4 WAYS TO STYLE RUSTIC PATIO AND GARDEN FURNITURE
Crave a patio that packs personality? How about a courtyard that courts your guests’ creative sides? Hulking outdoor sectionals may be all the rage, but they hardly transform your backyard into a personalized oasis. In cases where customization is key, rustic patio and garden furniture may be the answer to all of your unique-to-you al fresco daydreams.
When it comes to what constitutes rustic patio tables and chairs, there are few parameters. Virtually every style can get in on the action, so long as the pieces’ finishes stray from being hemmed-in by descriptors like newly-minted-looking, unmarred, or buffed-to-a-shine. Rustic doesn’t have to mean rusty, of course, but then again, it can too…. In general, rustic patio sets embrace an aged aesthetic. Be that crumbly, eroded, oxidized, or sun-bleached is entirely up to you!
For those who question why rustic outdoor patio furniture is in demand, consider this: if you can’t outwit aging, why not embrace it? Exposure to the natural elements fast-forwards outdoor garden furniture aging exponentially. Rather than try to stay astride upkeep, many have opted to adopt a less-than-perfect aesthetic to nullify the need for bi-yearly (or yearly) makeovers.
Contrary to what you might think, there’s likely an avenue to spinning it in a rustic direction, no matter your outdoor style. To get your wheels turning, here are four ways to interpret rustic patio furniture, from a romantic European villa vibe to a tumbled-down coastal cottage aura.
The vintage villa takes its cues from those tucked-away European hideaways backdropped by crumbling plaster walls and trellises latticed in verdant vines. To get the look, start with a rustic iron bistro table paired up with a set of rustic iron chairs. Choose a style of table that best suits your entertaining style. Opt for long, galvanized folding tables if you like to host a crowd, or a simple bistro table for two if your hosting habits skew more reclusive. Ground the look with simple pea gravel or another small, crushed stone. Keep in mind that smaller stones will feel more in scale with delicate rustic patio sets. Finally, add ballast with classic fluted urns. Topiaries and olive trees evoke Tuscany, while boxwood can lend a polished Parisian feel. Key among the things to love about this look is that rustic bistro tables’ dainty proportions mean that even the most postage-stamp-sized of backyards can get in on the action.
A rotation of sun, fog, salt spray, and wind dictates that outdoor furniture stationed near the ocean never stays fresh-looking for long. While some materials like vinyl and wicker tend to snap, crack, and fade under the pressure, other materials like wood only become enhanced by the wear. Use these sun-bleached, wind-worn specimens as inspiration for your coastal cottage-inspired set-up. As opposed to radiant, freshly-milled cedar furniture, aim for rustic patio benches, tables and chairs that skew more silver-gray than golden—driftwood is a good indicator of the color you’re after. Additionally, keep an eye out for roomy silhouettes like rustic outdoor daybeds—anything that encourages frittering away the afternoon in sun-baked bliss is ideal. When it comes to landscaping, your plants don’t need to be overly luscious. Take your cues from the coastal dunes and their sparse shrubbery. A mix of ornamental grasses tucked into planters or between stepping stones should be plenty sufficient.
Adirondack style is often summed up by a single seat: the Adirondack chair. While there’s no denying its appeal—not to mention its campfire compatibility—there are plenty of other rustic patio chairs and tables that fall into the lodge-friendly category. To cue up a look that’s more camp-chic than outright campy, procure an eclectic mix of rustic outdoor tables, chairs, and benches. More often than not, rustic patio furniture with a lodge bent tends to fall into the statement category—think antler chairs, patio sets woven from willow, and teak root benches. To keep things looking cohesive, decide what statement piece speaks to you the most and balance it with a series of more refined-looking pieces. You might also consider a rift on the token Adirondack chair. Look for versions that almost look like a cross between an Adirondack and a Jeanneret chair, with a slightly hiked seat and sawhorse arms. Their modern silhouette makes them easier to mix and match with other rustic patio furniture.
If you’ve ever road-tripped through tiny desert towns and stumbled across yards that look more like installation art venues than traditional patio spaces, you know the retro perfecto look. True, rusted shell back patio chairs and paint-flaking bistro sets aren’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to channel your inner artist, the results can wind up being unexpectedly magical. The key to pulling off this left-of-center look? Let whimsy take the wheel. Start with a base composed of a rustic metal table and metal chairs, lay down a rocky base (a crushed shell and polished glass mix is upcycled perfection in this scenario) and let the look evolve from there. Succulents can lend some greenery, while maintaining the sculptural appeal, as can colorful annuals like Icelandic poppies or foxglove. In addition to adding in rustic metal benches and rustic iron patio decor, try sprinkling in some retro relics like gazing balls, popular in the Mid-Century, or decommissioned metal advertising signs.
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