These days, the porch or patio are often an extension of the house throughout the year. This means you could be thinking about that outdoor space right now, even if the fall-winter season seems a surprising time to do so. If you hold big family or friend gatherings for the holidays, you may even be planning an update to your patio furniture in preparation for the celebrations. And if you do use that sheltered outdoor space much of the year, you likely have substantial requirements.
Here’s how to choose the right furniture using an Elderyarding® approach.
- The most important criterion for ageless furniture is Scale.
No, I don’t mean how the furniture looks in the area planned for it. That’s certainly something a landscape architect or interior/exterior designer might evaluate.
What’s more important is how the furniture scales with the people using it. One modern trend for is for outdoor furniture to be oversized so it makes a substantial impact in space.
But how does it fit you?
Just like the recommendation to try a mattress before buying it, do try outdoor chairs and loveseats before selecting items just because they were featured in a design magazine. Oversized chairs can have seats that are quite deep.
If you need cushions at your back so that your knees can bend at the cushion edge and help your feet to touch the floor, the seat is too big for the scale of your body. Struggling to rise from a chair that’s too big can be awkward even when you’re athletic.
If you or a family member who is a regular visitor are aging or have a disability, even something we think of as “normal” as arthritis, rising from a too-deep chair can be painful or require assistance. This is definitely not something you want to experience at the end of time spent relaxing on the patio!
In addition to seat depth, consider the height of the seat from the ground. Comfortable height for most of us is 18 inches. And take a look at the arms of the chair, loveseat or sectional you’re evaluating.
Furniture that can outlast trends provides support for getting up and down. A seat that’s quite low, with arms that are high and rectangular, provides less leverage for the up-and-down movements used in sitting and arising.
Evaluating the personal fit of seating can be done with materials from wood, metal or concrete benches to wicker and all-weather wicker substitutes to fabric sling-type seating.
If it takes effort to use the seat when the user is able-bodied, the seat will not provide comfort and support later in life.
The second criterion is Comfort. This is provided mostly through the soft furnishings such as seat and back cushions for the furniture.
When choosing cushions, consider the filling first. Confirm that the material drains water quickly if it gets wet and is mildew proof or mildew resistant. Think about how much care will be needed long-term, as well as on a seasonal basis.
Fabrics that can take sun, rain, and even salt spray are now readily available. Colorful fabrics provide liveliness in the outdoor space and can add comfort to sitting on furniture designed to withstand weather.
Plan for maintenance. Determine whether the cushions need to be stored when not in use so the filling or fabric doesn’t deteriorate or fade. Anticipate they may need to be washed occasionally, especially if not stored or if the weather provides a rare dust or mud storm.
Plan for replacement covers at intervals of 3-5 years in case the fabric or filling becomes difficult to clean or traps pollen or dust that contribute to allergies.
Remember that even seating sold without cushions might need cushioning to be comfortable as the body loses its own padding with age. It’s a good idea to check whether loose or replacement cushions sold on their own can be fitted to the furniture you’re considering.
By considering scale and planning for comfort and maintenance, you can truly have a porch or patio that is ageless!