Modern Outdoor Furniture + Accessories

Along with kickstarting the rise of midcentury modern design, the post-war period of the mid-1900s ushered in a new era of leisure that manifested itself notably in outdoor spaces. Once-modest backyards became convenient gathering places for friends and family; patios became outdoor dining rooms; porches became living areas. With the ascent of leisure culture and outdoor living came a new demand for well-designed patio furniture.

Midcentury modern furniture designers and architects answered the call for functional, affordable, and design-forward modern outdoor furniture, creating innovative patio furniture and accessories that were as durable as they were accessible. From this era came iconic midcentury modern furniture collections such as Richard Schultz’s 1966 Collection, Russell Woodard’s Sculptura Collection, and Harry Bertoia’s namesake collection for Knoll. For authentic pieces from these collections and others, shop patio furniture at Design Within Reach – and learn more about the qualities of modern outdoor furniture and accessories.

Outdoor Furniture Materials

As you browse furniture for dining, lounging, and entertaining, it’s important to consider the different types of outdoor furniture materials. Think about your local climate as you determine which materials are right for your al fresco space and which materials you should forgo.

Teak, acacia, and cedar are among the best types of hard wood for patio furniture, prized for their durability, natural beauty, and pest and moisture resistance. Wood outdoor furniture crafted of teak develops a beautiful silvery-grey patina over time and use. Metal patio furniture, made of stainless steel, aluminum, or wrought iron, is popular for its durability. Aluminum is the most lightweight, while wrought iron is the heaviest. Powder-coated metal is water-resistant and will last for seasons to come. Synthetic materials, including plastics or resins, are affordable, lightweight, and water-resistant. However, be sure to look for UV-resistant plastic furniture that won’t fade or crack due to sun exposure. Due to its light weight, plastic outdoor furniture should be stored away in high winds.

If you live in a damp region with excessive rain or humidity, avoid materials susceptible to mold, mildew, rust, corrosion, and warping. Powder-coated steel and teak tend to fare well in these regions. If your outdoor space receives a lot of sun, beware of materials that might fade or crack in heat or sunlight, as well as materials that can get dangerously hot due to prolonged sun exposure. For areas with extreme weather conditions, you should consider either heavy furniture that can withstand high winds, or lightweight foldable or stackable furniture that you can easily store away.

What is the best outdoor furniture material?
Your local climate will help you determine which outdoor furniture materials are the best investment, but teak, powder-coated aluminum, and plastic are smart choices.

How to clean outdoor furniture?
For most furniture pieces, a quick dusting, a thorough wipe down with a 1:3 mixture of dish soap and water, and a rinse with a garden hose will be enough to remain in good condition. More serious issues, including mold, rust, and overly weathered wood may require specialty solutions, including bleach (for mold), rust dissolver, and teak oil. For these issues, it’s best to consult the care instructions for your specific pieces. Many weather-friendly fabrics can also be wiped down or even thrown in the washing machine to mitigate stains.

Where to buy outdoor furniture?
At Design Within Reach, you can buy authentic modern outdoor furniture online.