Outdoor Furniture For Small Spaces

Outdoor Furniture For Small Spaces

By Zisi Naimark

Spring has officially sprung on March 20, though apparently no one told the weather. With the change in Sh’moneh Esrei, Jewish mentality has now officially shifted into warm-weather mode, and as I type this and sniffle I hope that this time the weather complies. Hopefully this article will be timely and not premature.

The first thing to know about buying outdoor furniture is that the beginning of winter is the best time to buy. This is when all items are on sale. It’s also a good indication of whether or not you really need something. After all, you will need to store the pieces for a few months instead of having instant gratification. So you learn two important things: whether the furniture piece is good enough to wait for, and whether you actually have room for it. Despite pieces being weather-proof, despite them coming with rain covers, despite your storage room being stuffed with baby toys and sukkah boards and bikes, it is still a very bad idea to leave furniture outside all winter. Expect a reminder about this from me in November, im yirtzeh Hashem.

If you are one of the rare creatures with a backyard, you have lots of options. Two important things to keep in mind:

  • Is your ground level? Even slightly bumpy is bad news for outdoor furniture. It would be a shame to spend a few hundred dollars on that charming set and have it become either useless or ruined within two weeks.
  • Do your kids play back there? Do you want that fancy wrought iron dining set to be incorporated into games of war and to accessorize the trampoline? No, you absolutely do not have enough room for both a trampoline and a dining set back there. Kindly prioritize, or expect an increase in urgent care visits.

For the majority who are dealing with just a porch, you have several things to keep in mind.

  • You can pick metal furniture, wood furniture, or natural fibers like rattan and bamboo. Unless you’re an expert, you should really not try to mix and match in such a small space.
  • If you buy more than you can store away, then consider your furniture a one-year investment.
  • If you overcrowd your area, you will not get any use out of it, thereby defeating the purpose. The plans drawn below are not theoretical. Any more furniture than that and you will not be able to access the seats, let alone sit on them.
  • If you have the slummy habit of using your porch as a storage room, please see to that before buying anything.
  • Keep in mind the angle of sunshine. There are many good options that come with sun umbrellas.
  • If you are not very sociable, then pick a furniture arrangement that does not directly face street traffic. It is not your neighbors’ fault that you are sitting there and that convention demands saying hello.

Apartment Building Balconies:

I have drawn this balcony at 6’ long and 4’ wide. If your balcony is any smaller than that, please do not put out anything but plants.

On the left you have a large, comfy seat and a medium-size table. On the right are two 18” chairs. This is the size of a folding chair or a shul chair. Eighteen-inch seats are as small as you can standardly find, and not exactly luxurious, but it’s the only way you can seat two on a balcony this size. The table is a miserly one foot across. Think you can fit two larger seats, or a tiny love seat? Well, it’s your money; you’re welcome to try.

Townhouse Porch:

This is drawn at 7’ deep, with the usable width at around 11.5’. Here is the sociable layout, where you will have to say hi to the neighbors. You get one comfy chair, one loveseat, and two side tables.

Here’s the anti-social layout, though there is no telling what lengths extroverts will go through to say hi.

Next week: a selection of well-priced, petite outdoor furniture. One thing you probably won’t find is a dining set. You’re welcome to buy one, but I’ve never once seen a porch table in use except upstate. Like, ever.

Zisi Naimark holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The New York School of Interior Design and has been working for professional design firms since 2012.  She lives in Kew Gardens Hills, where she is tolerated by her husband and sons.  She can be reached at zisinaimark@icloud.com.