Having written a couple of features about garden furniture and furnishing your conservatory over the past few months, plus having been on the hunt for a good budget garden furniture set myself, I reckon I am well placed to give you a rundown of the best contemporary garden furniture currently on the (lower end of the) market. A lot of high-street shops are starting to really get into the idea of ‘inside out’ furniture – products in plastic or powder-coated steel that look as good on the patio as in a kitchen-diner – and there has also been a trickle down of the intricate, retro-inspired pieces in chunky weaves that have been a mainstay of (mostly Italian) designer brands such as B&B Italia and Emu. Sadly ‘budget’ seems to be a relative term when it comes to garden furniture, but these are all good-looking pieces that are sturdy enough to last, and some of them come from places you wouldn’t normally think of looking first.
Habitat’s Nicoll range is up first, for one simple reason – it’s half-price at the moment. This high-backed chair is £175, and there’s also a lower-backed one for £100. I love its clean lines and curves, and that jade green used for the seating pad adds to the tropical feel.
In a similar vein is IKEA’s Högsten Easy chair, £79 (like the Nicoll chair above, it also comes in a low-backed version – I can see how it might look a bit over-the-top if you had four giant wingback chairs in a small town garden, so it would be good to mix and match). There is no mistaking that it is quite, um, plasticky, up close, but at least this means that it will be weather-proof.
Now this was a surprise – a sophisticated chinoiserie-inspired Jasmine bench from Very (but you can tell people it’s from Jonathan Adler, if you like), £199. I would ditch the patterned scatter cushions so you could see more of the fretwork back.
And finally, B&Q’s own-brand Blooma has come up with the boxy, crate-like Cavallo seating set (£699). If you want a proper sofa set, but, like me, are fundamentally allergic to those dark-brown fake wicker things that have just stepped off the patio of an Ibizan beach bar, then this is the one for you. It looks very simple, and the lavender-blue cushions will fit well with the colours of an English garden.