After a winter huddled inside the warmth of your home, spring’s imminent arrival turns your focus to your gardens, decks and patios for outdoor living. Whether relaxing over breakfast on a Sunday morning with your family or hosting a barbecue extravaganza with a group of friends, a well-planned outdoor area will provide an inviting vista. There are many varieties of outdoor furniture to suit any decorating style.

For a country look or the appearance of a relaxing tropical resort, rattan wicker furniture makes for a charming arrangement. Surround wicker furniture with big pots of tropical flowers and palms, or with clusters of pots in varying sizes filled with blooms reminiscent of an English cottage garden.

Wooden furniture is another attractive alternative that adds a casual sophistication to your patio. Most wood used in the construction of outdoor furniture is durable; some are treated with sealants to resist decay as it protects against the elements. Supplement your furniture with matching wood planter boxes strategically placed to enhance the scene with the color of flowers. Add comfort as well as brilliant hues to your neutral wood or wicker furniture with the addition of outdoor fabric cushions on all chairs and benches, as well as matching market-style umbrellas at each table. Choose either a bold solid color that will pop, or a pattern of tropical print or nautical stripes.

For recreating the scene of a French sidewalk bistro or a Tuscan villa terrace, try a set of wrought iron furniture. Wrought iron offers the beauty of elaborate scrollwork. Cast iron is molded into decorative shapes. Iron furniture is generally treated with layers of varnish, paint or a powder coating to help retard rust. Usually found in black, iron furniture is also available in white and other colors. For an antique look, opt for a Verdigris finish.

If your budget is tight this season, resin furniture may be the sensible choice. Made from a durable plastic that can withstand the elements, by choosing a neutral taupe or a hunter green and then dressing the set up with cushions and umbrellas, your patio will be dressed for success at your next outdoor respite without breaking the bank.

When selecting outdoor furniture, have a floor plan of your patio space in mind. Arrange a dining area with table and chairs, and remember to designate a spot for the grill as well as any additional pieces that will aid the barbecue chef in the preparation and cooking. Also lay out a conversation arrangement of benches, lounging chairs and end tables. Crown your conversation area with a centrally located fire pit for a glowing ambience and warmth on chilly evenings. If space allows, some furniture sets offer a garden swing or a bar with barstools in their repertoire to complete your outdoor living needs.

Embellish your outdoor furniture arrangements with statuary, beautiful flowers and lush foliage, and your new outdoor retreat will be so welcoming when you come home that you might not bother to head indoors.

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