Can you mix different types of outdoor furniture?

We talk a lot on this blog about the pros and cons of materials, styles and functionality but can you mix different types of outdoor furniture in the same space?

When we talk about different types of Outdoor Furniture in our blog articles, we usually refer to a number of characteristics such as Material, Style, Function and Type. But can you mix and match those features on the same patio?

The terms are often  interchangeable though and we will often use them in different ways, however, for the purpose of this article, the list below is what we are concerned with when answering can you mix different types of garden furniture:

  1. Material
    Is it made from cast aluminium, iron, steel, wood, plastic, etc?
  2. Style
    Is it classical in style or sleek and modern?
  3. Function
    Is it for relaxation, semi-formal dining or multipurpose?
  4. Type
    Is it a garden dining set, garden bench, garden sofa set, etc?

In other words... Could you pair a Lazy Susan cast aluminium garden table with a wooden garden bench? Could you mix modern synthetic rattan pieces with classically-styled metal garden furniture? Could you pair a dining set with casual sofa-style seating? ...And so on.

Lazy Susan Bistro Tables Mixed with Egg Chair
A Lazy Susan Bistro Table has been perfectly mixed and matched with an Egg-Style Chair in this customer's wonderful outdoor room.

You will often see in interior design a period home given a modern twist or contemporary space made to look classical in design.

Can this be achieved in our gardens and how would we make it work? Inside the home, we also think nothing of pairing furniture made of different materials but is it that easy outside?

Well, that’s a conversation we want to try and start in this article. I’m not sure we will answer it all in one post but we will at least get you thinking about practical ways you can best mix and match these different elements successfully with a few principles and guidelines. 

Hopefully, we can suggest a few exterior design techniques that will help you look at your patio in a different way too.

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen emerge in our industry recently and one that we’ll see continue in 2023 is the “layered” look. 

Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture Mixed with Rattan Sofa Set
This customer has successfully 'zoned' their patio for dining and relaxing by pairing our Outdoor Furniture with a rattan sofa set.

Effective layering includes blending elements such as patio flooring (be it stone, decking or tiling), structures like pergolas or raised beds to frame the space, structural planting, and, of course, outdoor furniture. 

A well-designed space with all different materials and components working together in harmony. Creating outdoor spaces that are filled with various elements that cohesively blend with each other, and, in turn, add depth and personality to your garden or patio area. 

So, the big question this leaves us asking is how do professional garden designers achieve such a look and make it look so effortless?  

Well, for the team here at Lazy Susan HQ, creating a successful mix of different types and styles of outdoor furniture is all about pairing the right pieces, with suitable materials and following a few basic design principles or tricks of the trade.

How to mix and match different types of outdoor furniture

There is now such a wide range of different outdoor furniture materials to choose from in the UK - from wood and metal to resin rattans and HDPE plastics - chances are you might need to mix things up just to help create your garden vision.  

By sticking to just one material you could potentially be limiting your choices. However, that said, if you go OTT, then your patio could end up looking disjointed and messy.  

Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture Mixed with Modern Sofa Set
This customer has successfully mixed two contrasting styles with classical and modern-styled pieces in the same outdoor space. 

It is important to have a clear vision in mind, to mix and match the right outdoor furniture pieces or materials and then pull them all together to create your overall theme.

If you already own a Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture set, then you might be looking to match sofa-style seating alongside our outdoor dining tables and chairs (as shown in the customer photos above), but are thinking about how can you successfully marry these two seemingly conflicting styles.

The Lazy Susan team have a few simple tips and designer tricks that will hopefully help you mix and match those different functions, styles and materials of outdoor furniture all in one space:

1. Break The Rules (sort of)

First off, garden furniture doesn’t have to match. We can overthink and focus too much on how it looks. Style over substance so to speak. 

We always say that you should purchase the pieces of outdoor furniture that will help you get the most enjoyment out of your garden.

For example, if you like to have friends over for a BBQ, then a garden table and chairs are a logical choice. However, if you prefer to sit and read a good book on a sunny morning with a cup of coffee, then you might want your seating a little more laid back.

It is your outdoor space, you decide what goes in it. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules. Mix up styles. If it works for you, it works. 

Yes, we all want the furniture we put on our patios to look great, however, it also has to be functional, comfortable and designed for outdoor use.

If you are mixing eclectic pieces, then try and build in texture and layers to blur the lines and soften the edges.

Inside the home, we would do this with different fabrics, colours, lighting and accessories. Bring some of that outside with planting, outdoor fabrics and accessories.

Design is always personal, yes we should follow the guidelines, but don’t be afraid to bend and break the rulebook too. Express your creativity first and then use some of the basic design principles to help tie the space together.

2. Mix It Up

Garden furniture pieces don't always have to match, but in our experience, spaces flow best if there’s one or two thing(s) pulling it together, be it a common material, colour, pattern, period, height, scale, and so on. 

Think of it another way, too much of the same style on one patio could look a little boring, maybe even uninviting. It is about balance. You also don’t want your garden to look too "magazine-y". 

A garden just like a home should be welcoming, a space you want to (and feel you can) spend time in. Fill the space with items in just one single design style and it could look and feel a little like a showroom. 

By mixing up different design styles you can play them off each other and make a garden that is more stylish and layered. 

In design, we are taught the 80/20 rule (yes I know we just said they should be broken but…) and this is a great way to mix things up…

For example, when it comes to mixing different types of outdoor furniture in the same space, 80% should be one style type and 20% should be any other style you like. 

You take one primary style and mix in the other in small doses. So try and choose a larger big-ticket item in a classical style such as our cast aluminium outdoor dining sets and then layer and accessorise them with other decor styles.

3. Keep Colours Simple

If you go eclectic with different materials, types and styles of outdoor furniture, then you can still tie a space together by keeping your colour palette simple. 

For example, you could pair our white metal garden furniture with rustic bleached timber, pale stonework or white cushioned garden sofas for a cool contemporary vibe (the egg-chair photo above captures this perfectly).

Choose items in a similar colour palette but create variation with different shades and textures. A patio all in the same colour might sound boring but if done right tonal design is incredibly chic and stylish.

Too much colour and the space can get messy. If you want to mix different outdoor furniture styles, it is best done when they play nicely together.

Keeping your colour palette simple gives you more freedom to pull different pieces together. An ultra-modern garden sofa can pair perfectly with a more traditional dining-style set if your garden has a more cohesive colour scheme. You can bring in that nice subtle “pop” of colour with planting, outdoor fabrics or accessories.

4. Bring Indoors Outdoors

This is a technique that we’ve championed on this blog for many years now but for good reason. As a phrase, it has become a little bit of an industry cliché but it really is one the best techniques for designing a patio space.

Just think of it just like you would any room inside the home: 

  1. Carefully select pieces of furniture that have a timeless elegance in terms of material. 
  2. Furniture that is designed to stand up to the elements but would be just as welcome inside the home. 
  3. You want pieces that won’t go out of style in a few summers and are built to last for many to come.
  4. Furniture that offers the same practicality as those inside the home combined with a style that blurs the lines. 

Think alfresco dining sets, oversized sofas, chair throws, garden rugs, outdoor lamps, etc. Pieces that take inspiration from the inside but are designed for the garden.

5. Opposites Attract

When mixing different types or styles of outdoor furniture, you will often find that opposites attract too. 

For example, you can pair natural materials such as timber with metals to dramatic effect, and you will now find many sets that feature timber panelling in an aluminium framework.

Think about the different textures and what pieces could work together. 

And it doesn’t matter if you’re going for an eclectic boho chic look or an ultra-modern minimalist, mixing natural with manmade is a great way to create a truly timeless look.

Opposites attract in outdoor design because they often create the biggest impact too. Of course, you need to exercise caution but think about dark and light pieces, high paired with low, retro-modern with country chic, etc. 

Alternatively, you can take a more subtle approach and mix things like a glossy finish with a matte or sandstone with burnt orange, for example. 

When mixing different pieces of outdoor furniture you are often (without thinking) creating a sort of tension. However, that is a good thing in design, and you are in fact creating a balance. What at first appear to be conflicting elements, actually play very nicely together. 

Start Small

6. Start Small

If that last point all sounded a little too designer-speak, then this is a great tip for those unsure and looking to successfully mix different types of outdoor furniture or materials. 

Just start small, and dip your toe in the water. Start by selecting a main piece that you love and then build from that. Incorporate one or two different pieces and build the look slowly. 

Finding your own personal style is the starting point. Be inspired. Create a lookbook. Note down the colours and textures you're drawn to, and the materials and pieces you’d like to have in your garden.

Once you have a list of what you like (and don’t), you can be confident in mixing the pieces that will work for you. Do your research and look at the interior and garden design books, websites and magazines with a critical eye.  

They are designed (more often than not) to sell furniture but very few of us have homes like that. And, let's face it, you couldn’t live in a show home or relax in a Chelsea garden.

That is why we love and extensively use our customer photos more than professional shots, they show how our furniture looks in a real garden!

7. Match Patterns

We’ve already listed the importance of keeping colour palettes simple/complimentary but when it comes to mixing and matching outdoor furniture you can create harmony with pattern too.

Much of our collection features very natural forms, curved arches, spiral latticework, flower motifs, etc. It is very classical by design and if you were to pair it with other types of outdoor furniture, even in completely different materials, then you will want them to complement each other.

For example, pairing a natural-looking woven rattan-style piece in a darker hue such as a brown or dark grey with our antique bronze or slate finish will create a nice balance, the contrast is not such a leap that the differing patterns jar.

8. Zone by Function

Much like you would in a large open-plan indoor living space, zoning is another great way to mix different styles and pieces of outdoor furniture in the same space but still create cohesion.

This is best done on larger patios where you can subdivide the space by function.

For example, you could have an area for relaxing with maybe a large L-shaped sofa and coffee table, a designated formal dining area with a table and maybe a personal, cooking area with a grill, and so on.

You can mix furniture in the same space as the zones are clearly defined, the different pieces won’t clash and the whole space can flow. A great trick is to use outdoor rugs to help frame each zone further.

In a smaller space, this is a little more tricky but can be still achieved by using smaller pieces such as bistro sets and smaller sofa sets. The key is to not make the space look crowded though, so utilise pieces that can multitask and will make it look light and bright.

9. The Big Picture

Try and think of the finished design when you start the process. 

Many of us make the mistake of buying an outdoor furniture set because we like the set but overlook how it will look (and fit) when in situ with little regard to what place around it.

Think of the big picture to create that all-important harmony across the whole space. 

If your vision is for a casual but functional space, look for pieces that will deliver not only in terms of looks but usability too.

When mixing different pieces of outdoor furniture, or design styles for that matter, good planning is the key. 

Before you start shopping, it is important to visualise how all of the different pieces will come together, including any colours, textures, patterns, styles, etc.

Create a mood board, order samples, test finishes against each other, sketch out the patio floor plan, use rendering software, etc.

Whatever will help you make the right choices and help you best mix different types of outdoor furniture if that’s your goal, then do it!

10. Mix from the Same Collection 

Of course, with a company such as ours, you also have the option to mix different types of outdoor furniture but in a coordinating style. 

Our collection means you can mix dining sets with benches, side tables, loungers etc to create a more harmonious look.

The big advantage of selecting from a range is that your furniture is fully coordinated and each piece has been designed by our product development team to fit together. 

We take the stress out of the process and you don’t have to worry about finding pieces that match. You can add the interest with other elements such as planting, outdoor fabrics and accessories.

Whichever route you go down, we know from our Customer Photos that many of those who have purchased Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture love to mix and match.

If you’re starting the process and want to revamp your patio then hopefully we’ve given you a little food for thought to help create a space that looks great, is a joy to spend time in and has that all-important design balance and harmony.

If you have any photos of your new Lazy Susan Outdoor Furniture mixed and matched on your patio, then we’d love to see a few for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or email them to us at [email protected].

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