Outdoor fabric has come a long way over the past 5 years or so, from the classic caravan style awning stripe to some exciting new colourways, textures and prints. Not that there’s anything wrong with a classic, it becomes such due to the timeless design and general popularity. But as an industry, outdoor fabrics have made some giant strides forward in recent years. 2013 is no different and this season brings some exciting new fabric designers and a fresh perspective on the concept of indoor style fabrics for the outdoors.
There’s nothing like sprucing up your patio or summer room for the upcoming summer. After all, its not that long ago that green, brown or white plastic chairs were about all we had to furnish our patios with, so lets embrace this new found style and choice we now have. And oh how those times have changed, the outdoor fabric industry has made astounding improvements, and these days, your outdoor sofa is just as likely to be covered in material that’s as soft and stylish as the fabric on your living room sofa.
The latest outdoor fabric trends
The choice of colours, patterns, and textures has never been so good, all giving us exciting ways in which to decorate our patios, conservatories etc… So what’s hot for 2013? Well for Lazy Susan, it is all about the feel and texture of fabric that seems to be emerging as the prevalent trend for 2013. While, from a colour perspective, the combination of cool and warm colours in the same scheme is very much on trend both inside and outside the home.
A good example is the use of grey, generally viewed as a cold colour in design circles, now being combined with say a warm soft yellow; charcoal paired with chocolate brown; or a soft green or burnt orange paired with an ice blue are just a few of the successful schemes we’ve seen. Plus these combinations work exceptionally well with dark grey/black/brown garden furniture.
In terms of patterns, this was something you just didn’t see several years ago, but more and more its becoming a popular choice. Consumers are looking for patterns that are bold and bright, to create more upbeat styles. From a traditional Jacobian floral to a classically scrolled Damask in vibrant contemporary colourways. There’s been a big shift from neutral earth tones to a fresh white twinned with bright colours such as lime green, burnt orange and even a splash of purple/pink.
You tend to find that when the economy is not that strong, people tend to look for patterns and colours that are a little more adventurous, bolder, and brighter. It must be in our DNA, we naturally gravitate toward things that make us feel better, which lift our spirits. The garden is often viewed as anathema to hum drum of our everyday working lives, so what better place to experiment with colour and texture. We are becoming more adventurous with the textiles in our home, so the time is right to take that into the garden and onto the patio.
We have seen a recent shift back towards texture, with the use of jacquard weaves, Danish style medallion weaves and the chunky Dobby Loom style of woven fabrics. The garden should be a tactile place, so why not have tactile fabrics on your garden furniture? why not brighten up your patio furniture with bold stripes, or floral patterns. A big trend inside the home is to mix patterns up a little, with many interior designers putting bold stripes on the sofa, loud floral wallpaper in the background, and bright coloured cushions, so why can’t this type of experimentation transfer to the patio and garden?
Where to shop for outdoor fabrics?
Hands down, the Designers Guild has one of the most stunning ranges of outdoor fabrics available in the UK. Their tiana outdoor fabric collection for 2013 is fantastic, featuring vibrant colours, graphic all-over patterns that are printed on a specialised quality fabric that is perfect for use in the garden and on patio furniture. The collection even features a superb quality faux leather specially designed for outdoor use and on trend for 2013 textured weave fabrics.
Sunbrella are really at the cutting edge when it comes to outdoor fabric. Their high performance fabrics are suitable indoors or out, and they are specifically designed to resist fading from the sun, they are stain resistant, and they can be easily cleaned with just a mild soap and little warm water. Barclay Butera for Kravet has also created a fab collection that draws upon a lifelong love of the ocean, including his experience working and living on the California coast and vacationing in New England. His latest collection offers ticking stripes, skins, nautical geometrics and some beautiful solid textures.
Many fabric companies who have a history more associated with interiors are launching outdoor collections. Take a look at the Island Cloth Collection from Scalamandre Silks, Osborne & Little, Marimekko, Portico by Robert Allen, or the Sun ‘n’ Shade line from and Waverly as a couple of examples of companies who are really at the cutting edge of outdoor fabric fashions. The key to buying fabric that can function outdoors is to make sure it ticks all the boxes in terms of the necessary properties required of an outdoor fabric: durable, antimicrobial and high UV protection.
How to clean outdoor fabrics
First thing is to always read the care label. Outdoor fabric is meant to be left outside, but that’s not to say its maintenance-free and you can just leave it on the patio all year round. You should try and keep your cushions and parasol out of heavy rain to reduce the chance of mold. If they do get a soaking, make sure they are fully dry before you use them again, hang cushions on the washing line in the sun and allow all the moisture to drain out. And when not in use, store them indoors.
Many cushion covers can now be removed and popped in the washing machine. If they can’t, then you can simply spot clean your cushions and parasol. Just take a cloth, fill a bucket with warm water, add a squirt of bleach, wipe clean and then rinse with cold water. Always test and inconspicuous part of the fabric first. Mold and mildew will form on dirty fabric, so give your cushions a regular clean to remove the dust and dirt that accumulates. Never put outdoor fabrics in a dryer, leave them to dry naturally in the sun.
And don’t forget the Scotchgard! Their outdoor furniture protector forms an invisible barrier which repels water-based liquid such as rain, wine and coffee and helps protect against stains. It won’t alter the look, feel or breathability of fabrics, but it will help to keep them looking new and clean for much longer.
About Lazy Susan
Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit www.lazysusanfurniture.co.uk to find out more and view our complete product range.