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Enjoy your terrace! How to choose outdoor furniture

Two professionals tell where, how, and garden furniture to enjoy outdoor lunches and dinners.

If you have a patio, a large terrace, or garden, take advantage of the excellent weather to expand your home with a comfortable outdoor dining area. From its location to its capacity, there are many factors to consider before buying garden furniture through lighting or sun protection. Two experts on the subject provide keys to creating a comfortable and durable space.

1. Where do I place the terrace dining room?

According to Nerea Molina, creative director of the furniture firm Kavehome, we should ask ourselves: what are we going to do with the space? Is it going to be a social or intimate place? Will we prioritize the views or the comfort of use? "In a dining room for many diners, probably the most important thing is the location and access to the interior -ideally, it should be close to the kitchen as well as being a cool and sheltered area in case the after-dinner conversation takes longer," says Molina.

On the contrary, if you are looking for a dining room in the garden or a more intimate patio, for two, "the proximity to the interior becomes a secondary factor, and the environment takes on special relevance: a corner in the shade of a tree, or surrounded by flowers, or aromatic plants helps to create an idyllic and relaxed atmosphere," he continues.

"Although sometimes the space is very well defined, especially in not very large terraces, if this is not the case, we must study well all the options taking into account aspects such as sun orientation, protection from wind and other inclemencies, how we will illuminate the space at night, what views we will have from inside the house, etc.," says Jaume Benavente, showroom manager of Arborètum.

2. Should garden or terrace furniture always is covered?

It is not indispensable, although it is advisable. "The main advantage of being covered is that we can use all kinds of materials. For uncovered spaces, we will have to select the furniture more carefully," says Benavente.

That said, there are many ways to generate shade. "Having variable elements that can be removed or moved depending on the time of day or time of year is always a good idea," says Molina. Screens, parasols, sails, or awnings, because of the great flexibility they offer, are other exciting options, according to this professional. "Having a coffee on the terrace in the morning is much more appealing without a cover since the temperature is moderate and exposure to the sun is short. But for a meal in August, a minimum of shade is essential," she says.

3. What should be the basic garden furniture?

A set of tables and chairs for the garden or terrace is the most common starting point for any outdoor dining area, whatever its characteristics and dimensions. But, as Benavente points out, "there is also the possibility of using a set of sofas on the terrace, as some manufacturers sell low tables for sofas that are slightly higher than normal for this purpose. In this way, in a single space, we will have a relaxation area and a dining area".

4. What characteristics should the terrace furniture have?

"It is essential to have materials that are treated to withstand UV rays and moisture," Molina says.

Benavente summarizes the most common materials in outdoor furniture: "There are mainly three types of structures; aluminum, stainless steel, and wood, combined with glass, laminate, ceramic, stone or wood tops. In addition, he clarifies that before deciding on one or another combination, "it is convenient to take into account that it is not the same to place an outdoor dining room on the seafront -with the corrosion caused by saltpeter, for example- than in a house in the mountains, due to the environmental differences."

5. What materials are the most appropriate for terrace furniture?

Wood. The main argument for using wooden furniture on the terrace is its warmth. However, it should be borne in mind that not all varieties are suitable for outdoor use and that any of them require periodic maintenance.

"Wood such as teak, acacia, or eucalyptus are decorative, comfortable, and suitable for outdoors," says Molina, who suggests combining them with aluminum - another of the most commonly used outdoor materials - to give a fresher and more modern touch to the whole. Molina recommends choosing chairs for the terrace in braided rope to accentuate the contrast because "they are original and blend in with any environment."

Metal. Lightweight and resistant, aluminum is another recommended material for outdoor dining furniture, especially "for its modern aesthetics and relatively low price," says Benavente.

Plastic. Inexpensive, often stackable, and easy to clean, resin furniture has gained ground thanks to innovative designs and new manufacturing techniques. Despite this, "they lose color easily when exposed to the sun and accumulate more heat and humidity than other materials," according to Molina.

6. What are the essential complements for the terrace at home?

"Waitresses, a support shelf, or some auxiliary furniture -especially if the table is not very big- are basic complements," says Nerea Molina. She also considers it essential to have different types of plants, planters, vertical gardens, or spice gardens "because they make our dining area a fresh and pleasant experience."

7. What lighting and ambiance are appropriate on the terrace?

"The usual thing is to illuminate this area with a floor light. On terraces: also with wall lights," says Jaume Benavente. Nerea Molina suggests looking for alternatives to the typical indoor lamps, such as "giant balls of light, lanterns, torches, mobile lamps, strips of hanging garlands... They provide the necessary point of light while creating a pleasant atmosphere". In any case, it is essential to consider that the chosen luminaires have the protection indexes and materials suitable for outdoors. In addition, remember that "there is a new generation of more versatile lamps that incorporate USB rechargeable batteries and are water-resistant."

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