All Decked Out
Good design doesn’t end at the front door. Before you spend another summer staring at the same green plastic garden chairs you’ve stared at for the past three summers, why not treat the back porch more like the living room?
Whether you want to recapture that weekend trip to Kennebunkport with classic teak or add a splash of postmodern color to the roof deck, good-looking seating adds stylish flair to any outdoor space, sprawling or intimate.
Good design doesn’t end at the front door. Before you spend another summer staring at the same green plastic garden chairs you’ve stared at for the past three summers, why not treat your back porch like you do your living room?
Whether you want to recapture that weekend trip to Kennebunkport with classic teak or add a splash of postmodern color to the roof deck, good-looking seating adds stylish flair to any sprawling or intimate outdoor space.
Even during summer showers, Jasper Morrison’s stackable Air-Chair ($100) from Sedia (535 Albany St., 617-451-2474, www.sedia.com) is pretty and practical. These sleek seats are durable enough for outdoor use, but can also be handsome additions to any indoor affair. “Being that they’re stackable, they’re convenient for storage,” says Dan Weldon, Sedia’s manager, but are more visually appealing than folding chairs. “These chairs can be used as extra seating inside for someone who wants a more contemporary look.” The child-friendly seats (spills wipe up easily) come in sunny South Beach shades, including aqua, seafoam and hot pink. “A lot of people use them for small South End patios and roof decks,” says Weldon.
If you’re looking for classic outdoor seating with a modern twist, Sedia carries Italy’s answer answer to dining alfresco. The Pamplona side chair ($365), a familiar fixture at European bistros, comes in black and translucent, as well as red, blue and yellow. Each chair can withstand raindrops and accidents, like an overturned iced coffee. “They’re also good for outdoor use,” says Weldon, “because aluminum doesn’t rust.”
Wicker is experiencing yet another renaissance. Popular among Victorians, and later earning favor in the 1960s and ’70s thanks to its likability both in the living room and on the lanai, these days wicker and wicker substitutes withstand rigor in style. Gloster’s Plantation Swivel Rocker ($645, by special order) at Seasons Four (1265 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington 781-861-1200, www.seasons-four.com) is both weather- and UV-resistant. Made of teak, the rocker looks like its rattan and cane cousins, and requires minimal maintenance.
Add a splash of color to your rocker at www.gloster.com, where you can choose from more than a dozen cushion fabric styles, from traditional forest green to mod stripes, leaf patterns, pastel florals and Asian accents. You can also pick up custom-designed cushions from many local upholstery shops.
Can’t get enough teak? Seasons Four’s RockWood garden furniture ages to shabby-chic perfection. Consider a bench as an accent piece or Seasons Four’s chic off-white cushioned club and lounge chairs.
AN ARTIST’S TOUCH
Even fine art can have a practical side. At his studio in New Hampshire, L. P. Runyon considers himself a sculptor who makes furniture. L. P. and his wife, Jennifer, founded Runyon Company (1283 Main St., Dublin, New Hampshire, 877-603-2500, www.runyonco.com) as a way to sell trellises, she says, inspired by modern, abstract sculpture. The trellises soon expanded into a line of steel furniture.
Runyon’s custom benches and chairs include the Cooper Chair ($450 without arms, $550 with arms), a gunmetal slat seat handmade from mild steel and powder-coated to resist rust. “The chairs can be left outside year-round,” says Jennifer. Or, like Runyon’s Cooper Bench ($800), it can be used indoors in a mudroom or entryway.
New from Runyon this summer is the steel Fisher patio set ($1,800 for 36-inch table and four chairs; $2,000 for 42-inch table with four chairs). “The chairs are lighter,” says Jennifer. “There’s nothing under the glass. It looks like anything placed on the table is floating.”
You don’t have to travel all the way to Bilbao—or Kendall Square—this summer to experience Frank Gehry’s creativity. His Easy Chair ($700) can be found at Design Within Reach (519 Tremont St., 617-451-7801, 1030 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-576-3690, www.dwr.com).
Gehry’s silver molded chairs are more like sculptures than furniture. The smooth surfaces are UV-protected and weatherproof, whether you want to pull them into a friendly circle at a summer barbeque or display them year-round.
Design Within Reach also carries Philippe Starck’s Bubble Club Armchair ($545). The chunky, lightweight Chesterfield is weatherproof and comes in terra-cotta, white and yellow. For larger gatherings, Starck’s Bubble Club Sofa ($790) is the outdoor answer for even the most die-hard couch potato.
There’s nothing reserved about Archie McIntyre’s outdoor furniture. “I paint to order,” says McIntyre, owner of Archie’s Island Furniture (48 Everett Ave., Winchester, 781-756-1100, www.archies island.com). With bold colors like honeysuckle, periwinkle and surf blue, his retro-inspired round- and fan-back Adirondacks add a whimsical touch to garden parties.
Inspired by the furniture he remembers from vacations to the Thousand Islands, McIntyre, a former dot-com flunky, began making chairs from a Malaysian hardwood called merpaugh, and finishing them with the same paint used on boats in almost 30 colors. “I started with the round-back,” he says, “and then added love seats and a butterfly chair. Dining sets were added last year.”
From his Woburn studio, McIntyre paints furniture in hardy Mesa, Caribbean and coastal colors.
“On the Cape, the chairs can be right on the water,” he says. “They’re very durable against wet salt air in New England.” He sells his furniture through Cape Leisure (Route 28, Cotuit Landing, Marstons Mills, 508-428-1175, www.capeleisure.com) and Seasons Four (1265 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington, 781-861-1200, www.seasons-four.com).