Furnishing a patio: with style and the ideal furniture

Torben Schröder

Whether in a Mediterranean or modern design, wooden or polyrattan furniture – the possibilities for furnishing your patio are extremely varied and depend very much on your personal preferences. In this article, we give you ideas for designing an oasis of wellbeing right behind your house.

View of a patio in the greenery with a couch, a hanging chair and other furnishing elements.
© Getty Images / Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

In this article

Patio: determining its purpose

First of all, you should ask yourself what you want to use the patio for. Sunbathing? Then comfortable couches are important. Eating and barbecuing? In this case, the focus should be on a large dining area with plenty of seats. Knowing the purpose of the patio will later help you to choose the right style.

The location and size of the patio also play a role in planning the design: if it faces south, you can enjoy sunshine almost all day long. If it is oriented west, you can admire the sunset in the evening. If you only have a few square meters of space, you should take care not to overload the patio. If you have a lot of room, you must bear in mind that elements such as tables, chairs and plant pots may need to be moved into the house or basement in the winter. This could leave a sparse overall impression.

A little tip: if you have children, you can set up an improvised corner for them with blankets and mattresses. On the other hand, you will have to pay more attention to security: a stone floor increases the risk of injury.

Furnishing a patio: a question of style

You can give your patio a very special design with a carefully chosen combination of furniture, accessories and materials. You can obtain a particularly harmonious look by ensuring that the design matches the interior of your house. Ideas for different styles are given below.

Modern furnishings

Straight lines, large surfaces, high-quality materials and geometric shapes determine this style. The emphasis is on harmonious architecture. Moreover, the patio is only equipped with a few characteristic elements – so as not to appear overloaded. You could choose granite base plates and plain aluminum furniture, for instance. A counterpart to the somewhat cooler design is the discreet use of plants and the creation of a fireplace or a high pond.

View of a patio with three wooden storage boxes, four dark-colored chairs, a fireplace and an asymmetrical stone floor.

Clear and linear – this is what a modern-style patio looks like. A fireplace makes the atmosphere more informal.

Country house style

This style is about imitating the rustic and nostalgic coziness of a country house. The materials should be predominantly natural, the patterns floral and playful. The atmosphere is enhanced with matching decorative articles. Wooden boards or natural stone panels are good choices for flooring. When it comes to furniture, a solid wooden table can become the center of your country style patio. For decoration, use plants as well as antique-looking everyday objects such as watering cans, straw brooms and carafes.

Mediterranean ambiance

Reproducing the typical atmosphere of countries you like visiting on vacation in your own home – this is possible with a Mediterranean patio design. Warm colors and earth tones dominate, for example thanks to decorative terracotta pots. The floor consists of natural stone. Delicately curved iron furniture, wickerwork wooden chairs or armchairs made of polyrattan remind you of summer trips abroad. The generous use of Mediterranean herbs and plants like oleander and olive intensifies this feeling. A pergola provides shade while also serving as a privacy screen.

Asian furnishing style

Taking time to reflect, eliminating stress and focusing on the essentials – this is the lifestyle advocated by an Asian furnishing style. For a patio, it means using simple but high-quality materials: elements made of bamboo create an atmosphere that’s close to nature. The floor should consist of simple wooden boards or gravel. Evergreen plants like bonsais add a touch of color. Buddha figures, fountains, wind chimes and fire bowls are also suitable as accessories.

The right floor covering for your patio

Besides the furniture, the floor is another central design element of a patio. Regardless of the style chosen, each material offers different advantages. Here are a few tips for the most common floor coverings.

  • Wood: the main advantage is the warm, cozy look. In addition, walking on wood feels great underfoot. On patios it is usually laid in the form of boards or tiles. There is a huge choice of types of wood. Swiss woods such as Douglas fir, larch and oak have proven their worth for flooring. They are quite soft and should therefore be maintained with oils. Tropical woods such as teak or Bangkirai are much more robust, but also more expensive.
  • Porcelain stoneware: this particularly hard ceramic is a very fashionable patio flooring. The tiles, which are only a few centimeters high, are very resistant to damage and soiling. Another advantage is that since ceramic or porcelain stoneware is industrially produced, it can imitate other types of flooring.
  • Stone: the classic floor covering for patios. Stone is very durable, extremely weather resistant and easy to clean. You have the choice between two types of stone: natural stone or concrete stone. The extraction of natural stone takes time as well as being expensive – that’s why the price of basalt, granite or sandstone slabs is quite high. However, it will guarantee a very chic effect. Concrete patio coverings are industrially produced and are less expensive.
View of a patio with a stone floor, table and five chairs. A garden can be seen in the background.

Limestone paving as a base gives your patio a sophisticated and naturally weathered ambiance.

Choosing the ideal furniture

Unlike in a house, the furniture on a patio is exposed to the weather. You should avoid sensitive materials like leather. Tables and chairs for outdoor use must be weatherproof, durable and easy to clean. After all, you want your purchases to last for several years, not just one season. We present different materials below.

Wooden patio furniture

Be it tables, chairs, recliners or stools – wooden patio furniture looks stylish and creates a warm, cozy atmosphere. The furniture will be able to withstand the weather to different extents depending on the type of wood. Southeast Asian teak with its typical black grain is extremely robust and can be exposed to any type of weather conditions. After a few years, it takes on an attractive silver-gray patina. Softer varieties such as pine should be treated with a special product to prevent the wood from absorbing too much moisture.

As well as looking attractive, wooden furniture offers other advantages: with appropriate maintenance, it is very robust, hard-wearing and durable. If the surface begins to alter structurally and visually over time, you can give wood – in contrast to plastic – an after-treatment[P1] . Even minor repairs are easier to carry out than with other materials.

Polyrattan patio furniture

Polyrattan furniture is quite inexpensive, but extremely sturdy and attractive. This industrially produced material is intended to imitate the natural product rattan, which is extracted from the trunk of the rattan palm. Rattan is very elastic and soft and is used for wickerwork. Polyrattan, on the other hand, is made from the plastic polyethylene. Since it resembles rattan so much, polyrattan furniture radiates a Mediterranean, lounge-like atmosphere. Even without cushions, you can sit comfortably on the elastic wickerwork. Polyrattan furniture dries quickly on account of the smooth surface.

View of a patio with a rug, a table and a spacious couch.

Thanks to its weather resistance and timeless look, polyrattan is an ideal material for outdoor furniture.

Stainless-steel patio furniture

Stainless steel is a very exclusive and elegant material for patio furniture. It is visually modern and timeless and lends itself well to combinations with other materials. It also forms a charming contrast to green spaces and plants. The stainless steel used for patio furniture is mostly made of a chrome-nickel alloy. Its properties include resistance to water and humidity. Stainless-steel furniture is particularly stable, while not being too heavy. Good thermal conductivity is another advantage: stainless steel doesn’t become too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.

Conclusion: just the way you want it

Creating a patio requires more than just setting up a table and a few chairs. With a good feel for design trends and the right combination of flooring and furniture, you can transform your patio into a perfectly furnished outdoor area.

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