Ah, Spring! That time of year that makes us want to get outside and fill our lungs with fresh clean air, dispelling the stodgy indoor existence of winter. While we might fantasize about spending hours walking through meadows or lolling under cherry trees, in actuality, most of our existence revolves around activities a bit closer to home. On account of this, we have seen the rise of outdoor rooms complete, in some cases, with televisions, fireplaces and other amenities that are usually only seen inside the main confines of a house.
Demanding that our furniture function in more challenging conditions, companies have been quick to respond with the invention of furniture and fabrics that have been specifically engineered for outdoor (or kid friendly) environments. Once reserved exclusively for patios and other spaces that would take the brunt of nature's gifts, fabrics have now become nearly indistinguishable from the soft-handed textiles that might be found on a high-end sofa or club chair. However, these are not the cottons of yesteryear, prone to damp, mildew and mold. Rather, we are seeing an influx of solution dyed acrylics that are water resistant and colorfast, making them a lasting choice for any space.
With furniture, more consideration has to be put into how the items are made. Issues such as drainage become something to be dealt with on a more frequent basis (well, at least more frequently than the rare glass of water or wine might present on an indoor sofa) however, comfort and style still need to be seamlessly integrated.
Let’s take a closer look at both solution-dyed acrylic and furniture construction and, as always, if you would like to chat further about how to select the best outdoor furniture or fabrics for your project, please do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Hawthorne House.
Acrylics are textile yarns that are made when chains of polyacrylonitrile come together in long strands during the fabrication process. One of the more common ways of coloring these fibers has been to twist them into yarns and then dye them before weaving them into fabrics. In this manner of “yarn-dyeing” the color is not an intrinsic part of the fiber itself. However, in solution dyed acrylics, the actual liquid mixed to create the textile chains is colored and when the fibers are extruded, they are that color from the moment it is formed.
While acrylic is naturally water resistant, brands such as Kravet, Sunbrella, Thibaut and the creme-de-la-creme, Perennials, use the solution-dying process which will allow the fabric to perform at a higher level and be more resistant to light and general wear and tear of the outside world. The fabric itself is also mold and mildew resistant. It does not mean that mold or mildew will not form, however, those two dreaded consequences of outdoor living are more likely to form as they adhere to dust and dirt, of which there are copious amounts in even a screened in porch. It is imperative, therefore, that all outdoor fabric surfaces are regularly dusted or vacuumed with spills (sticky popsicles? Margerita’s?) promptly cleaned as to deny the mold a surface upon which to feed!
Along with the practicalities, the feel of these fabrics is leaps and bounds ahead of where “outdoor fabric” was a few years ago and now, in most cases, is nearly indistinguishable from some of the luxury interior fabrics now available. You would be hard oppressed to find someone who could tell if a sample is authentic linen or a Perennials outdoor acrylic. It makes these new fabrics an ideal choice for high use areas even inside the home such as eating areas, bar stools and banquets.
In a previous blog we investigated what lies beneath all of the padding, stuffing and fabric of a typical upholstered piece. Well, cast that aside for now and let us delve into the construction of an outdoor piece of furniture! Considerations need to be made that usually do not apply to an indoor piece, and the following diagram is an intriguing look into the inner workings of how Lee Industries tackles this. Notice how the back and seat steel springs have been removed, and the fabrics and foam used are all made to allow water to drain and the piece to breathe.
Outdoors or Indoors?
We love how the lines are becoming blurred between the indoors and out, and with the imminent arrival of Spring, we can't wait to open up our windows and let those two areas co-exit. Now that more attention is being paid to both the construction of outdoor furniture but especially with the new indoor/outdoor fabrics, it makes sense to look at these versatile elements when planing any space.