Outdoor Lounging

Tips to create the perfect lanai living space

Oceanfront resorts, downtown cafes, even pool-side nightclubs.

These venues have long taken advantage of Hawaii’s idyllic year-round weather, creating inviting outdoor dining and lounge areas suitable for an Island lifestyle.

And now, more homeowners want to create a livable outdoor room with sturdy furnishings that don’t skimp on aesthetics.

“Hawaii is unlike any other place in the world, where you can really live indoors and outdoors,” says Jenn Johnson, ASID and co-owner of Pacific Home. “And they want to make that transition from outdoor to indoor seamless.”

A recent trend in creating an outdoor space is lounge-style furnishing, including sectionals, large tables and daybeds (or pune’e in Hawaiian).

“People are always doing pupu and drinks, and they want that lounge experience outdoors,” Johnson says. “People are dining in a more informal way.”

Brown Jordan, a California-based, high-end leisure furnishing company, has launched three new collections РOpen, Parkway Curvilinear and Bay Creek Рthat combine posh living with outdoor function, with that uber-cool lounge feel. The company features everything from love seats to modular sectionals with a variety of fabrics, weaves and materials that look more like chic resort d̩cor than patio furniture.

“Think big L-shaped, U-shaped and curved groups similar to what you would find indoors in an upscale living room,” says John Fiedler, owner of Lanai Things on Kamani Street in Honolulu, which has exclusively featured outdoor furnishings, including Brown Jordan, since 1975.

Still, Fiedler says, chairs and dining furniture remain the most popular pieces for outdoor living spaces.

“Everyone needs a place to sit when they are outside,” Fiedler says. “Virtually all designs start with a dining chair, and then groups are built around the look of the chair.”

But Hawaii’s tropical weather and proximity to the ocean can pose unique challenges when shopping for furniture for lanais, even covered ones.

Prolonged sun exposure can fade fabrics and damage certain finishes. Humidity contributes to mold growth. Salt spray can cause rusting in uncoated metals.

Most lanai furniture is built specifically for outdoor use. In fact, there are even throw pillows, chair cushions and rugs that are manufactured to withstand the elements.

But as with anything exposed to sun, rain and ocean spray, the way to extend the life of your furniture is through diligent maintenance. Some materials – such as woods and teaks – require more care than powder-coated metals and woven resin.

“You wash your car sometimes,” Fielder says. “(Then) clean your furniture, too.”

Because of the quality of materials and manufacturing techniques used in producing outdoor furniture, these pieces can cost more than their indoor counterparts, says Johnson. “That’s the biggest stumbling block for people,” she adds. “That’s been the biggest myth.”

For example, comfortable seating for two people – two lounge chairs, two ottomans and a small side table – can cost upward of $3,000. Larger groupings of furniture, including sectionals and additional tables, can cost $10,000 or more.

Cost, though, is just one factor customers should consider. And it’s not always the most important.

“People should give thought to what they want to accomplish from the perspective of both function and design,” Fielder says. “They need to determinate how they will use the furniture … once a customer thinks about these issues, it is a lot easier to focus on options.”

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