10 best outdoor furniture

Get ready for al fresco living with tables and chairs to dine out on

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The Independent Online

As the evenings get lighter and spring hands us a few long-awaited rays of sunshine, it’s not too early to entertain thoughts of evenings spent eating and drinking outdoors. For dining furniture that fares well in all weather, synthetic rattan is a durable choice and these sets can be kept outdoors with the use of a cover. Wood and metal are often cheaper, but need more maintenance. It's worth opting for a compact or folding design that lets you move chairs and tables in and outdoors easily. We’ve found a range of practical, stylish options. The majority on this list come with four or six chairs, but there are also some options to buy pieces separately to suit your space. 

1. Palermo 6-seater furniture set: £599.99, Homebase

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Homebase’s Palermo set is hard to beat on value. Less than £600 gets you six synthetic rattan armchairs with back and seat cushions, a generous 169.5x90cm dining table and a smart grey parasol. A protective cover is recommended to keep this set in good condition. It’s surprisingly stylish too, combining the look of traditional wicker with modern angular shapes.

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2. Parc 4-seat garden set: £155, Habitat

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The timeless bistro-style of outdoor furniture is great for tight spaces (and budgets). The lightweight foldable classic is easy to set up on a small patio or suntrap when the weather brightens. Metal seats aren’t the most comfortable for long spells, so you may need to grab cushions from indoors. Parc comes in slate blue, saffron yellow and bright red. 

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3. Zeno table and 4-chair set: £450, Habitat

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Habitat’s compact, foldable Zeno design is made for small gardens and patios. The leaves of the table fold out to a comfortable 150x95cm top, and the four folding chairs stow away in the table’s core when not in use. In natural oak, the set is best for fair-weather use, and needs covering if left outside. Delivery takes two weeks.

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4. Elba table and chairs: table £399 and chairs £169 each, Bo Concept

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A modern take on outdoor dining is BoConcept’s Elba set. The chairs have metal frames finished in black lacquer, with a seat and back of strung grey wicker. To add a pop of colour and contrast, there’s a matching canvas seat cushion in light blue (£26). The set can be used indoors and out, and delivery takes 3-5 weeks. The Elba table has a durable composite top that’s designed for outdoor use.

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5. Taranto dining set: £1,099, Next

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The smart-looking Taranto dining set from Next is made of synthetic wicker which is designed to be durable and beat the changeable British weather. The six chairs come with polyester, shower-resistant seat pads. It comes fully-assembled and can be delivered within 14 days. A matching cantilever parasol (£75) completes the set-up.

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6. House by John Lewis Jive outdoor furniture: table £139 and chairs £40 each, John Lewis

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John Lewis’ Jive set is cheap and cheerful. In navy, orchid or palm green it clearly has a tropical influence that should bring a party vibe to your al fresco dining. As with many budget options it requires hand-assembly, and the steel seats might need one or two cushions to improve the comfort factor. The set is made of weather-resistant steel and can be delivered within seven working days.

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7. Hampstead dining table and 4 chairs: £1,449, Bridgman

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Made with high-grade synthetic rattan, this four-person table and chair set can stay outdoors in all weather. The chairs come with waterproof and stainproof cushions making this set a good investment in the long term. There’s also a 10-year guarantee. The table is a wood composite, designed for outdoors, and it has adjustable feet – a handy feature for sloped or uneven ground.

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8. Palissade collection: from £109, SCP 

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The Palissade collection by Danish brand HAY has been in the works for over two years. Designed by French brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, the collection comprises 13 pieces including tables, chairs, loungers and benches. Designed to be lightweight but not fragile, each piece is made from electro-galvanised, powder-coated steel, giving it a perfectly-smooth finish.

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9. FALSTER table and 6 chairs: £455, Ikea

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Polystyrene slats make this set suitable for the outdoors, although a clever finish makes them look remarkably like wood. Combined with a rustproof aluminium frame, this chair and table set is designed to be lightweight and easy to move. A cushion easily adds comfort and colour to the basic design. To store outside, it requires a waterproof cover. 

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10. Ruscha table and 4 chairs: £479, Barker & Stonehouse 

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For a touch of Mediterranean style in the garden, the Ruscha table comes topped with decorative concrete tiles. Four bronze-finished metal chairs with a vintage style make this a compact but individual set for a quiet corner of the garden. From purchase, the set takes 14 weeks to arrive but each is made to order. Comes fully assembled.

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Verdict

For small gardens, where easy storage and flexibility is key, Habitat’s bistro-style Parc set offers good value and comes in a range of vibrant colours for welcoming summer. Homebase’s Palermo set has the best value when it comes to comfort, durability and long-lasting style. This is a dining table that could easily set the stage for those long summer evenings dining and entertaining al fresco.  

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