Deck Furniture and Seating

Choosing the furnishings for your deck should be an integral part of your planning. A deck without furnishings isn't very inviting; furniture and accessories enliven a deck, adding to its charm and making it more attractive. They have a remarkable influence on how you feel about the deck, and thus how often you use it.
Furnishings and your lifestyle

Your first thought about deck furniture will probably be, "What should it look like?" It's easier to answer that question by making sure the furniture you choose reflects the purposes of the space. For example, chairs and tables for a dining area are certain to be different from chairs and tables for a lounging area. Pick colors and styles that fit into the overall design scheme of your deck and its environment.

Be practical, too, when choosing furnishings for outdoor use. Choose durable materials that offer year-round usability. Your deck furnishings should be weatherproof, durable, and easy to move around. If possible they should be made with removable cushions for quick cleaning. If you won't use your deck in the winter, design an outside storage area so you can conveniently protect furniture cushions out of the elements.

Seating -- freestanding or built-in?

Seating on your deck will fall into one of two categories.

Freestanding seating -- rockers, chairs, lounges, and dining sets with cushions, come in more design styles than built-in units. Freestanding furnishings also can make the use of your deck more flexible -- you can move them around to change the nature of the space.

If you design your deck for entertaining large groups of people, keep some folding canvas chairs handy for overflow crowds. Design your storage area so it's large enough to keep the chairs out of the way when you don't need them.

Built-in seating isn't portable, but it offers a few advantages that freestanding furniture doesn't: It takes up less space and, cleverly designed, can also serve as storage.

Attached benches are the most basic form of built-in seating, but planters, retaining walls, and freestanding walls can fill in as benches if you construct their top surfaces wide enough.

Stairs are an often overlooked opportunity for built-in seating. In a crowded setting, if stair treads are wide and deep enough, your guests will sit on them. Build your stairs at least 4 feet wide if you want them to serve as seating. Sturdy handrails are a must for walking safety, but also can act as grab bars to help people stand up.

Sizing up the furniture

Getting the outdoor furniture scaled to its space sometimes calls for a little strategy. In small deck areas, use round tables -- they take up less space than square or rectangular ones.

In larger spaces set up conversation areas with groupings of tables and chairs or lounges and side tables. Include a serving cart and leave plenty of room to walk around the furniture.

The rule of 18

You can be sure that built-in seating areas will be comfortable if you make them 18 inches deep and 18 inches above the deck surface.

 

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