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8 best outdoor cushions to make your garden sofas and chairs more stylish

From washable plush pillows to waterproof cushions and bench pads, these best picks will keep you comfy

Katie Gregory
Monday 19 June 2023 15:29 BST
When it comes to outdoor cushions, comfort is key
When it comes to outdoor cushions, comfort is key (iStock/The Independent)
Our Top Picks

If you’re looking for an easy way to spruce up your garden or balcony this summer, an outdoor cushion is a quick win. Whether you plump for a colourful scatter cushion, a squashy floor cushion or a stylish seat pad, there’s no quicker route to an instant al fresco update.

More durable than their indoor counterparts, outdoor cushions are usually, but not always, crafted from weather-resistant fabrics. Waterproof – or at least water-resistant fabric – is ideal, as you’ll avoid a massive panic when you inevitably leave them out in the rain.

Quick-drying fabrics are also handy for exactly that reason, while cotton designs will stay cooler in the heat.

In terms of choosing the right outdoor cushion, it’s worth checking if the covers are removable and washable, or if they wipe clean well – particularly if you’re buying seat cushions for an outdoor dining setup where splashes and spills are likely.

As for style, the beauty of outdoor cushions is that you can create an on-trend look without making any permanent changes. Kit out your outdoor sofa with a scattering of mismatched cushions, or buy your favourite design in multiple shapes and sizes for a coordinated but casual look.

How we tested

When it comes to outdoor cushions, comfort is key – so we chose products that provided a pleasingly plump perch. We looked for stylish designs for various settings, from picnics to garden lounging, and gave extra points for value, durability, and easy cleaning.

The best outdoor cushions for 2023 are:

  • Best outdoor cushion overall – Atkin and Thyme blue striped embroidered scatter cushion: £25, Atkinandthyme.co.uk
  • Best picnic cushion – Heating & Plumbing waterproof outdoor cushion in pure new wool: £44.50, Heating-and-plumbing.com
  • Best indoor-outdoor cushion – Homescapes thick-stripe cotton floor cushion: From £9.99, Homescapesonline.com
  • Best outdoor floor cushions – Furn folk flora large outdoor floor cushion: £32, Furn.com

Atkin and Thyme blue striped embroidered scatter cushion

best outdoor cushions
  • Best: Overall
  • Sizes: 50cm square or 40cm x 60cm
  • Materials: Spun polyester, EcoCore polyester fibre
  • How to clean: Hand wash with warm soapy water

These classy cushions from Atkin and Thyme have a luxurious feel at a low price. We love the embroidered geometric pattern and sophisticated colourway, the fact the covers are removable for hand washing, and the generous size of the 50cm square design. There’s also a matching 40cm x 60cm rectangular design available, and they look great as a matching pair or teamed with coordinating scatter cushions in the range.

The cushions are suitably squashy and not overly filled – something we did notice was an issue with other cushions – and the filling is made from recycled plastic bottles. The icing on the cake is the price, which is far more reasonable than many of the luxury designs we tested, without a drop in quality or comfort.

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Furn folk flora large outdoor floor cushion

best outdoor cushions
  • Best: Floor cushion
  • Sizes: 70cm x 70cm
  • Materials: Water-resistant polyester
  • How to clean: Spot clean

We love the burnt-orange tone and folksy design of this floor cushion, which is also available in ochre. It’s a generously padded 70cm x 70cm, and large enough for an adult to sit on comfortably. The water-resistant design stood up to spills during testing, and the carry handle doubles as a hook for easy storage.

What’s particularly nice about this one is that you can buy lots of coordinating items – from a smaller outdoor cushion (£14, Furn.com) to a stylish outdoor rug (£48, Furn.com), and even a duvet cover set (£22, Furn.com), if you’re branching out around the house.

  1. £32 from Furn.com
Prices may vary
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Heating & Plumbing waterproof outdoor cushion in pure new wool

best outdoor cushions
  • Best: Picnic cushion
  • Sizes: 30cm x 30cm
  • Material: Pure new wool with polyester backing
  • How to clean: Machine wash on wool cycle

This dinky outdoor cushion from Heating & Plumbing is designed to match the brand’s pure wool picnic blankets. At 30cm x 30cm it’s just big enough to rest your head on for a post-picnic snooze, but small and light enough to carry down to the park, using the built-in carry handle.

Made from soft pure new wool in a bright rainbow stripe on one side, it has a waterproof backing on the other that’s great if you’re lounging on the grass. Zip off the cover to machine wash it on a wool cycle, and you’ll be the envy of your fellow picnickers.

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Rockett St George ink black and latte stripe outdoor garden cushion

best outdoor cushions
  • Best: Striped cushion
  • Sizes: 50cm x 50cm
  • Material: Polyester
  • How to clean: Unspecified

We love the bold diagonal stripes of this statement garden cushion from Rockett St George. The black and taupe colourway looks great against greenery if you’re after a striking look, and there’s a pink and coral version available if you want something softer.

The polyester fabric has a slight sheen that – along with the piped edging – gives the cushion a quality look and feel at a budget-friendly price. It’s showerproof, too, and generously padded for comfort. Team it with one of Rockett St George’s patterned outdoor rugs for the full effect.

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M&S x Fired Earth Acapulco Alva outdoor cushion

best outdoor cushion
  • Best: Tasselled cushion
  • Sizes: 50cm x 50cm
  • Material: Cover: 100 per cent cotton (exclusive of trimmings); filling: 100 per cent polyester; lining: 100 per cent polypropylene; tassel: 100 per cent cotton
  • How to clean: Wipe clean

M&S has teamed up with Fired Earth to create a collection of textile designs, one of which features on the Acapulco Alva outdoor cushion. We love the fact the Mexico-inspired pattern is different on each side, so you get two looks for the price of one, and the four corner tassels add the final flourish.

All the important boxes are ticked – it wipes clean well and the fabric is water-resistant – and the quality and attention to detail is everything you’d expect from these two household brands. Plus, there are lots of complementary designs and styles in the range – we also love the gorgeous Acapulco Salazar floor cushion (£39.50, Marksandspencer.com) – which create an effortlessly thrown-together look when combined.

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Monsoon palm print chair cushion

best outdoor cushions
  • Best: Seat cushion
  • Sizes: L 38cm
  • Material: 55 per cent viscose, 35 per cent cotton, 10 per cent linen
  • How to clean: Wipe clean

This soft and light chair cushion from Monsoon is made from a comfy linen and cotton blend and is covered in a summery botanical print. A full-seat design and ribbon tie at the back sets this one apart from the other seat cushions we tested, as it offers comfort for your back as well as your bottom.

The cushion is relatively thin and flat, which is practical for a dining chair and means it packs away to quite a small and rollable size when you’re not using it. While it wipes clean well, just bear in mind it’s not waterproof – so bring it inside when the weather’s not playing ball.

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Homescapes thick-stripe cotton floor cushion

best outdoor cushions
  • Best: Indoor-outdoor cushion
  • Sizes: 40cm x 40cm and 50cm x 50cm
  • Material: 100 per cent cotton fabric, filled with high quality resilient fibres
  • How to clean: Spot clean only

This box cushion from Homescapes is available in two sizes – 40cm x 40cm and 50cm x 50cm – so you can use it as a seat pad or a floor cushion. We love the simple striped design and range of six playful colours, including candy pink, sunshine yellow and sky blue.

Depth-wise the larger cushion measures 10cm deep while the smaller size is 8cm, so both offer a decent amount of padding. The built-in carry handle makes these a nice option for a sunny picnic, although bear in mind they’re not waterproof or washable. For that reason they’ll need to be stored indoors when not in use – although, they’re so pretty, that’s unlikely to be an issue.

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Armadillo Sun wave outdoor cushion

best outdoor cushions
  • Best: Coastal cushion
  • Sizes: 41cm x 41cm, 46cm x 28cm, 46cm x 46cm and 60cm x 35cm
  • Material: 100 per cent solution-dyed polyolefin
  • How to clean: Most stains can be wiped off, otherwise cushion covers can be washed at 30C. Do not iron or put in a dryer

Curating a coastal look? Armadillo Sun’s wave cushion has an ocean-inspired colour palette and subtle seaside vibes. Handmade in the UK, it’s the most expensive cushion in our shortlist, although the high-tech fabric is engineered to last for years.

Stain-, water- and UV-resistant, it’s durable enough to be left out in the sun without fading, and the cover can be washed in the machine at 30C, if it needs freshening up. Plus, there are four sizes to pick from, if you want to mix and match, in a choice of square and rectangular designs.

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The verdict: Outdoor chair cushions

Atkin and Thyme’s embroidered scatter cushion ticked all the boxes at a great price, and we couldn’t fault the quality. Furn’s folk flora floor cushion came a close second and is ideal if you’re looking for flexible outdoor seating as well as a choice of coordinating items.

Kit out the rest of your outside space with the best garden furniture

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