Bring some low maintenance, space-saving, ultra-stylish seating to your outdoor space with built-in solutions.
TEXT BY STEPHEN BIGHENS
Sometimes the best seat of all is the one made by Mother Nature herself. Or perhaps by the hands of those who work ever so carefully to gently mold earth, stone, wood, and steel into the beauty that becomes the outdoor spaces we flock to each spring. Very often the most popular and used area of these outdoor spaces is the gathering area where we sit and talk with friends and family for hours, enjoying the beautiful NY/CT weather. But with sitting areas comes…you guessed it, seating. That seating—most often in the form of table and chair sets— can introduce a lot of necessary maintenance in an otherwise low maintenance outdoor space.
A trip to a local garden center or a browsing session online will reveal many options for outdoor furniture in the market place today. Everything from the handcrafted made-to-order beauties from the likes of Munder Skiles Garden Furniture in Garrison, NY, to the more commercially available offerings of Brown Jordan and Telescope Casual Furniture are sure to wow and impress. And while there will always be a need for some of these essential furnishings, the rapidly growing trend of built-in outdoor seating has made it’s way to the hot list for the 2015 season.
Seat walls, natural boulder placements, bolt-on options, and inset seat benches are all viable and stylish ways to introduce permanent seating into the modern day outdoor living space. And while the concept of built-in seating is certainl not a new one—features like seat walls have been popular for many years now—the popularity and demand has really increased as of late. So what is it that’s causing built-in seating to find its way into the designs of so many outdoor living spaces in our area?
For one, seat walls and built-in seat benches can be a great solution for adding additional seating to areas that are limited on space. Depending on the overall design, these seating choices can mean the difference of being able to fit a lifestyle feature such as an outdoor kitchen or a fire pit in the outdoor living space. Pretty big impact, right? In many situations, a wall that is necessary for the project’s stability can be modified slightly to provide a large amount of extra seating. And for those that like to entertain but have a small space to do it in, those extra seats mean more happy guests and more time outdoors.
Built-in seating also aligns well with the continued growing demand for design solutions and products with limited or no maintenance. In today’s fast paced world, it’s either easy to use or own, or it’s out. Here in the Northeast, we treat our beloved outdoor living spaces to the unpleasant experience of winter weather. With snow, ice, and temperatures that dive down into the single digits being the norm for a few months out of every 12, it’s important for NY/CT residents to consider the effects these conditions can have on elements of an outdoor room. With built-in seating made from concrete, stone, and Brazilian hardwoods like Ipe, much of the maintenance time of either covering traditional furniture pieces or packing and storing them, is reduced or eliminated.
Perhaps the best part of these built-in seating options, however, is that even with all the added benefits they bring to a space, there’s no need to sacrifice style. That, my friend, is a win-win. So be sure to finish off your seat walls and boulder chairs with colorful outdoor pillows—there’s nothing quite like the hard, cold surface of stone softened and warmed by fabric. Drop some landscape lighting fixtures in or around the stone or wood benches, add some hidden compartments for easy storage of the pillows and entertaining supplies, and curl up with a book to enjoy the connection to nature that only a seat made from wood and stone can bring.