How to pick the best garden furniture for a changeable climate

garden table

Have you ever come back from a holiday full of ideas for sprucing up your home? That’s how I felt after we returned from our trip to Denmark last summer. One of the things I loved about our accommodation at Landal Seawest was the way that the place catered for indoor and outdoor living. Inside, our cottage was all cosy and Scandi-chic. And on the patio, as well as dotted around the resort, was some of the best garden furniture for a changeable climate.

Just like us here in the UK, Denmark experiences extremes of weather. But the Danes seemed to have a knack for laying out garden furniture sets that made the most of their outdoor spaces. So, since coming home, I’ve been looking into ways to give our own garden a once-over. Top of my to-do list is investing in a decent set of outdoor furniture. A garden table and chairs that can cope with a summer of occasional drizzles and downpours. But which will be lovely when the sun shines.

Here are the tips I’ve gleaned, and the questions you need to ask.

How will you use your outdoor furniture?

Before you choose the style of your furniture, you need to think about how you want to use your outdoor space. Will you eat your lunches there? Or just use it for lounging? Will the children be crafting and drawing?

If you want your outdoor space to transform into a family dining area, then a round or rectangular dining table, with some nice dining chairs, works well as a central focus.

If lounging’s your priority, you could select a few arm chairs or an outdoor sofa. Couple it with a small coffee table, ottoman, or even a crafting table, for the kids to use, then you have an instant entertaining space. A firepit or outdoor fireplace can make the area cosy when it’s colder. A parasol or two keeps off the heat of the midday sun.

How big is your outdoor space?

If you’re setting up a family dining area, make sure there’s enough space around the table to let people move around, and sit comfortably. Dining chairs with arms are better suited to larger spaces.

If your patio area is small, a four-seater patio set lets a family of four – or a small group of friends – sit together cosily. If you feel this sort of patio furniture would take up too much space, a bench or a daybed is a good alternative.

daybed garden furniture

Daybeds can be a good option if you want to just lounge in your outdoor space.

Which materials work best in a changeable climate?

A key question you need to ask is, does your furniture need to stay outdoors all year long, or do you have space to store it in the winter? If you do, there’s more flexibility and choice. But even if your firniture has to stay put all year round, there are plenty of attractive garden furniture sets. You just need to make sure you choose the right materials.

Synthetic rattan garden furniture

We saw a lot of synthetic rattan in Denmark. This cane-like material is easy to maintain, and just needs a quick wipe down every now and then. Rattan furniture is lightweight, so it’s easy to move around. If you look around, you can find some very nice garden chairs and tables made of synthetic rattan. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to distinguish them from the ‘natural’ product.

Natural rattan or cane furniture

Natural rattan is elegant and lightweight. It won’t withstand constant exposure to moisture, though. Natural rattan furniture needs to be moved under shelter if the weather takes a turn for the worst, otherwise it can develop black patches around its edges.  It can be more tricky to clean, as the cane is made up of many tightly knitted parts.

Painted wood

Painted wooden furniture can look beautiful when it’s freshly painted. It does need to be maintained and re-painted occasionally, as this kind of furniture can get scraped easily. It’s wise to think about moving painted wood under shelter during weather extremes. It doesn’t do well in the rain and damp. Very hot, dry conditions can also make some wood splinter and crack.


Dark, hard woods like teak can give your garden a nice natural look, especially if you’re aiming for a rather wild, uncultivated look. You can leave furniture made from hardwood out all year round. It still needs to be maintained, though, otherwise the dark wood turns grey. A garden table made from hardwood would be heavier and less easy to move than a plastic or even a natural rattan table.

wooden bench

Hardwood can deteriorate if it isn’t maintained.

Aluminium/artificial wood

Furniture made from aluminium or artifical wood is easy to maintain. To clean it, you just need to hose it down. You can leave it outdoors all year round, and it’s lightweight, so it’s easy to move. Sometimes too easy – you do have to watch out if there’s a storm, or your aluminium garden chairs could end up blowing into a neighbour’s garden. Some people find aluminium a little cold, so a cushion or two helps make the chairs more comfortable.

Which sort of garden furniture would you choose?

Our trip to Denmark also inspired me to write about how to hygge your home, in this post. Have you ever been inspired into changing your home or garden, after a holiday or a trip away?

If you need to spruce up your garden before buyng new furniture, I reviewed Fantastic Gardeners, who offer London-wide gardening services, here.

This is a collaborative post, in partnership with Fishpools, and may contain compensated links. All images are from Pixabay.

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