When it comes to furnishing your outdoor space, comfort is key. From cozy lounge chairs to useful sectionals and cool daybeds, new furnishings can turn your outdoor area into a sanctuary for relaxation or the ideal spot for entertaining and hosting. Shopping for outdoor furniture is no easy feat, and considering all the options on the market, it can be an overwhelming task. To help you find the perfect outdoor furniture for your home, we enlisted the help of interior design expert Julie Brayton, principal and cofounder of Brayton Interiors.
What is the best outdoor furniture to have?
If you're looking to revamp your whole backyard from scratch, Brayton recommends starting with outdoor lighting, which can immediately make the area more inviting. Then, she suggests figuring out how you'll be using the space. "If it's you and a partner, I would start with a small bistro table and two chairs to enjoy coffee or dinner outside," she says. "If you've got a family who loves to eat outside or someone who likes entertaining outside, go with a dining table and chairs and or a bench."
To help determine which outdoor furniture pieces to invest in, consider the arrangement first. Brayton likes to create different seating zones. "Depending on what your space looks like, a place for dining will likely be the first area to appear, and then perhaps it's a two-seater bench at the end of your patio or yard, or behind your dining table," she says. "Maybe two deeper lounge chairs show up in an opposite part of the space."
She also advises picking furniture that matches your home's architecture, as well as the style of your interiors, including color scheme, furniture shapes, and materials. Whether your home leans contemporary and modern or has a more rustic and bohemian vibe, it's best to choose outdoor furniture that reflects that aesthetic so your entire home flows together.
In terms of material, she suggests pieces made with wicker, iron, and teak. As Brayton points out, outdoor furniture will likely develop a patina over time, which we shouldn't be afraid to embrace because it adds charm and shows depth. She also loves incorporating upholstery and textiles to soften up the space. "Seasonally, you can switch out blankets or pillows to make seating more comfortable," she says. However, she recommends using covers and outdoor storage to protect fabrics from weather, staining, and sun-bleaching.
Where can you buy the best outdoor furniture?
"Big-box retailers have some great looking outdoor pieces," Brayton says. Stores like Amazon, Target, and Wayfair sell plenty of options that vary in design and price points. We're also fond of outdoor collections from West Elm, Article, and Castlery.
Ahead, we curated the best, most comfortable outdoor furniture pieces on the market. Shop our top picks.