Fashionable furnishings help turn alfresco spaces into showrooms for entertaining and relaxing.
1. The Grand Traverse collection by Lloyd Flanders has the look of classic rattan. Swivel dining chair, $869; Fireplace & Verandah, Orlando and Longwood. 2. Veneman’s Rio rattan collection features curvy lines and voluptuous silhouettes. Chair, $1,675; loveseat, $3,900; coffee table, $1,150 (MSRP); available at Robb & Stucky, Orlando and Altamonte Springs. 3. The aluminum pole and framework of the Titan freestanding umbrella are made from an anodized alloy to withstand the elements. 13-foot version with valance, $4,939; 17-foot version with valance, $5,769; tuuci.com. 4. The Brown Jordan Campaign collection boasts an eclectic mix of various furniture styles and fabrications. Grande double chaise, $9,300-$12,350 (MSRP), depending on the grade of fabric and finish selected; Apenberry’s in College Park. 5. Inspired by nature, the Leaf chaise by Lievore, Altherr, and Molina is crafted of an epoxy-coated painted frame in white, green or mocha, $2,296; optional leather pad, $552; suiteny.com. 6. Home Infatuation’s egg-shaped modular furniture pieces stack for easy storage. $2,300 each at homeinfatuation.com.
Over the last decade, many Central Florida residents have spiffed up their homes’ outdoor areas as havens for entertaining and relaxing. In response, furniture makers have stepped up their games to meet the demand for more stylish and weather-resistant pieces.
Lisa Apen, co-owner of Apenberry’s in College Park, sees a connection between outdoor furniture trends and the fashion runways of New York and Paris. “Just like in fashion,” she says, “we’re seeing a lot of people gravitating toward white and yellow.” And just as the little black dress is a fashion mainstay, notes Apen, “black, both high gloss and matte, is still my number-one seller.”
Silvery finishes, such as brushed aluminum and pewter, and bronze shades are popular options for outdoor furniture as well. Apen is also seeing an uptick in the popularity of sling furniture, which features breathable mesh fabric tightly bound to metal frames. “People don’t want cushions, but they want something softer than just metal,” she says. “So we’ve seen a little bit of a trend toward sling furniture, but with a traditional look. It’s easy to take care of in our humidity and heat.”
Matchy-matchy furniture suites are yesterday’s news, notes Apen. Instead, consumers are putting together more eclectic outdoor collections, and repurposing garden elements in unexpected ways. Stone or concrete garden benches are being used as coffee tables, for example, and garden stools are doing double-duty as end tables and extra seating. Apen cites the Brown Jordan Campaign collection and its mix of sling, woven and large-scale pieces as a good illustration of an eclectic furniture grouping within a single collection.
At Fireplace & Verandah’s Orlando and Longwood locations, company designer and salesperson Janet Medlock says that for outdoor upholstery, “green has been a very popular fabric choice for years, and now it’s making a shift to red.”
Regardless of color, brand or style, comfort should be the first priority when selecting outdoor furnishings.
“Today, people are doing entire outdoor living rooms; they’re doing TVs and outdoor fireplaces,” says Medlock. “You need something comfortable enough to sit and watch a movie in.”