Imagine someone shows you pictures of two different people’s patios. They tell you that one patio was set up and decorated two years ago and the other one was done two decades ago. Do you think you could tell which patio was which?
Have faith in yourself; the answer is at least probably. Every year, new items get released and old items get embarrassing. For our fashionistas out there, the trick is to update every 12-18 months; for the rest of us, the trick is to find an arrangement that feels modern and timeless. If you can find your major pieces of modern outdoor furniture and keep them for a long time, then you can update the little things like glassware and cushion covers at your whim.
Two of the most fun trends in modern outdoor furniture are innovative shapes and innovative colors. These shapes and colors wouldn’t be so innovative if they were pictures on walls or shirts, but when outdoor furniture takes them on, you can quickly tell the difference between modern outdoor furniture and the old stuff.
If you decide to go with ultra-modern outdoor furniture, you’ll just have to remember to ask yourself, “Is this piece going to outlast future fads and fashions?” and if not, “Would I rather go for something more modest and maybe change out smaller parts or be prepared to update this piece within a couple of years?”
It’s like the world’s designers all realized, within a few years of each other, that there was no reason not to have some fun with the most basic forms that furniture usually comes in.
Instead of a wicker end table that Grandma Millie might have found at Gimbels, why not give the people a polyethylene stool that looks like it’s not done hardening? A short time ago, this stool would have had to wait for an eccentric gallerist to use it; today, you can get it online with free shipping.
One of the most appealing reasons to go for modern outdoor furniture like the above piece is that it is so interesting-looking that people will inevitably comment on it. That is, it’s a conversation starter. While not mandatory, a few built-in conversation starters can really help the landscape to support the interactions between friends and family that you’re looking for when you put together a patio for hosting.
But is it so unusual that it could be merely novel? In five years, when an old friend comes over for a drink, will they see it and think, “There’s that crazy stool! I’m glad it’s still here,” or, “Oh man, you still haven’t moved on from this?” Either thought could be about any piece. The goal is to find pieces that look natural where you’re going to put them.
Gone are the days when bright colors were just for the kids, and thank goodness. Neutral, natural colors are still the norm but in contrast to yesteryear, statement pieces are readily available, and they don’t have to make such crazy statements anymore to make sense.
This bench, for instance, in whatever color someone might choose, could pop but not destructively if it were placed next to a vibrant flower garden or among complimentary decor. And that’s what we’re after: pieces that compliment each other as opposed to pieces that necessarily match or chaotically clash.
Bright or otherwise interesting colors have a way of keeping us mentally “awake” better than shades the eye expects to see. Remarkable colors on regular old items (including walls) have even been shown to increase concentration in schools such that test scores rise. If you’re looking for something to work into your patio setup that helps people feel gladder to be there–even if they’re not consciously aware of the difference–an unexpectedly bright color here and there may be just the thing.
But again, there is certainly such a thing as too much. It’s perhaps unsurprising if a seat the color of the sun turns out to be just a bit overwhelming. That’s why we find enduring pieces that have changeable parts. If you go that route–the moderate route, in terms of color statements–you can even rotate colors based on the season.
Where seat cushions are concerned, for example, a busy floral print might look great as a cushion cover in the summer and then give way nicely to a more subdued, green solid for the fall or winter. And if you give yourself the freedom to make smaller changes like that so easily, your items always look updated and you always look like the expert on trendy, modern outdoor furniture.
What Makes Modern Outdoor Furniture so Modern?
The most important difference between modern outdoor furniture and its ancestors is innovation in shape and color. To give your patio that really modern pop, focus first on these two things.
While it used to be that interesting shapes were restricted to fashion shows and music videos, today’s modern outdoor furniture trends have begun incorporating them. Of course, it’s easy to go crazy with it and forget that all you need is someone to think, “Huh, that’s nice. I haven’t seen that before.” That’s why one must always ask oneself if a given item will be an enduring and interesting long-term addition or just a novelty.
Color is often easier to play with. It’s much less of a commitment to invest in, say, a new table cloth than a new table. Likewise, you’ll likely enjoy updating a cushion or cushion cover more than buying a whole new chair. Color is often more quickly noticeable than shape so it makes for a nice bang-for-your-buck situation.
The whole thing is an art, though, not a science. There are fewer wrong answers than you might think. Always be experimenting and more importantly, have some fun!