If you also feel like this winter has lasted for 14 months, fear not — it finally seems that warmer weather iscoming our way. With the shift into spring and summer comes the urge to do nearly anything outdoors: eating, entertaining, relaxing, you name it. If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor living space, whether it be a balcony or a yard, it’s time to start thinking about furnishing it to maximize outside time — even if your space isn’t exactly roomy. To get you started we’ve rounded up our favorite outdoor furniture for small spaces, so you can make the most of what you have and take the fun times outside.
How This Works
Every week we bring new products into our “test lab” and have the whole office vote on their favorites, based on quality, appearance, and price. The winners become the Top Picks of our Guides, which showcase the best products of the year.
Maxwell Ryan, our Founder & CEO, oversees the field, throws in his vote as well, and then demonstrates the favorites in a video so you can see them with your own eyes. Come back every Thursday for a new edition of The Guide right here and in social with Maxwell’s Instagram story!
Maxwell’s Top Pick
My absolute favorite. The most recognizable bistro furniture out there, Fermob folding chairs and tables are the standard of French cafe seating. With a variety of colors and styles available, there’s guaranteed to be a Fermob set for your space. The American Country Home Store sells each piece individually, so you also have the option to mix and match.
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This classic-looking wicker set gives off strong Parisian cafe vibes — just right for making a small outdoor space feel just a bit more elevated. Another small but important perk: each piece is foldable, making moving and storing a breeze.
This contemporary set comes in four bright colors that look great on their own or with some comfy throw pillows. This style also seems to be everywhere at the moment, and with good reason — the chairs are comfortable, the build is durable and the design is stylish.
Simple and sturdy, this set from IKEA is made of rust-proof aluminum and is actually quite lightweight. Typical for IKEA, the set has some ultra practical features, such as adjustable table feet for uneven floors and hooks under the table to hang bags.
For a more Mediterranean vibe, check out this collection from World Market. Sold separately, the cafe table has a tile mosaic tabletop and can be paired with one of two iron chair sets. Each tile is placed by hand, making this table look more expensive and one-of-a-kind than it is.
Our top “sophisticated” pick, this bistro set from Target’s Project 62 line is sleek and modern. The armchairs have a mesh backing, which makes them much more comfortable than those with metal bars, and the wood detail on the armrests adds some warmth to the otherwise industrial design.
Our top wood pick, this set is made of outdoor acacia wood and actually comes with cushions. The slightly wider set chairs and wood finish make this set especially cozy and inviting — perfect for evenings outside.
Bright but simple, the Harlan set is perfect for narrow balconies and porches. If blue isn’t your thing, this set also comes in more neutral shades like gray and sand — but who wouldn’t like a little pop of color in their outdoor space?
Sold separately, this bistro table and chairs from CB2 really do seem made for each other. The table is made of polished stainless steel and the chairs come in three colors, so you can easily mix and match (if that’s your thing).
For something really fun and contemporary, consider this set from West Elm. It comes in three colors, includes water-resistant seat cushions and has a nice powder-coated finish. It’s compact enough for small spaces, but is bold enough to work well in larger areas too.
Our top pick in the colorful category, the Hot Mesh Collection from Blu Dot is an office favorite. The colors are bright and, as the website says, “chipper” — we don’t disagree. The seats are actually very comfortable, and come in a normal cafe size as well as a wider and shorter lounge size.
- Add some ambiance with lighting. There’s a reason why string lights are so popular — they create the perfect mood lighting, especially when it’s dark out. If you lack outdoor outlets, many string lights are battery-operated, and made specifically for outside use. Another option is lanterns, so your candles stay safe from the elements.
- Focus on softening the space. Rugs and pillows are simple additions that can really make your outdoor space warm and inviting. If your furniture is simple and neutral, this is also the way to add some color and personality to your space. Also, don’t forget throw blankets for chilly nights!
- Practicality doesn’t have to be boring. Outdoor spaces are fun to decorate, but you have to be mindful that they are exposed to the elements. Make sure your furniture can withstand the weather, and if it can’t then invest in a simple furniture cover. Use a cart for your decor so you can easily transport everything in and out, and make sure your rug is suitable for outdoor use!
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