Trend Watch – 2010 Outdoor Furniture



Improvements in Outdoor Living Spaces Offer Big Payback for 2010

As if week after week of dour economic reports were not gloomy enough, Americans were socked with record-setting cold temperatures and record snowfall throughout much of the United States this winter. But weather forecasters and economists alike see brighter days ahead.
After hunkering down for months, it's time to loosen our grip on our wool coats and electric blankets – as well as on our wallets! Manufacturers of outdoor furnishings have created exciting new looks for this season with a focus on dazzling color to brighten our moods, plush comfort to ease our tension and increased value to minimize impact on the pocketbook.

"Small improvements can have a big impact on outdoor spaces," comments Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance, "and that's just the kind of psychologically rewarding purchase many of us are ready to make."

Color. Nothing brightens a porch or patio faster than a splash of color, and red is one of the hues the outdoor industry plans to splash around the most this year. Look for accents of red in cushions, umbrellas and even outdoor rugs within nautical-themed outdoor collections. From cherry blossoms to poppies, red will stand dramatically alone in floral accent cushions. In stripes it pops when paired with sister shades of orange, from sunset to cayenne. Whether in these combinations or as a solid background, red exudes cheerfulness and warmth.

Calming shades of nature, including leaf green, sunshine yellow and watery blue, will also offer refreshing splashes of color for outdoor spaces this season. Following fashion cues, yellow is often paired with grey in shades ranging from stone to charcoal.

The season's most vivid fabrics provide a dramatic contrast to new "bright white" frames that are adding a contemporary twist to outdoor spaces for 2010.

Comfort. Plush cushioning is more affordable than ever, and manufacturers continue taking specially-engineered outdoor foam to new heights – and depths. From deep club chairs to generously scaled chaise lounges to sumptuous daybeds, homeowners seeking sanctuary in their outdoor spaces will find the furnishings they need this year.

Motion is an increasingly popular option that adds to the comfort quotient in new outdoor designs. Recliners are moving fast to dominate the shaded spaces just as loungers dominate the sunny spaces. One company has even added a massage feature for two of its lounge chairs. They operate on a weather-resistant battery that recharges in a solar panel side table.

Value. In all price points, in all styles, in all types of outdoor materials, the design details are exceedingly important for the 2010 season, because manufacturers know they need to offer something extraordinary to lure consumers back into stores.

In the metal category, consumers will find gracefully curved stainless steel and artfully crafted wrought iron with elegant embellishments. These are complimented by detailed upholstery applications that include rope trim and fringed pillows along with lush outdoor throws.

In wood outdoor furnishings, the options range from clear finishes designed to showcase the beauty of natural wood to seriously smooth, high gloss, marine-grade paints intended to impress. And in the woven category, manufacturers continue to expand their capabilities for transforming synthetic resin into extrusions that look and feel like natural materials, including willow, banana leaf and even birch twigs. The result is an array of new collections in both detailed and delicate patterns – but with unprecedented durability. These are the design details and technological advances that steal the show for 2010.

"I truly believe that Summer 2010 is the perfect time for making a quality investment in new outdoor furnishings," concludes Hirschhaut. "The selection of stylish, functional and affordable pieces is tremendous, with designs for a complete range of spaces at very reasonable prices."