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SARASOTA, Florida — Outdoor furniture in Florida is trending more modern with clean, simple lines and plush seating. We’re seeing neutral colors for upholstery – gray, caramel, off white, sand and coffee-bean brown – with pops of color coming from toss pillows, garden foliage, and outdoor area rugs that anchor or define a space for conversation or for al fresco dining.

Modern materials for furniture are crafted to withstand climate conditions and include powder-coated cast aluminum, concrete and resin-wrapped metal that looks just like natural wicker or bamboo. Wood remains popular too. For upholstery, Sunbrella is the fabric you want. It costs more at the outset, but over time will prove to be a bargain because it doesn’t fade or mildew.

Because we use our outdoor spaces in Florida as an extension of indoor living and entertainment areas, there should be continuity between both. The two spaces should ideally blend together with similar colors and styles of furniture. In fact, it’s common today to move a piece of patio furniture inside when you need extra seating or an extra end table. To maintain a harmonious look, try to keep the flooring consistent inside and on the lanai or terrace. If not the same material, then the same color so that the eye travels from one area to the other taking it all in as one seamless and inviting space.

For homeowners who don’t have a covered area but want to create one, there are new lightweight easy to install cabanas that create a cozy room. Or you could take shelter under a big beautiful cantilevered umbrella, which provides instant shade and considerable sophisticated ambience. These new cantilevered umbrellas don’t have to be stuck in the middle of a table, they are freestanding, side-mounted, and so well constructed they open and close effortlessly. They start at about $3,000 for residential use and the place to see them in action is at the Sarasota Collection Home Store at 622 Central Avenue in Sarasota.

Owners Pam and Marcus Anast, maintain a lovely walled urban garden at the store and have arranged outdoor furniture, accessories, cabanas and cantilevered umbrellas so that it’s easy for homeowners to see how these pieces would look in their own outdoor spaces. They can also advise about size and proportions of the furniture so you don’t go home to your condo terrace with outdoor furniture made for a hotel plaza. Scale, proportion and balance – they matter inside and they matter outside too which is why it’s always a good idea to get professional advice.
Tips for buying outdoor furniture:

  • Look for simple styling – clean lines say luxury today.
  • Upholstery colors today are neutrals, no pattern.
  • Pops of color come from pillows, accessories, outdoor rugs, and natural foliage.
  • Invest in Sunbrella fabric for cushions and pillows.

Check out the new cantilevered umbrellas. Best innovation in years.