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a seat in the sun

From Habitat magazine - issue 09

Slap on the sunscreen, pull on a hat and take a seat in one of these stylish outdoor chairs.

Cayo outdoor furniture range
The Cayo Outdoor range, from Eon.

As a nation obsessed with the outdoors, we just love relaxing outside, entertaining friends at home, and hanging out with the kids in the garden. That’s why the concept of the outdoor room or living space has really taken off here; and with this lifestyle trend has come a proliferation of outdoor furniture options to suit any taste, home style, and practical requirement.

As well as the traditional timber and wrought iron we’ve all grown up with, technological advances and the use of products from the marine industry, mean outdoor furniture is now available in an array of durable, U.V.-resistant, all-weather materials.

Luxury outdoor furniture
Gracing ocean liners and luxury resorts, Dedon’s eye-catching furniture is made from hand-woven, thru-dyed synthetic fibre that’s resistant to salt water, chlorine, sun creams and U.V. light. Pictured is the Orbit, available from Domo Collections.

Among them, you’ll find Sunbrella® acrylic canvas, hard-wearing woven synthetic fibres, solution-dyed acrylic yarns, fast-drying Dripore™ foam that filters rather than absorbs water, and durable zips made from injection-moulded resin. Resistant to mould, mildew, sunscreen, fading, corrosion and extreme temperatures, these materials are ideal for the manufacture of stylish, low-maintenance outdoor furniture.

Water repellent outdoor furniture
The Danish Cane-Line range is hand-woven from easy-care fully dyed polyethylene Hularo® fibres. Strong and hard-wearing, this synthetic material is colourfast, water repellent and frost proof. Pictured is the Chester and Kingston, both in black. Available from Xteriors off Broadway, from Outdoor Furniture.

But before you rush out and make that costly impulse purchase, there are a few things to consider:

Home style and existing indoor furniture

When you walk through your home to your outdoor living space, the visual effect needs to be as seamless as possible. To achieve this, choose outdoor seating that complements your existing furniture in style and colour. Going from a living room full of ornate antique furniture to a patio furnished with streamlined modern sofas can be quite jarring, so aim for continuity of your décor.

Hand woven outdoor furniture
The Danish Cane-Line range is hand-woven from easy-care fully dyed polyethylene Hularo® fibres. Strong and hard-wearing, this synthetic material is colourfast, water repellent and frost proof. Pictured is the Chester and Kingston, both in black. Available from Xteriors off Broadway, from Outdoor Furniture.


You’ll also need to ensure the items you choose are in proportion to the space you have available. If your outdoor living area consists of a small deck, go for something like the space-saving Marine Bean. Those with more room can opt for more substantial pieces that won’t be overpowered by the scale of the garden.


Select furniture that will suit your lifestyle now and into the future. Consider who uses your outdoor living space and how. A dining table and matching chairs is the best option for alfresco dining, while comfortable chairs or sofas work great with a low coffee table for those who enjoy relaxing with a book or socialising with friends. If you’ll be going straight from the pool to your outdoor chairs, choose a fabric that can handle chlorinated water and sunscreen. Kids and pets can be rough on home furnishings, so go for materials and designs that will stand up to rigorous wear.


Coastal locations are exposed to harsh conditions, including spray and salt-laden winds that will corrode metal fixings and framing. When it comes to choosing metal furniture for a beach setting, stainless steel is the best option, followed closely by galvanised steel with a paint finish. If you live on a busy urban street, your outdoor furniture will be subjected to road grime and require regular cleaning, so look for something you can easily hose or wipe down. North and west-facing outdoor areas receive a lot of sunlight, and the associated U.V. rays can break down certain materials.

Solaire outdoor furniture
Solaire outdoor furniture
Solaire outdoor furniture
Light coloured chair: Made in New Zealand, Solaire upholstered outdoor furniture is designed to withstand our harsh environment. It features 100% solution-dyed acrylic yarns that are quick-drying, breathable and resistant to mildew, with DriPore™ foam and treated timber frames that have a five-year warranty. Pictured is the Arc Chaise, from Solaire. Dark chairs: Kuadro chairs, from Solaire. Blue/green chair: The Tate Chair and Footstool by Solaire.


If you’ll be storing your outdoor furniture in a shed or garage during winter, remember that stackable or folding pieces take up the least space. If you want or need to regularly reposition your seating, select lightweight furniture that’s easy to lift. Also, bear in mind that any damage to painted-steel framing will expose the metal to rust, which means it’s important to avoid bangs and scrapes.

Whatever outdoor furniture you settle on, think beyond the approaching summer. By choosing well-constructed, hard-wearing pieces you’ll achieve the best value for money and have furniture that will last for decades.

French, woven-metal outdoor furniture
Outdoor furniture
Viro range - outdoor furniture
Metal furniture: Inspired by French woven-metal furniture of the late 19th century, the Le Jardin collection is all galvanised with four paint finishes for an aged look, from Domo Collections. Natural look chairs: The Viro range of outdoor furniture is U.V. and weather resistant, strong, washable, recyclable and has a natural look and feel. This is the Miami Extension chair in Black and the Yin Yang chair and ottoman in Driftwood, from May Time Marketing.

Looking good

Like shining your shoes or polishing your interior woodwork, oiling your deck and furniture regularly will keep it looking its natural best while providing protection against the ravages of water, fungi and ultraviolet light. Popular amongst those who prefer the lightly oiled look to the more heavily pigmented stain finish, Resene Furniture and Decking Oil is quick and easy to apply. Recommended for annual application to decks and furniture, the product will help with water repellency and maintain timber in good condition. Resene Kwila Timber Stain is designed for use on new and weathered timber decks and furniture to enhance and restore the timber colour and provide protection against water, fungi and ultraviolet light.

Or try new Resene Timber and Furniture Gel, which is a non-drip, easy-to-apply, waterborne gel-stain designed for use on a variety of new and weathered timber surfaces, including furniture, both inside and out. It’s available in four colours from Resene.

Stylish outdoor furniture
The Marine Bean from New Zealand manufacturer Coast is a stylish, comfortable and casual seating option. Finished in Sunbrella® fabric and Mokum’s outdoor range, it comes in several sizes and formats, with matching ottomans and cushions, in a choice of great colours, from Coast New Zealand.

words: Deirdre Coleman

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