Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Style Ideas for Your Outdoor Patio Living Space

When you know what you like, sometimes it's hard to "settle" for something else or buck the trends that everyone else seems to be getting into. Nowhere is that more true than with furnishing and decorating, especially for the outdoors. While it might be fun to be "trendy", it's often better to shoot for simplicity. The Next Big Thing often ends up being a bust within a very short time, and now your space looks "dated". And after spending a lot on high-end furniture, who wants that?

It is with this in mind that we take a look at some classic design motifs, which are elegant and timeless. These are the kinds of designs that an update to cushions or pillows or draperies can change an entire look, allowing you flexibility and creativity for different times of the year.

Outdoor English Garden:

If you want to do it like the Brits do it, you will bless your space with an overabundance of flowers and other greenery, to enhance the decor of an older-style or historic home.  For this design, you would probably want to utilize furniture in teaks or other hardwoods, in keeping with the traditional gardens of old. Your cushions and pillows might be made of gingham material or prints (though you need to be careful not to have an array of flowered fabric competing too much with the real things). So best to look for timeless solids for large cushions, and accent pillows of florals or other light prints.






Modern Contemporary

Contemporary often is used as a catch-all term for "anything that doesn't have its own look", but true contemporary is a mixture of influences, new technologies, and trends (there's that word again!). One can "blend" different styles as long as one keeps it simple. This look is generally bereft of clutter, is understated yet elegant, and is not overwhelmed with multiple colors. Straight lines in metal or aluminum--or if you like wood and don't mind spending a lot, you can find a lot of teak furniture that is considered "contemporary design". Great accents to a basic sofa or patio chairs or chaises might be a bold-patterned throw rug or unique tile or decking, or some wall art which matches the general color scheme. Voila! Instant modern...



Mediterranean

 A personal favorite where we are (Texas), this style evokes the world of old, utilizing warm colors and traditional furniture. Much of the design is very basic, made of metal or wood (which gives you a broad selection of aluminums, teaks, or wickers). Tiling is an excellent way to create the feel--underneath a basic outdoor sofa or chairs, this can be used to capture the atmosphere as strongly as furniture and color schemes. The colors are also traditional--ivories, rust, apricots, creams, accented with degrees of blues and greens (turquoise being a particular favorite). But you can do so much with this--a simple change of pillows or planters can make all the difference.

 

 Last but not least:

Asian

Clean, simple, elegant and tranquil--if you have a smaller space and imagination, you can make a lot out of a little. The wonderful thing about this decor is that your furniture can be contemporary or old-fashioned--it's almost more about the accessories than the furniture, which allows for a lot of creativity and flexibility. Below, the decorator used the underneath side of a deck, and built around that, using hanging lantern fixtures and the wood decor to enhance a feeling of peacefulness and openness.




The greatest part of all is that we have so many colors and fabrics to choose from, you're sure to find a pattern or color to inspire you. Visit our fabric pages to take a look--you can order the fabric to make your own, or you can send us measurements and we can customize some cushions especially for you. The sky is the limit!

Till next time...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meanwhile, Back in the Land of New Fabrics...

We will see some fine new colors and patterns for next season! The 2014 colors are arriving in droves, and they're beautiful!! We have a bounty of Sunbrella outdoor fabrics, along with some kicky Premier colors--these are too pretty to keep to ourselves!

These will be available for ordering as soon as we can get them in by the bolt! We will definitely let you know when that happens. In the meantime, enjoy :)


Printed polyesters from Premier Fabrics will make great outdoor pillows and seat pads!

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014


But Can We Fix It?





Having done this sort of thing for over 20 years now, there are days when patio furniture repair tasks can be a wee bit predictable--particularly at the end of the season, when we get our weekends back! This is the time I take a look around my own backyard, both to think about my furnishing/designing goals for next season, as well as to assess what might need fixing after this past summer's activities.

When doing the latter the other day, I noticed one of our older sling-chaise lounges had the sling torn up. As I went to grab my measuring tape, I had an awful thought:

Isn't this the chair that I really can't fix myself?

Whereupon I reached for my trusty Chair Care Patio Furniture Repair Replacement Sling FAQ. Sure enough, there it was: The Welded Stabilizer Bar!




Ugh. Yes, I have that. Allow me to share the following, because it'll save you hours of trying to measure something you're ultimately going to need additional professional help with:



Are there sling chairs that are too hard for the do-it-yourself fixer to fix?
While the majority of replacement slings can be installed by the customer, there are a couple that we strongly recommend you NOT try to install.

WELDED STABILIZER BARS AT THE BACK OF THE FRAME
Some chairs and chaise lounges have welded stabilizer bars at the back of the frame that give the chair back strength. The stabilizer bar cannot be removed, making the installation and correct fit of the sling very difficult. We highly recommend that you not attempt such installations at home.

SLING RAIL OPENING IS ON THE SIDE OR AT THE BACK OF THE FRAME
Chair Care Patio only makes sling for patio chairs and chaises where the opening of the sling rail is positioned at the front of the chair. Occasionally you will see sling furniture where the sling wraps around the side or to the back of the frame. These slings are very difficult to install for the homeowner. And, our measuring formula does NOT WORK for this style of chair. This furniture also has welded stabilizer bars at the back making EXTRA DIFFICULT to install. Please do not order slings for this style of furniture from our website. They will not fit and you will NOT be able to get them installed. It takes a professional installer to complete this project.
Please inspect the construction of your patio sling chair or chaise lounge prior to ordering. Here is an example of a chair with the sling rail opening to the side and not the front.


If you find yourself with this dilemma, or have questions about it, please drop us an email at info@chaircarepatio.com. We're happy to provide clarity on this. We want to be absolutely up-front with our customers--we don't want you to order slings you can't use and can't return because they aren't installable as a DIY project by anyone other than the pros. 

Meanwhile, my torn-up chaise lounge will have to wait until I can get 'er into the shop for repairs. I do so love, though, that these types of chairs are not so common (naturally, I have a set of four, so grateful that only one needs fixing :)) Hmmm. I see that webbed aluminum chair that I've been putting off the re-webbing on is still waiting for me to fix it. That should keep me busy for a few days. In fact, I can even get the webbing on sale!

Until next time! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Patio Furniture: What Makes It "High-Quality Furniture"?

Is buying up patio furniture after Labor Day the smart way to shop? It sure looks that way, as we've been seeing lots of great ads and sales for "outdoor furniture clearance sales". It makes sense, too; the bulk of summertime activity is over and done, the kids are back in school and now there's some time to sit back and plan ahead for next year. So now's the time, really, to be checking around for deals. 

But what is "high-quality" when it comes to actual construction and makeup of such patio furniture? Do you get what you pay for, even when it's on sale? How do you know if "high-quality" is what you're really getting? We get asked this a lot, and this is as good a time as any to try and provide an answer.

First and foremost, understand that "high quality" does not always equal "spending big bucks!" If you're looking for furniture that you won't use a lot, and you figure to replace it altogether every few years, you would probably do well to stick with casual low- to mid-price individual patio pieces or outdoor sets. You can find these at just about every major retailer. Lowe's, Target and K-Mart all feature a wide variety of such furniture, at some really great season-ending prices (last year, K-Mart kicked everyone's butt by marking outdoor furniture down up to 90%, so watch those ads, both in print and online). If you're looking to spend a little more but still don't want to spend as much as you might on interior furniture, Ikea is ideal, as are many department stores which still actually carry furniture onsite (some, like Sears and JC Penney, encourage shopping online and scheduling in-store pickup, so may not always have a big selection in the actual store). You should just understand that neither option typically generates furniture where the materials are of the highest-quality or workmanship. That doesn't mean they're "bad". What it tends to mean is that they often won't last for more than a few seasons.

Your high-end sets and long-term purchases of patio furniture can be found primarily with independent retailers, and can also sometimes be ordered from online warehouses. There are also parts of the country where you can find outlets (North Carolina is a big destination for all kinds of furniture, not just the outdoor variety). This is the kind of purchase that you really want to shop carefully for--check with several sources before making your decision. Depending on your needs, you can easily spend upwards of $5000-6000.00 (that's not a typo, really!), so you definitely want to be prepared before you walk into a store and a salesperson zeroes in on you. 

Typically, you can find better prices on whole sets than on individual pieces--this is true for any price level of furniture. Below, we offer some general info on what to look for.

HOW TO CHOOSE

Whether you're going high-end or you're on a tight budget, there are some basics for choosing patio furniture. Your biggest review should encompass the frame of any given piece. This is the foundation on which everything else sits (literally) and, particularly if you are spending a lot, look for quality workmanship. Stay away from flimsy aluminum frames that someone slapped a couple coats of paint on--this will chip and peel quickly, and before you know it, corrosion will be all through it and it will be ready for the junk pile. Look instead for high-strength, powder-coated aluminum. This costs more, but it's worth the investment--and when taken care of, this type of furniture frame can easily last for well over a decade, if not longer. 

An alternative to powder-coated aluminum or steel is today's varieties of "rattan". It's not what it used to be either--the best looking, sturdiest rattan is now a product of the laboratory (as opposed to nature). Advances in molded polyethylene (PE) material allow for the creation of a furniture frame that looks like rattan, but isn't. It holds up under typical outdoor weathering, won't stick to you on a hot day, and the color stays original a lot longer. This material is now the rattan of choice when it comes to producing high-end outdoor patio furniture. It's not all molded, either--the best PE rattan can still be hand-woven attached to a frame and it looks fabulous! Depending on the maker, it's usually lest costly than powder-coated frames, but that's not always true. Still, you can be sure this type of material is in it for the long haul.

If "price" was the sole arbiter of "good vs. not-so-good", you may sometimes be disappointed with the quality of some of the cushions being turned out for "luxury patio furniture", after the maker impressed the heck out of you with that high-end lifetime warranty and workmanship of the frame. And we're talking about the original cushions which ship with the units, not replacement cushions custom-made for luxury furniture. We've heard that more than once, too, particularly from customers who have us replace their worn cushions with ones we customize for them. We heartily recommend (and use) high-density foam padding and superior outdoor fabrics made to resist fading and stains, such as olefin or Sunbrella® outdoor fabric (would we lie to you? We have what seems like an entire rainbow's worth of colors in these types of fabric, stuffed to the max with high-density padding!)

Choosing luxury outdoor patio furniture doesn't have to mean choosing between beauty and brawn. With just a little upfront attention to details like the frame, rattan, and cushions, you can have it all – for years to come. Want to know more about luxury outdoor furniture that lasts? Check us out next time--we'll review some top brands for you.