Yes, we fully accept the UK weather is as fickle as ever, but that needn’t stop you readying your outdoor space for a summer of lounging and dining. Firm in our belief that ‘if you furnish it, it will come’ here are our favourite online furniture stores for superlative garden furniture.
You may think that outdoor furniture comes down to a few aluminium deck chairs and maybe a picnic table. And while there is much to be said for keeping things simple, there’s still plenty more elegant furnishings to be discovered.
Be it a garden dining set, fire pits, parasols, hammocks or a plush outdoor sofa - the current lines of outdoor furniture available is seriously impressive, and allows you to cultivate your own sunny haven, regardless of the space limitations you may have, or how many people you need to set your garden up to entertain.
Should you leave garden furniture outside?
Let’s be honest: there are those of us who will be conscientious about our garden furniture, and treat it as it should be - lovingly covering it overnight with a robust, weatherproof cover, or moving it to our shed.
But more of us, one suspects, will leave it outdoors year round, regardless of the weather.
Whether or not this will hasten the demise of your outdoor furniture depends on the material of the furniture, its quality and durability. Some of the more aesthetically handsome furniture pieces are made with looks foremost in the designer’s mind, but less concern for its durability.
Here, our advice is to ensure you read the product information thoroughly ahead of ordering. Check - is it weatherproof? (you’re golden). Rust-resistant? Or simply weather resistant (in which case you’ll need to treat it with kid gloves and cover it up over winter and in the rain)? Also pay attention the weight - if you’re in a windy part of our country the weight will determine whether or not your furniture gets blown away.
Make sure to read the product information carefully before placing an order to check whether it’s weatherproof, rust-resistant or weather-resistant, and research the weight of the furniture so that it isn’t easily blown over by the wind.
What is rattan garden furniture?
Rattan outdoor furniture is having a ‘moment’ in the UK now, proving a hugely popular option for people seeking outdoor furniture. You’ll know the look: woven and a touch boho. But what is it?
Firstly - it’s not wicker, which is a style of weave. Rattan, instead, is the material used to make the weave. That means rattan furniture is more often than not not actually rattan, but rather a synthetic material designed to mimic rattan.
The synthetic version is quite often less expensive, and it wears well, so it’s a savvy option if you really like the look.
In terms of the stores that do it best - Amara, Cox & Cox and good ol’ Marks and Spencers impress us.
Check out our selection of the best rattan furniture
How do I start to furnish my garden with garden furniture?
As you would do with your house - start with the fundamentals, and then you can further develop the ‘look’ of your garden from there. It’s worth spending a little bit more on these garden basics, as they’ll likely last season after season, while garden accessories can be replaced cheaply and more frequently.
The fundamentals? A garden dining set - tables and chairs - are the best place to start for entertaining, be it others or just yourself. If you’re limited on space opt for a bistro or patio set - more bijou, but perfect for breakfasting in the sun.
Got a bit more space and money? Now add in an outdoor sofa, deck chair or sun lounger. Once these comfy pieces are in place, you can expand to the realm of lighting and heaters (or a fire pit, the best of both worlds) to keep things going when the sun goes down, and then aspects to make things more cosy, like sofa cushions and outdoor rugs.
Which are the best online furniture stores in the UK?
Best garden furniture store for investment pieces: Cox & Cox
Elegant, traditional, comfortable. Cox & Cox is the best of British style - utterly bucolic, dare we say old-fashioned, furniture for seriously decadent outdoor living. They’re not cheap, but every piece screams of quality.
What do they sell: Dining tables and sets, firepits and braziers, daybeds and sun loungers, garden accessories, hanging chairs
Our favourite piece: Cannes Canopied Daybed, £1850, is ideal for lounging with pomp, circumstance, and summer shade.
Best budget garden furniture brand: Aldi
Of course you’ll be familiar already with Aldi, the cut price mega store that sells almost everything. They’ve one cult status among shoppers for their keenly priced dupes of more expensive garden pieces - most legendarily, the sell-out Hanging Egg Chair.
Although there’s a natural depreciation in quality, their furniture offers an impressive, affordable choice to those who want on-trend pieces but can’t pay full price.
What do they sell: Deck chairs, furniture sets, gazebos, bistro dining sets.
Our favourite piece: Arguably not ‘furniture’, but the Intex Inflatable 4 Person Hot Tub, £399 offers a fun, accessibly priced hot tub you and your friends can relax in throughout long summer evenings.
Best for online guidance on choosing furniture: The Conran Shop
The Conran Shop is brilliant if you have a tough time imagining how pieces will work in your garden: the virtual consultation service helps you figure out which furniture would work best in your home and garden. The designers are high-end and construction impeccable - an impressive proposition.
What do they sell: A range of tables, chairs, sofas and decorative accessories.
Our favourite piece: The Pacha Outdoor Lounge Chair With Swivel is a sort of marshmallow-cum-lounge-chair you’ll sink into and never want to get back up.
Best for rustic garden furniture: Oka
Let us be clear - there’s more to Oka than simply their rustic pieces, but they absolutely excel at them, creating furniture that looks utterly in place in the outdoors.
Their constructions are impeccable - cleverly built to make the most of space, gorgeous to look at, and utterly comfortable.
What do they sell: Garden tables, seating, and accessories. Particularly deft with polyrattan and durable wood-look furniture.
Our favourite piece: The Orseno Dining Set manages the neat trick of pairing the grandeur of Camelot’s round table with a laid back, beachy feel. Ideal for relaxed lingering lunches.
Best for sustainability and the eco-conscious: Nkuku
We’re not including Nkuku exclusively for their eco credentials, impressive though they may be, as the brand is dedicated to using natural and reclaimed materials and crafting their furniture using traditional methods to cut emissions.
All this would be moot if the furniture wasn’t also gorgeous - often with a natural, weather-beaten look - and extremely comfortable.
What do they sell: A full range of garden furniture, including lights, and a particularly great selection of iron fire pits.
Our favourite piece: The Reclaimed Iron Fire Pit Kadai has a beautifully burnished look, and comes complete with a grill to turn it into an instant BBQ.
Best for quirky French artisanal pieces: La Redoute
La Redoute sources and distributes furniture by French artisanal craftspeople, meaning their furniture is impressively made, often bright and colourful, and utterly unique. Despite these impressive credentials, it’s keenly priced, as well - you won’t be paying over the odds for something no one else will have.
What do they sell: A little bit of everything, but their garden dining tables are particularly great.
Our favourite piece: The Méla Acacia Garden Dining Set is ideal for lingering outdoor lunches. The high oil content of the acacia wood means this dining set will last season after season - and only get better looking.
Best for an impressive range: Marks and Spencer
Oh, M&S, you’re so reliable. Marky’s range of furniture and accessories is wide, covering off a range of current and perennial trends, and the quality is assured. Prices are usually reasonable, and after care service is impressive.
What do they sell: from sun loungers, garden sofas, to dining sets and accessories - they have it all.
Our favourite piece: At £129, the synthetic wicker Lois Garden Sofa is a bargain - stylish and comfy.
Best for artisanal furniture, expertly made: Bombinate
You want to know about Bombinate - they’re very, very good. Expertly made furniture, designed by artisans, and screamingly stylish, they’ll elevate your living space from functional to ‘covetable’.
What do they sell: garden chairs, tables, tableware, accessories.
Our favourite piece: The industrial vibe of the Black Capri Dining Table is gorgeous, and functional.
Best for midrange prices: The Range
If you’re after some garden furniture fundamentals at a reasonable price, the Range is and excellent place to look, offering a well-priced, expertly constructed selection of every garden furniture staple you can thing of.
What do they sell: Everything you could need, from furniture to accessories.
Our favourite piece: The New Hampshire Transformer Set is a lounge suite with table and ottoman that cleverly transforms to save space when not in use. Canny and comfy.
Best for high-end brands: Amara
Amara sifts through high-end brands to find stylish, sturdy pieces. With a mix of traditional and modern styles. They’re not cheap, but you can feel the quality.
What do they sell: All the garden furniture usuals, with a particularly impressive selection of Hanging Egg Chairs.
Our favourite piece: Outdoor Rope Weave Rocking Chair, a perfect blend of iron and acacia wood, is the stuff of outdoor lounging dreams: just add a great book and along drink.