends to sheltered spots for al fresco lunches or moonlit meals, with a little imagination and planning a beautiful outside space can easily be yours.
'Your outdoor furniture is often the first thing you see when you walk into the garden and with the recent popularity of glass-fronted extensions, it’s often very much on view from your house, so it needs to look good,' says garden designer Catherine Clancy.
From a design point of view, the furniture can make or break your deck ideas, so getting it right is key. Take inspiration from these designer-led ideas for a super stylish, well-furnished deck.
10 decking furniture ideas for your yard
'It is really important to get your tape measure out, measure your deck and then plot out the positions of the garden furniture before you buy it,' continues Catherine Clancy. 'Bring your indoor table and chairs outside so you can visualize the space, and ensure you get the sizes and the amount of furniture right. Choose good quality pieces that will suit your taste, the style of the garden and your house.'
1. Max space with dual-use seating
Built-in outdoor seating can maximize small spaces and serve as extra summer storage if it's made to be waterproof. Being savvy spatially may mean you can make room for a fire pit or more outdoor furniture.
'Customized seating can be designed to flow with your garden style; stone and brick can be manipulated to make comfortable plinths for cushions, and wood can be used to make seamlessly elegant dual-use seating,' says award-winning landscape designer, Kate Gould (opens in new tab).
'Individual elements can be tailored to fit corners or difficult spaces to help you make the best possible use of the garden. Sofas or benches with lift-up seating for cushion storage are really useful too, especially in a rainy climate where putting cushions out and taking them in again can be more than a daily occurrence and a true chore.'
2. Choose design classics
As with interiors, furnishing your backyard with modern design classics (or pieces influenced by them) will lend a stylish timeless look.
'Classic café furniture always looks good and fun,' says James Mair, founder of design showroom, Viaduct (opens in new tab). 'Timber doesn’t date and minimal simple shapes will last too. Although be mindful that skinny legs can be a problem if they're thin enough to fall through gaps, so chairs with metal rods are great.
'Personally, I prefer round tables for small gatherings. Think about the numbers that will be using the table to work out the right size. For example, roughly calculate the circumference of a table by multiplying the diameter by 3 and then allowing 25 inches per person.'
3. Consider low sofas to lounge on
If you want to be able to relax outside on a sunny day, comfort is key. So consider the size and style of sofa in relation to your backyard deck and whether you want to be able to sit, lounge or both.
'The best ways to create a soothing deck space is to have furniture that's long enough to lay out on, an ample amount of shade, and lush plants surrounding the space. I like to surround a cozy space with pots, which adds a soft aesthetic,' says landscape designer Kate Anne, founder Kate Anne Designs (opens in new tab).
'The key is to have walkability around the space and through to the rest of the yard. I also try to position the dining layout, so as to not block the views of the yard from the inside of the home.'
4. Upcycle chairs for a mismatched style
Mixing vintage or upcycled pieces results in an original look that's hard to copy. Even better if you've saved perfectly good furniture from going to landfill and given it your own creative spin with the best exterior paint.
'A lick of chalk paint is the easiest way to immediately transform your decking furniture,' says colour expert, Annie Sloan (opens in new tab). 'Crisp whites, Mediterranean neutrals or tropical brights will bring sunshine, and cheer all year round.
'If you’re feeling bold, paint each chair in a different colour. Or create a spectrum of neutrals, going from light to dark. Just remember to use water-resistant UV protective chalk paint lacquer on furniture afterwards to protect it.'
5. Add interest with earthy tones and textures
Natural materials and neutral hues look gorgeous outside, yet they can end up looking a little bland on a timber deck, if you're not careful.
Prevent outdoor furniture from looking soulless by including lots of wonderful texture and earthy tones. These simple white wicker chairs look beautiful teamed with a reclaimed timber coffee table and plenty of terracotta plant pots, set against an olive green wall.
'When choosing colours, pick up on the tones found in your garden, your home exterior or any of your other outdoor decor,' says garden designer, Catherine Clancy (opens in new tab). 'You can go bold with furniture colours or choose neutral furniture, reserving bolder colours for cushions and accent pieces, allowing you to change them.'
6. Separate dining and seating areas
If your decking space is limited prioritize how you wish to use it. Is it more important to be able to dine on your patio under cover and lounge in the garden in a sunny spot, or vice versa?
'Think about how you want to use the space and how you want it to feel before deciding which elements to include,' says Catherine Clancy. 'This will help you to create a coherent separate dining and seating area. Ideally, you need to leave at least a 3 feet around your dining table and chairs so that chairs can be pulled out comfortably and safely.'
7. Blend furniture with foliage
Palm prints have been a huge interior trend for some time and with the rise in biophilic design look set to stay a while. So what better place to introduce a leafy print than on the upholstery for your decking furniture?
Using a botanical or palm print for your outdoor seating cushions is a fun way to connect interior and exterior style. Especially if you repeat it with the real deal.
What's more, research has shown that looking at nature's colours, such as green, lowers our heart rate and makes us feel calmer. So your decking furniture will look good - and feel good.
8. Introduce woven plant fibers
It goes without saying that natural materials work well outside, but think beyond timber, when considering decking furniture ideas. More wood on a wooden deck can look a bit 'samey' and there are a plethora of plant fibres being used for stylish outdoor furniture.
'When it comes to textures and materials in the garden or deck, 2022 is all about including elements that have a natural feel,' says Juliette Thomas, founder of Juliettes Interiors (opens in new tab). 'From raffia and jute, to rope, natural materials are an aesthetically modern choice. As well as ensuring a seamless connection with nature, woven materials such as wicker are a more sustainable option for outside areas.'
9. Accessorize as you would inside
If you're intending to spend a lot of time outdoors this summer, make your decking furniture as inviting as your interior with attractive accessories.
Choose hardwearing materials such as timber and steel for permanent pieces like a mirror, lighting or occasional tables, as they will be able to withstand the elements.
And make sure you have somewhere to store softer items such as cushions, throws and rugs, when the weather turns cooler.
'Always use good quality furniture with either aluminium or stainless-steel frames if in metal or hardwood if in timber. And all the soft furnishing fabrics should be permeable and designed for outdoor use,' advises landscape designer, Charlotte Rowe (opens in new tab).
10. Go for a sleek, built-in option
To save space on a small deck or garden, opt for built-in seating that complements your fence and surrounding walls. In the summer you can cover it with comfy cushions and throws and hang out. While during the winter it can become a perch for hardy pot plants and will virtually 'disappear' into the background.
'Coordination of materials is vital to achieve a cohesive effect. By selecting items that go together or talk to your scheme you will achieve a much better whole,' says landscape designer, Kate Gould (opens in new tab).
What kind of furniture is good for a deck?
'Anodised aluminum works well, as does epoxy powder-coated steel and some timbers develop a beautiful patina as they age,' says James Mair, founder, of Viaduct. 'The priority is storage. Where does the furniture live when it’s not being used or in winter? Does it need to live outdoors all the time? If storage is limited, then look at stacking and folding options.
'If timber furniture is being left outside all year round, then I would only recommend hardwood. In spring, give it a scrub and let it dry naturally. The grey patina that develops over the years always blends well into a garden.'
How should furniture be arranged on a deck?
'Furniture should never crowd out your decking space, there should be plenty of room to move around,' says garden designer, Catherine Clancy. 'As a rule, try not to fill than two thirds of the decking space with furniture or it will look cluttered. Less is more. People to be able to walk around and feel comfortable.'
Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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