Outfitting an outdoor space is fraught with all manner of complication. You need to be conscious of weather patterns, how high you are (is something going to hurt passersby if it falls from your roof?) and the buildings around you. How much sun do you get? How much wind? And do rude neighbours enjoy pitching their garbage out of their windows and onto your home? And of course, how big is the space? All those elements affect what you’re putting outside. A few weeks making notes of regular patterns around you, a few minutes with a tape measure, and a few minutes contemplating your end goals and you’re good to go.
Start with the basics. Non-native Hongkongers tend to forget what works at home doesn’t always fly here. The marketplace, though, knows what’s suitable for this climate, and Everything Under the Sun Managing Director Craig Pallister suggests bearing those suitable materials in mind. In addition, “Too often people put furniture that is only designed for indoor use, outside and then it will not last,” he says, noting low quality raw materials will be replaced frequently. Designer Maayan Schwartz at The Room Studio agrees. “Watch out for wood furniture and iron or stainless steel. They are considerably less durable in the humidity,” she notes.
Another crucial factor in outfitting your outdoors that people forget is to consider where their outdoor space is. If you have a roof, heavier furniture that is less likely to blow around in typhoon winds is best. And, “Make sure that the upholstery and cushions are weather/waterproof brands like Sunbrella and similar weather proof upholstery,” adds Schwartz.
Of course space is always the issue, and some outdoor spots are as small as Juliet balconies. “Consider what you want to do in your outdoor space first. Lounge, dine or even create an outdoor garden,” states Pallister. “Then pick products that are suited and meet your functional requirements.” Whatever you do, don’t overcrowd — anything. Even with more than a balconet Schwartz cautions against too much stuff, and suggests splurging on fewer, nicer pieces: two good chairs and a collapsing table rather than forcing in four seats.
Finally, there’s trend. Whether you need your patio to be “hip” is up to you, but these days, “Outdoor living spaces have come a long way from the flimsy plastic table,” says Schwartz. “Today’s trends include looks and pieces that would not necessarily look out of place inside in a living room. Getting the right look isn’t always easy and you don’t want to look like you took the sofa from inside and placed it outside,” she says. “Sectional pieces that can be grouped together or separated, with ottomans, side tables and coffee tables are also very hot at the moment.” She recommends accessorising with LED lighting, plants that come climate-ready, and underused items like shells and large pebbles to help create mood.
For Pallister, it’s all about the retro look. “This season we are seeing the introduction of outdoor furniture styles that take us back to … the 1950s to ’70s. Chairs featuring a curved back or a bucket seat together with tables with sleek design, are offering furniture lovers something old — but new.” Materials currently popular combine stalwart favourites (teak is an outdoor staple) and modern (powdercoated aluminium or stainless steel), and alternative fabrics (sling detailing). On the colour front, contrasting light and dark shades, with linen, white, grey and dark granite used in frames and leaving room to move with tabletops, woods and upholstery. One thing both Schwartz and Pallister agree on: maintenance. “Remember that all outdoor furniture needs to be maintained and cleaned regularly, regardless of material,” no matter how weather resistant it is finishes Pallister. “Quality furniture that is well looked after can last for many years.”