Summertime Furniture

Is it just me, or has the official start of summer lost a bit of its magic?

Here in Seattle, our typical grey springtime skies were cornflower blue and devoid of clouds starting in April (but don’t tell anyone – we don’t want to ruin our street cred). Storefronts were opened, patio furniture uncovered, and planters blooming earlier than most of us are accustomed. We’re not the only ones – record-setting temperatures hastened summer’s return this year throughout much of the US. By the time June 21st arrived, summer weather was already taken for granted.

Here is my solution for the early summertime complacence – new visions of old classics for outdoor dining, poolside lounging, guest rooms, backyard decks, and park plazas, all designed to put a smile on our faces, invite us to gather, and remind us of the joy of summer.

The Picnic Table

Marina Picnic Table by Janus et Cie

Picnics are quintessential summer events. The Marina Picnic Table by Janus et Cie modernizes the humble picnic table and dresses it up for more than just outings to the park. Made of powder-coated galvanized steel with fiberglass tabletop slats, this durable version is appropriate for public outdoor dining areas as well as refined backyard dinner parties.

The standard model comes with a bench on both sides, but for a whimsical variation, remove a length of bench and pair the table with white versions of Blu Dot’s airy Hot Mesh Side Chair,or Harbour Outdoor’s preppy LCA Dining Chair below.

The Beach Chair

LCA Chair by Harbour Outdoor

Maybe it’s the whiff of a Hollywood director’s chair that reminds me of the beaches of Southern California, or materials and finishes reminiscent of those found on a sailboat that whisk me off to the Hamptons. Whatever the reason, the LCA chair evokes a breezy seaside location, happy conversation and gimlets in hand. Simultaneously elegant, sporty, and relaxed, the LCA’s color and material options give the chair multiple distinct personalities, making it a versatile outdoor piece that’s comfortable in almost any location.

The Wicker Chair

Black Lace Collection by Seasonal Living

Wicker is a venerable material, used by ancient Egyptians and Romans for practical purposes long before it became popular for durable backyard furniture in the mid-1800’s. So why the lack of design respect in recent years?

Seasonal Living’s Black Lace Collection proves that wicker can be exquisite. With a steel frame intricately wrapped in high density polyurethane strands, it’s strong enough for the outdoors, but delicate enough to be used inside. It instantly elevates any outdoor space – a phrase not often heard when talking about wicker furniture of past decades.

The Chaise Lounge

Walter Lamb Chaise by Design Within Reach

I’ll concede this isn’t a reinvention as much as a classic. The Walter Chaise by Design Within Reach exudes a languid elegance, but its materials come from surprisingly humble origins: the first prototype was built using salvaged metal tubing from sunken ships in Pearl Harbor.

The Barstool

Hot Mesh Barstool by Blu Dot

Blu Dot is known for its fresh, fun, and affordable take on modern furniture. Their Hot Mesh Barstool consists of a simple form, delicate geometric patterns, and a bright color palette that works fantastically in hospitality spaces. But it’s been used in cheeky residential spaces too, including rooftop decks and children’s rooms.

The Garden Bench

Gardenias Bench by BD Barcelona Design

At first glance, the Gardenias Bench looks like a hidden treasure Mary Lennox would have found in her secret garden, lost among vines blanketing its curled arms and legs. It’s this vintage feel that intrigues me about Gardenias Collection from BD Barcelona Design – after looking again, it’s clear Gardenias is thoroughly modern, perfect for spaces seeking to balance between the (seemingly) old and new.

The Umbrella

Shadylace Parasol by Droog

That perfect mix of dappled sunlight and cooling shade can be difficult to achieve in urban environments where large vegetation is difficult to come by. The Shadylace Parasol by Droog recreates the same effect with its delicate lace-like canopy. But with polyester fabric and aluminum frame, this stout umbrella, a vision of lady-like strolls in the park, is built to hold up to the elements.

The Bike Rack

MultipliCITY Bike Rack by LandscapeForms

Consider MultipliCITY a piece of furniture for your bicycle. Fabricated from a single cast of aluminum, the form is robust while evoking the graceful structure of a bicycle frame. A wood shelf nestled on the top at hip-height is a genius bit of functionality for anyone who has tried to juggle smaller items while locking up their bike. And with a plethora of powder coatings to choose from, MultipliCITY becomes a joyful art piece along any sidewalk.

The Fort for Grownups

Kettal Cottage by Kettal

I’ll never be too old for an outdoor fort. The Kettal Cottage may be more refined than the forts of my childhood, but it achieves the same attitude. The details are lovely: small shelves for books and personal items, a wrapping of wood slats spaced just so, adjustable back supports, and fabric curtains that turn the open-air fort into a cozy three-sided tent.

Have you specified or installed any of these pieces in your projects? If so, tell us about your experience and if you’d recommend the product to others!