If there’s anything we learned from the pandemic, it’s that our outdoor spaces are truly an extension of our homes, places where we can hang out, entertain, enjoy a meal and even sneak in a nap year-round. “What we’ve noticed over the last year is that consumers are looking for their outdoor spaces to compete with all the style and amenities of their home’s interior,” says Lindsey Zborowski, design manager for Wayfair Professional.
As such, we should approach the design process for our outdoor area — whether it’s a patio, a porch or a beachfront terrace — just like we would any other room in our home: thoughtfully! “Key factors to consider when creating an outdoor space are the size of gatherings regularly being held there, circulation and flow patterns, sight lines to the desirable views of the surrounding landscape and home, screening undesirable views and selecting materials in harmony with the architecture and surrounding environment,” says Jarrett Kest, owner of J. Kest & Co., a boutique landscape architecture firm in New Jersey.
Adds HGTV’s “Inside Out” host, landscape designer and fire pit maker extraordinaire Mike Pyle, “I’m a huge fan of creating moments within a space — designing several areas, such as a dining and lounge space, a fire pit area or other gathering spots that will pull you in.” When doing so, of course, you’ll want to consider how much room you actually have to work with, notes Pyle, saying, “Before purchasing any furniture, make sure you have at least 5 to 6 feet of space for walkways around furniture.”
Speaking of purchases, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Investing in outdoor furniture is a costly endeavor! But here’s the thing — it’s a splurge that you’ll reap the benefits from for (fingers crossed) a very long time. “To get the right outdoor furniture that will last years, if not decades, it is definitely an investment up front,” says Taryn Whiteaker, owner of Taryn Whiteaker Designs in Seattle, Washington. “But trust me, it’s money well spent.”
With all that in mind, we culled a list of splurge-worthy products that have our stamp of approval and the praise from experts, influencers and consumers alike. Shop all of our picks below, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your outdoor living space to the max this summer.
Solo Stove Yukon
Solo is a stainless steel, wood-burning fire pit that is also smoke-free, thanks to its 360-degree ventilation design that encourages lots of airflow and thus reduces smoke. Which is exactly why it’s one of the hottest outdoor entertaining options on the market right now.
Portable at just 38 pounds, the stove actually comes in three sizes (the smallest Ranger costs $214.99), but our favorite is this 27-inch-by-17-inch Yukon version, which can burn eight to 10 logs at a time. Perfect for surrounding with four Adirondack chairs for year-round s’mores roasting, the Solo Stove instantly creates a cozy conversation area wherever it lands. More to know: Upgrade to the “bundle” to get a stand, shield, cover, tools, roasting sticks and more.
Polywood Modern Adirondack Chair
Meet Polywood’s No. 1 bestselling chair on Amazon. Boasting all the attributes we love about the brand — no maintenance, weather-resistant, zero fade and a 20-year warranty — this chair has a modern spin on the classic Adirondack style, which Kest agrees is timeless.
“You cannot go wrong with a great set of two or four Adirondack chairs,” he says. “They’re easy to clean and care for, comfortable and the armrests are perfect for holding your drink.” Available in 13 colors, this chic chair is perfect for pairing on your front lawn, on a dock or just circled ‘round a fire pit.
Altura Cantilever Umbrella
Here’s a fact: The cantilever umbrella is the most luxurious outdoor shade solution, period! And this one from Frontgate is the best of the best. Available in three sizes (10 feet by 13 feet, 11.5 feet, and 13 feet) with three color options (navy, beige and cream) and two frame finishes (a faux teak and silver), the Altura looks like something you’d find at a 5-star hotel. The powder-coated aluminum umbrella provides a massive swathe of sunbrella shade wherever it lands because it can swivel a full 360 degrees — and trust us, the crank system is incredibly easy to use.
Bonus: It comes with a cover and pole to keep the canopy fabric clean as a whistle year-round, and the base is included too. The only downside is that it’s a bit labor-intensive to assemble, requiring at least two adults to get the job done.
Simsbury Outdoor Wicker Dining Chairs, Set of 2
When Our House of Three blogger Carla Gulley was looking to revamp her outdoor dining space in Tennessee, she opted for a monochromatic mix of pieces — the vinyl wicker and powder-coated aluminum Simsbury Outdoor Wicker Dining Chairs and Side Chairs with the Bridgeport Trestle Table — all from Grandin Road.
“My goal was to create a beautiful, functional and comfortable outdoor dining area that we could enjoy for many years,” Gulley says. “Not only are the chairs beautiful, they are high-end and very comfortable with a built-in cushion. The quality, design and look of these outdoor pieces is everything I had imagined to create the outdoor space of our dreams.”
More to know: The entire Simsbury line is gorgeous, including this super-handy storage side table that comes with a removable ice bucket for entertaining.
When she was completely redoing her Utah home’s backyard area, At Home With Ashley blogger Ashley Wilson wanted to create a specific seating area surrounding her fire, and she opted to mix two navy Palmer Chairs with two white Luciana Benches ($296 each).
“Last year I redid my fire pit area and completely used Grandin Road furniture to furnish it,” she says. “I love their pieces because they’re stylish and comfortable. This is the spot in my yard where everyone gathers at parties, and there’s plenty of seating for everyone.”
Just like your interior rooms, outdoor living spaces can never have too many garden stools. Perfectly on-trend with its gray cement appearance, the Petra comes in two hues (a darker charcoal and a lighter sandstone) and three styles. We tried out the tapered version and loved how light but sturdy it was, how the rope handles are great for portability and the fact that it can be used as an end table for corralling cocktails or a stool for extra seating.
Rectangular Outdoor Market Umbrella
Does anyone enjoy eating or lounging in the blistering sun? No. This is why creating shady areas in your outdoor space is well worth the investment. We love the Outdoor Market umbrellas from Grandin Road for a lot of reasons. First, their ultra-durable polyester canopies are fade-resistant, which means they’re built to last and will look great for years to come. Second, the crank system is smooth and fast; you don’t need muscles to get the umbrellas open. And lastly, once fully open, there’s a tilt button that can angle the canopy in two directions, providing shade to even more areas.
We tried out the rectangular option, but an octagonal version is also available in a slew of fun summery colors. Editor’s tip: Treat yourself to the brand’s rechargeable umbrella light that clamps onto the pole and will illuminate your late-night alfresco dinners.
Levine Console Table
One can never have enough surface space (indoors or out!), which is why we’re obsessed with this chic console table that has loads of catchall space and is simple enough to pair well with your existing furniture. Available in black, beige and white, the mahogany/eucalyptus piece is durable and features a lacquered paint with a urethane finish that will keep it looking pristine all summer long. With two shelves for storage — and a sub-$200 price tag — this splurge is a no-brainer.
Hypnos Tile Outdoor Rug & Mat
When it came to finding a rug to accent her gray-hued dining set, Gulley “fell in love with the design and the colors of Hypnos,” which she says grounds her space and adds a pop of color. Crafted from ultra-durable polypropylene, the rug is stain-, fade- and mildew-resistant.
Orren Ellis Belle Stone Propane Outdoor Fire Pit Table
Fire tables are among our favorite outdoor entertaining items because they churn out some serious smoke-free heat, look gorgeous and can be turned off in seconds. This one fits right in with the stone/cement trend taking over outdoor spaces right now and will elevate your space’s chic factor big time. Available in dark and light gray hues, the table comes with a propane tank cover that can double as an end table. More than 1,100 Wayfair shoppers agree it’s worth the splurge.
Polywood Chippendale 7-Piece Dining Set
Founded three decades ago in Indiana, Polywood is an outdoor furniture company that creates dining sets, sectionals, chairs and tables from HDPE recycled plastics — approximately 30,000 milk jugs are recycled per hour to create the brand’s all-weather lumber. Which leads us to say: We’re obsessed! Virtually maintenance-free, the Polywood pieces like this gorgeous dining set mimic the look of wood, yet they are built to withstand all climates, they’re completely waterproof, have color-stay technology and they’ll never splinter, crack, chip or peel.
Truly, all you need to keep a Polywood set looking pristine year after year is soap, water and sponge for a light wash. We’ve tested the goods ourselves and can confirm they are well worth the splurge, and will look just as good on day 1,000 as they did on day one. Did we mention each purchase comes with a 20-year warranty? Available in a slew of colors and styles, the hardest part is deciding which set best matches your aesthetic.
Joss & Main Fiberglass Planter Box
“Planters are a wonderful way to add interest to your space and you need to think bigger than just a small accessory, you can use them to create privacy or delineate one area from another area with a nice long low planter like this one,” says Kest. “Change out the plants seasonally as you wish, and use mulch in the bottom half before you add potting soil — an insider’s trick that is less expensive, lighter and lets the water drain!”
SunHaven Kensington 12-Piece Large Sectional Set
Whether you have a big family or simply love hosting the whole neighborhood on game day, this giant sectional set from SunHaven is our absolute favorite for the price. Featuring a whopping 12 pieces, including the huge sectional, two club chairs, two ottomans, all the coordinating cushions and a coffee table, the set can easily accommodate 10 adults or a dozen kids.
We tested the product in real life and found that not only are the pieces gorgeous to look at — seriously, it’s like something you’d find in the lobby of a fancy island hotel — but they’re also incredibly comfortable, with deep seating and ultra-plush materials.
We also loved how the set is modular, meaning you can rearrange your seating setup on the fly, but it’s also super stable, thanks to the clips that keep the pieces attached. Did we mention that it comes preassembled with zero setup involved? Done and done.
Serena & Lily
Capistrano Lounge Chair
Oozing with Palm Springs vibes, this easy, breezy chair is made of resin wrapped over aluminum — meaning that while it looks dainty, it’s incredibly solid too.
“We used these at a large patio space on a project in Florida and they look stunning,” says Lindsay Kate Bilchik, owner and principal designer of L. Kate Interiors based in Connecticut. “The thick weave of the back is sturdy and has such a pretty design, it adds so much to the space. The chairs are super cozy too and can be moved from the table to be used as accent chairs.”
Concrete Outdoor Stool
The phrase “the more the merrier” could certainly apply to garden stools when it comes to outfitting your outdoor space. Kest advises, “Go for light enough to move easily, great to put a drink on and wide and sturdy enough to sit on if needed. We love the clean lines of this one.” Crafted from high-strength, glass fiber-reinforced concrete, the stool’s neutral palette is guaranteed to seamlessly blend with your existing decor.
You can never go wrong with a good old-fashioned sling chair, something that New Jersey-based lifestyle blogger Carly A. Riordan knows all too well.
“Generally speaking, I look for items that are both functional and fashionable when splurging on our backyard space. We spend a lot of time out there, so it’s important to me that the items work as well as they look,” she tells us. “Serena & Lily’s outdoor collection is so darling, and it’s hard to pick favorites. Last year we got these gingham sling chairs, which are so comfortable, and I love that you can also buy a matching camp stool ($298) so you can really kick up your feet and relax.”
SunHaven Olivia 7-Piece Outdoor Roped Wicker Sofa Set
If you’re looking for patio pieces that are a bit more design-minded, we love this natural roped wicker set from SunHaven. Featuring a sturdy aluminum frame and ultra-thick cushions, the Olivia set is also no-assembly-required. Available in a multitude of set sizes and in two colorways (natural/ivory and gray), we can attest that the purchase is well worth the splurge, and still a fraction of the cost of higher-end brands with similar looks.
Eton Umbrella Table
“These Frontgate umbrellas are a favorite of ours; they come in all different sizes and colors, and we especially love the tilt feature,” says Kest.
And don’t forget the base. You can get one that doubles as a side table, or if you are using the umbrella in an area that you may want to move o
29 pieces of outdoor furniture that are worth the splurge, according to experts
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