Put away that foldable fabric and aluminum lawn chair. Sling or strappy chaise lounges are yesterday’s news. As the lines between indoor and outdoor design and decor blur, lounge seating is taking center stage in increasingly stylish and functional outdoor living spaces.
"With people more focused on their home in recent years, the outdoor room has blossomed," says Paul Tarvin, founder and CEO of Frontgate.com. "People are building outdoor living spaces: outdoor kitchens, dining, and spacious seating," making the outdoor patio, deck, terrace or private beach "another family room for lounging, entertaining and simply relaxing."
Like any other frequently used space, they want that outdoor living room to be as comfortable and cozy as possible, Tarvin says. To that end, they are plopping themselves down on cocoon-like daybeds, cushioned all-weather wicker sectionals or tented chaise lounges arranged around cocktail tables with built-in fire pits.
“Outside there are no walls to hold you back,” said Thierry Herbert, CEO of Royal Botania, a luxe outdoor furniture line.
Whimsy sometimes takes precedence. In Ketchum, Idaho, Heather Newhouse, owner of openroomfurniture.com said homeowners are opting for “staycations” and are “into lounging. “ Going beyond the basic patio table and chairs, they are “having more fun with designs.”
Among her top sellers is the “The Queen of Love Armchair,” a jumbo-sized, eco-friendly, UV resistant Italian-designed takeoff on Louis XV style meets backyard deck. Made of recyclable plastic, the chairs, and a matching “Prince of Love” ottoman, are available in highlighter shades with names like candy pink, celestial blue, red passion and chocolate delight and are big enough for two grownups.
Bed-like loungers built for two, or more, add to the extreme ambience of the cocoon and tented looks. Restoration Hardware’s 24 new outdoor furniture collections play on Chairman and Co-CEO Gary Friedman’s vision “to create an inspiring and irreverent style movement.”
That includes a cozy-looking hand-woven, semi transparent $6000 wicker cocoon “Spartan Daybed from Neoteric Luxury” with a large peek hole in back, and a relaxed-looking Ibiza line of the “reinterpreted iconic bean bag chair, in an all weather fabric” that works on the patio, pool deck or on the beach.
At Miami-based Modani, a “duo convertible lounger” on a synthetic rattan base easily switches from outdoor platform bed to patio deck loungers with convertible headrests that let one person soak up the sun while the other lays back in the shade.
Flexibility rules. Frontgate.com is selling a modular, five piece cushioned loveseat cocoon with a retractable canopy on all weather wicker bases wrapped around aluminum frames that fit together like puzzle pieces. The ottoman and curved benches pull apart for less intimate entertaining. "Push the pieces together for a cozy spot for two," says Tarvin. "Pull the pieces apart for a party of 6." Canopy up provides shade; canopy down makes for a sun-filled day.
Target.com’s version of the cushioned daybed includes a curved two-section loveseat with a built-in accent table, ottoman, umbrella and accent pillows.
Think Cleopatra being fed grapes as you recline on Tuuci’s line of “private relaxation oases.”
Jennifer Lutton, vice president of Hospitality Sales, said durability, functionality and comfort as well as good looks are paramount for the new outdoor lounges. “Many can be equipped with fans, lighting and TVs,” Lutton says. “ This has become a luxury item that people can enjoy with family and friends.”
The uber-comfortable yet stunning tented (with optional retractable sunroof drapes) Crescent, Bali and Mercury lounges have plush cushions, throw pillows and durable yet sheer privacy curtains to pamper and protect with open air shade coverage on the beach, by the pool or under the Saharan desert sun. All that’s missing is a camel.
Conscious of the potential dangers of too much sun, “it was a natural progression in the industry to move towards chaises with built-in canopies and umbrellas that offer shade and protection,” says Royal Botania's Herbert.
The built in canopy and sling of Royal Botania's eye-catching, out-of-the-box hybrid hammock, “The Wave,” is made of a semi-transparent marine quality batyline fabric that blocks 86 percent of the sun’s rays. Designed to look like it floats, “ it can rotate 90 degrees around the base, giving it additional flexibility depending on position of the sun.” Just another reason to take it for a spin.