OUR FAVORITE VINTAGE PATIO FURNITURE MAKERS
When you consider that the Mid 20th Century gave rise to the bikini, the Mai Tai, and the cat’s eye shade it’s no wonder that vintage patio furniture followed suit! Colorful, architectural, and endlessly fun, vintage patio furniture is the easiest way to get a party kicking, short of one very strong cocktail, of course…
Yet nailing down a specific style of used patio furniture can be tough—like a-day-in-the-sun-without-SPF tough. From spun fiberglass chaises to wrought iron tables of the non-powder-coated variety, navigating the word of secondhand patio furniture materials warrants an encyclopedia all its own. And then there’s style, are you partial to enchanted garden party teas or Malibu Barbie beach bashes? Neither warrants exactly the same type of vintage patio furniture.
To help, we’ve broken down a number of our favorite vintage patio furniture designers. Read all about their signature styles, along with care tips for their favored materials. All you need add is planters and a pool!
Imagine a Beverly Hills socialite dipping toe in Mid-Century Modern aestheticism and you have vintage Brown Jordan patio furniture. Founded in 1945 in sun-dappled, chaparral-dotted Pasadena, California, Brown Jordan made a name for itself creating elegant poolside patio furniture with an atomic bent. It’s the kind of furniture you can envision Marilyn sprawling on—legs in the air, coke bottle in hand.
Among their signature pieces, look for Tamiami, an aluminum frame chair trellised with vinyl straps. The chair’s theatrical design is reminiscent of Chinoiserie, and originally came in eleven colors “du jour.” The Kantan chair is similarly strappy, but features a hunker-down club chair silhouette and straps secured in a straight up-and-down checkerboard design rather than a diagonal trellis. Those with a more traditional disposition needn’t be detoured either, as vintage Brown Jordan patio furniture also includes the “Day Lily” or “Elegance” lines. These lines showcase chairs, ottomans, and tables with elaborately scrolled aprons inspired by 18th Century French grandeur.
Caring for Vintage Metal Patio Furniture
While most patio furniture is coated with a durable powder finish, it will begin to wear off at some point, requiring that measures be taken. Begin by cleaning your metal furniture with a soap and water solution. Do the same for vinyl. Allow it to dry and then use sandpaper to remove areas where the metal varnish may be loosening or bubbling.
Balancing structural integrity with whimsicality like a pro, Arthur Umanoff pieces are artful yet simplistic examples of Mid-Century Modern patio décor. Using wrought iron as a universal prefix, Umanoff mixed in materials like rattan, wood, and leather. The result is furniture that feels like a language all its own, full of visual catch phrases like wooden slats, iron trellis backs, and wicker wedge seats.
While its mood in undeniably sunny, Arthur Umanoff pieces are refined pieces you can envision indoors just as much as out. As if exclusively designed for the terrarium-like spaces of Eichler homes (which began cropping up in suburbs post-World War II), Arthur Umanoff furniture includes a myriad of options like dining sets, bar carts, bar stools, and even wine racks. Use a series of mix-and-match pieces to craft a backyard pad that inspires weekly summer block parties and barbeque bashes with all the fixings—by which we mean, lots of potato salad.
Caring for Vintage Rattan Patio Furniture
Arthur Umanoff loved wood and wicker, the latter of which can dry out and crack. Among the biggest threats to wicker are sunlight, chlorine, and salt water. To remedy, use a vacuum with a dust attachment and then use a garden hose to spray it down. Do note that this can weaken wicker glue joints, though. Lastly, apply a paste wax to keep wicker shiny and water resistant.
If Woodard patio furniture strikes you as particularly sweet, it should—the first piece they ever designed was an ice cream parlor chair! Since then, Woodard Furniture Co. has been ever-evolving, minting their reputation with a series of landmark designs. Among them? Bold, pedestal-based loungers constructed of delicately spun fiberglass, aluminum Deco-style swivel chairs, and the voluptuous, mesh-molded Sculptra chair. If they sound delightfully uncommitted to any single style, it’s because they are.
While their fiberglass loungers speak to boho ease, the Sculptra chair features a cool, biomorphic shape that mimics a handkerchief catching air. The perfect hybrid blend of Mid-Century kitsch and sleek modernism, the Sculptra punctuates sparse landscapes like a kind of new-age topiary. Opt for bold colors like red and orange to really up the ante.
Caring for Vintage Aluminum Patio Furniture
Clean aluminum furniture (Deco-inspired or otherwise) with a solution of soap and water. Once dry, apply a coat of auto wax yearly to protect from UV rays.