From Sheltering Inside to Enjoying Outside: A Guide to Planning Outdoor Seating

Dated: 03/23/2020

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Picture this: a backyard party. Friends, neighbors, family - all crowded around a fire pit. Burgers on the grill. Marshmallows ready for toasting. Social distancing behind us. The snow melted away.

We know. It's not something we can do today, but we can dream, can't we? And we can plan for the day (hopefully soon!) when we have both socializing and sunshine. 

Planning for the future can be a great mini-escape from the difficulties of the day. Today we want to dive into that dream of outdoor fun, whether it's a big party to celebrate the end of social distancing or quiet time alone with a book without all your family members stuck under the same roof.

Whether you want seating for all your friends and family or a backyard getaway from the rest of the household, this guide helps you plan your outdoor seating. 

Vision

Start with your vision. What do you want to accomplish with your outdoor seating?

  • A space for a large number of people to gather together. 
  • A quiet space to relax on your own. 
  • A peaceful area to hang out with your family or as a couple. 
  • A combination of these goals. 

Now imagine the activities taking place in this area. Are you:

  • Reading a book? 
  • Playing lawn games with guests?
  • Grilling out with your spouse and kids?
  • Having a glass of wine and an end-of-day chat with your spouse after the kids went to bed?
  • Hosting a gaggle of teenagers excited to be allowed to see each other again?
  • Doing a combination of the above activities?

Once you have thought through how you plan to use your space, you can begin to think about what other factors impact your seating choices. 

Factors

  • Comfort. If you're planning to cozy up with a good book, that super sleek bench might not be your best bet. Try cushioned seating. You may want cushions just for the seats or for both the seat and the back of the chair/bench, depending on how you plan to use it. 
  • Convenience. If you expect to be busy wrangling toddlers; driving teenagers here, there and everywhere; or working long hours, remembering to bring seat cushions inside or cover delicate furniture could be unrealistic. Consider hardier options. 
  • Maintenance. If you do not enjoy seasonal/annual painting, washing, sealing of furniture, be sure to choose options that are easily maintained.

Options

Garden benches, bubble chairs, Adirondack chairs. There are many, many options out there for your outdoor seating area. Here are a few that sound appealing to us:

  • Hanging seats. Hammocks, bubble chairs, and swinging seats can be ways to get both motion and comfort. Don't have a large tree near where you want to sit? No problem. Most hanging chairs can be purchased with stands. No tree required.
  • Built-in. Built-in seating offers a sleek, unified appearance. Built-in seating is especially nice for smaller yards because it can use up less space. If you frequently move furniture around inside your house, you may find that you want to do the same outside. In that case, steer away from built-in seating that cannot be relocated easily. 
  • Around the tree bench. An around-the-tree bench offers both seating AND tree protection. It's also a nice way to enjoy the shade. 
  • Storage benches. We love the idea of a multi-use bench where you can store gardening tools, kids' toys, lawn games, or sports equipment.

Sheltering at home, especially with the constantly changing weather of a Chicagoland spring, is not easy for any of us. Maybe a little dreaming about a Labor Day pig roast or even a Wednesday evening glass of wine on the back porch can bring us an escape to look forward to. 

If there's anything your LW Reedy family can do for you during this difficult time, whether it's tips about homecare or discussing housing market concerns, please reach out to us. We are here for you. 

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