The garden is no longer a large expanse of greenery. It’s an outdoor room that needs thoughtful furnishing like the rest of the house, including rooms that can withstand the humid Irish climate. For the past decade, the weatherproof solution was pu rattan, a woven plastic that could take some seasonal tweaking but was only available in two color options, light gray and dark charcoal. With Scandinavian styles in vogue, homeowners are now looking for something more natural.
Karl Barnes of Formality at The Cowshed in Glasthule, Co Dublin, noted a return to teak, a classic exterior wood. “On the outside, the rattan has become a bit tired and a bit too plastic,” he says. Teak is also more durable. He says you should be 20-25 with good quality teak furniture.
He tested many of the Ethimo parts he stores by leaving them outside at the vacation home he owned in Newport, Co Mayo on the Wild Atlantic Way. “I left them outside all year and they survived the rigors of the West Coast.” That’s an impressive endorsement, because salty air is tough on everything.
Caragh Nurseries is also investing in teak following customer feedback. Its own house brand, Finn & Elder, is made from solid teak sourced from Indonesia. “It creates a layer of oils to protect itself, which silvers well over time,” says Jo McGarry, marketing manager. She also tested the range, leaving it through the winter. Although happy to report that she survived the humidity, it’s still not something she recommends. It also needs to be oiled every year to maintain it. These primarily dining and living room sets, with six cushion color options, made from Sunbrella’s waterproof fabric, cost between $3,500 and $7,000.
Color is important and bright colors work very well in Irish exteriors. Pieces sells a wide range of affordable items from its Prussia Street store in Dublin and its Arnotts concession. His Net chair, €105 a piece, comes in a warm mustard yellow or soothing sage green — shades that will work on decks and patios. They are made of fiberglass resin and can be left outside all year round and are also stackable.
Improvised in the open air
Investing in beautiful garden furniture is not cheap. Savvy buyers are starting to wonder: if the pieces are only going to be used occasionally, doesn’t it make more sense to buy furniture that can be used both indoors and outdoors? Pieces of cane, polypropylene, aluminum and fresh teak will do both.
Verner Panton’s sexy S-shaped Panton Chair, first designed in 1959 but developed for mass production by Vitra in 1967, is a home decor favourite. is available in seven color options, some of which may fade slightly if exposed to strong sunlight. The white option will brighten up the most dreary terrace and costs from €319 per chair on Vitra’s website.
The Murtoli sofa by Ligne Roset by Christian Werner is a large day bed, 240cm x 120cm, capable of a double function. It’s upholstered in a water-repellent cover with a matte black aluminum base and fiberglass slats and includes upright cushions that you can position in a variety of ways to create a more formal lounge or seating arrangement. Prices start from €5,658 to order from Arena.
When you want to invite friends over for drinks on deck, a very simple and affordable option is a powder coated steel folding tray table – perfect for bringing drinks from A to B. It’s £44 at The Blue Door . formalityonline.com; caraghnurseries.com; thebluedoordirect.com; arenakitchens.com; pieces.ie
Teak is trendy
Finn & Elder Dunmore, Caragh Nurseries’ own brand, is a sofa, two armchairs, an ottoman and a coffee table, and comes with a gently curved back and armrests and costs €5,200; while the reclining arm move from St Ives, also a sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table, costs €4,800.
The very high-end Nodi, by Ethimo, uses synthetic fabrics but these are interwoven with hemp to give them a soft and natural touch. The huge sofa pictured will cost from £23,000 from Formality at the Cowshed.
Multifunctional designer pieces
While many mid-century classics now come in an outdoor version, Verner Panton’s Panton Chair might be the best option, one that will work indoors and outdoors and is incredibly comfortable to sit on. From €319 from Vitra.
The Scarpo chair from Ikea (€50) is a sizable seat that can handle whatever the Irish climate throws at it. It’s made of polypropylene, 20% of which is recycled, and its angled shape looks quite sculptural in a garden, even when you’re looking at it in the rain. It is stackable and available in white or beige and with a drainage hole to drain excess water.
The welded aluminum frame of the Kobo lounge chair by Manutti is made entirely of hand-woven rope with a deep padded top. It comes in anthracite gray or pepper black and costs €7,180 to order from Minima Home. The sculptural Tsuki side table, in teak, is available in two sizes from €1,400.
Al fresco dining
The Danish chain JYSK sells a beautiful teak table, Versterhavet, which is only 90 cm wide and extends up to 210 cm. It costs €699. Pictured in a natural color but made of polyethylene rattan, a plastic look. The powder coated steel frame dining chairs cost $99 each.
The return of the picnic bench
A picnic bench is easy to set up and creates a focal point no matter how relaxed your outdoor space is or not. It also feels less formal than some other dining options. Woodies’ extra durable wooden design has flip-up seats to avoid soggy bottom syndrome. It costs €249.99. A chic picnic option, this oak table (€4,000) and matching bench (€1,580), made from recycled train carriages and aged for 20 years. The carpet under the feet costs 1,970 €. All are available to order from Roche Bobois.