Style Your Yard with Outdoor Furniture

Local experts reveal the latest trends in patio furniture

photo courtesy of bedford fields
The Rustic collection by Summer Classics. You can find Summer Classics patio furniture at Bedford Fields.

Our New Hampshire climate means Granite Staters are serious about their patio furniture since it helps us extend our outdoor season. Find out what new trends and materials let us make the most of our beautiful seasons.

New Trends

You may have a fire pit already, but have you heard of a fire table? “The last few years, gas fire tables have sold really well and are even overtaking wood fire pits,” says Alison Jackson of Jackson Fireplace & Patio in Hampton Falls. “These are like a patio table at cocktail height — round, square or rectangular — and you put a gas grill tank in the middle. Instead of having something built in, you can move it around or even put it on a deck. Some have kits that you can cook with and include Himalayan sea salt blocks and a wok. They really lengthen the season because they give off heat too.”

Other new developments include expanded color selections and height levels. “A lot of people are interested in the Sunbrella material umbrellas and furniture. That’s the biggest thing. We used to have three or four colors to choose from, now they have 20,” says Brad Bemister of Bemister’s Pool & Patio in Salem. “Dining height and bar height used to be the only size chairs. Now, companies offer that height furniture to put around the fire pit and balcony height to see over a deck railing. Manufacturers are also coming out with hidden motion, or built-in rockers, as well.”

Low-maintenance Materials

Customers are definitely choosing all-natural or recycled materials because they are low-maintenance. “Our biggest sellers are Adirondack chairs and dining sets made from recycled plastic bottles from a manufacturer in Rhode Island called Seaside Casual,” says Jackson. “Because of where we are, being right on the water, and with our New Hampshire winters, the recycled materials are popular because they are low-maintenance.”

Donna Soulard from Bedford Fields in Bedford agrees: “I am noticing customers are looking at the Polywood furniture that has a 20-year warranty, and they are made from recycled milk cartons. As far as the colors, it is all about that rustic, weathered gray. Most of the furniture we carry is from Summer Classics, and they are made from that. People are looking for Adirondack chairs or comfy lounge chairs that you can put around a fire pit.”

Bemister adds that since the polymers are getting more expensive, it makes teak more attractive since you can get it for the same price. “A lot people are turning to teak furniture because they want to try to stay all-natural. Our teak sales keep going up. And teak furniture has the mesh slings in them, which are replaceable so they last a lot longer.”

Move Towards Quality

Retailers are noticing a big trend in customers who want quality and are willing to pay more for furniture that lasts from companies that are reputable. “People definitely want it to be an investment, to last longer, and they ask about warranty. It has to be backed up by a good company,” says Jackson. “Seaside Casual has a 20-year warranty on manufacture defect. For non-defects, the parts are replaceable. Replacing a slat is so easy and will make them last.” She also adds that people want things made here in America. “If we have something that is super-durable, has a good reputation and made in the USA, then it’s a win-win for us.”

Bemister agrees: “We like to use companies like Telescope, which is an American-made outdoor furniture company that has been around since 1903. Most of their furniture is all American-made, all aluminum with 15-year warranty. And if you need to replace a fusion or sling or foot, everything is available. The furniture is a little more expensive, but it lasts 20 years or more because of all the replacements that are available.”

Both Bemister and Soulard agree that the wicker furniture they sell is a much higher quality than in the past. “People want three-season porch synthetic wicker that can stay right outside. It’s maintenance-free. They don’t yellow or turn color in the sun. In some of the cheaper wickers, the browns turn to gray and the white turns to yellow. I don’t bring in the cheap synthetics because it is more hassle.” Adds Soulard, “N-dura is what we sell, and it is fade-resistant for five years. It is not like the old ones — it’s solid through and through. There is no string in it, and they are made to be more durable as well.”

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