It may be overcast and chilly by Los Angeles’ standards right now, but trust us - summer is a-comin! And that means a few things are top priority — it’s time to invest in another wide-brimmed hat for beach days, errand-running mornings, and flea and farmers’ marketing on the weekends; get yourself a damn good face sunscreen because melanoma is real, y’all (I happen to love this one, actually), and, yes, that back patio / back yard / deck / poolside situation you’ve got going on could desperately use some thoughtful love and attention.
While it’s true that us Californians can take advantage of the outdoors more often than other parts of the country and are therefore pretty intense when it comes to our outdoor spaces being lovely and livable, it can easily be argued that areas where the sunny, warm season is an ephemeral three to four months ought to take their outdoor areas even more seriously because that quarterly seasonal stretch is over before you can say “vegan hot dogs and buns on the barbecue.” Also, getting outside is good for your health, so we all should be doing it.
We’ve often had clients ask us about outdoor furniture because it seems there’s a bit of a dearth in the market for attractive outdoor pieces substantial enough to endure the elements of relentless sunlight (hi, desert), occasional precipitation (hi, desert), and regular wear and tear. When I was working with a designer in Santa Monica, whenever we’d sell vintage outdoor pieces to a client, we’d consistently recommend, with very few exceptions, that most of our vintage outdoor pieces be placed under covered patio and backyard spaces for protection from the weather. Really, I suppose once it’s yours, you can do whatever the heck you like with it, but if you want a vintage rattan Peacock chair (and we mean actual rattan, not newly-made faux rattan made from polyethylene created to tolerate extreme heat and cold) to last more than a year, you put that precious shit under a canopy, my friend.
Some tips from us Lily Spindle ladies:
Consult with (and potentially hire) a good, trustworthy landscape designer when it comes to the design and creation of your pathways and walkways, gardens, plantings, lighting, and irrigation systems. There’s an artistry to landscape design just as there is to interior design and the knowledge and guidance landscape designers can impart is inimitable. (When it comes to the furniture bits, however we’re the women to call because just as architects are brilliant at what they do, it’s likely you don’t want them choosing your sofa, dining chairs, or bathroom finishes, for that matter)
If you don’t dine al fresco on your own but do have lots of guests with kids and the like during the warmer months, choose a dining table large enough to accommodate at least 8-10 people. Benches (whether built-in or otherwise) are fantastic for this purpose because they provide ample seating for a fair amount of large and small humans and can be utilized differently when not in use at the dining table.
Consider where you’re setting up your potential lounge area. Is there blazing sun all afternoon long? It may not seem like a problem initially, but no sane adult person will want to hang out there without coverage of some kind - a well-placed umbrella or two, a beautiful pergola, or a simple sail shade fabric cover will make the space decidedly more alluring. Additionally, a gorgeous pergola is romantic, practical, and adds value to your home, to boot.
Buy native plants. We live in an urban desert, for instance, and maintaining the health and vitality of a lawn is a fruitless and gross water-wasting obsession. Research the best plants for your region and refer to tip #1 for further details and wisdom!
Your outdoor furniture should reflect the design and feel of your home’s architecture and interior, as well. I guess it goes without saying, but we’ll say it nonetheless . . . if your home is super modern and clean, a set of ornate, tall-backed wicker settees and a silver teak dining table boasting an elaborate base would be a strange departure from your aesthetic and will not look awesome. Not that we have anything against wicker settees and silver teak dining tables! They’re stunning when well-placed and complementing the vibe of the entirety of the space.
If you have a gorgeous view, you are lucky as hell and must take advantage of it.
Don’t knock the string lights. They’re the most functional, least expensive, and easiest means to getting much-needed light in your outdoor living space.
Our top 12 outdoor furniture picks (with an honorable mention tacked on for good measure) features everything from the uber affordable under $200 group to the significantly higher end “pricing upon request” pieces, including sofas, occasional chairs, and tables. Hope it inspires you to get thyself outside and enjoy these wonderful summer days and nights. (And if you’d like our help, don’t hesitate to email us and we’ll happily get you sorted!)
xx - Rebecca + Debra
1 - Malawi Chairs, $399 ; Ixtapa Loveseat, $389 ; Braided Jute Pouf, $90 ; Shroom Coffee Table, $799 - All CB2, as featured in Domino magazine’s tour of Garance Dore’s LA home
2 - Elle Relaxing Chair, $495
3 - Isola Teak + Wicker Collection; $399 - $2199
4 - Trellis Weave All-Weather Wicker 3-seater; $2498
5 - Target’s Latigo 3-piece rattan set, $299
6 - Paloma Sofa, $788
7 - Arbor Dining Table in Weathered Teak; $2436
8 - Mayo Outdoor Relaxing Chair; $399
9 - Fermob Outdoor Furniture Collection
(varying prices and pieces, designed in France)
10 - Grid Modular Sofa, $9995 - $11,995
11 - Oasis Sofa + Chaise, $2298 - $3098
12 - Tidelli’s Rope Outdoor Furniture Collection
(pricing upon request)
*Honorable mention* Gajah USA’s Seminyak Rattan Collection; $1495