With Room For Two These Stylish Table and Chairs Combos are a Big Trend This Summer and They’re Perfect for a Modern Garden
Need somewhere to sit, unwind, savour a drink or two as the sun goes down or enjoy quality catch-up time with your partner? A bistro set is the answer. Affordable and oh-so-stylish, they’re a great way to update your outside space for summer without spending a fortune, creating an inviting al fresco focal point as well as a practical spot to sit. While there are still plenty of traditional bistro sets with two folding chairs and a waist-height table on the market, it’s the slew of more modern designs in all sorts of gorgeous shapes that has us drooling. With just enough space for two, they’re ideal for lazy breakfasts, me-time reading and intimate drinks and dinner dates. And, as in Verena and Henry Day’s garden, see page 50, they’re perfectly sized for a small plot, too.
INJECT SOME PERSONALITY
Originating from the pavement cafes of Paris, bistro sets are designed to make the most of busy compact spaces, with a minimal footprint but still enabling diners to savour their drinks and meals in style. Today’s designs borrow from this heritage, but the range of materials, shapes and colours has never been more tempting. There are textured open rattan chairs and low tables, and shapely resin seats in pops of this season’s hottest colours. There are luxe upholstered chairs complete with high backs and comfy arms, and there are sculptural shell-style sets in vibrant polypropylene that will happily survive outside in all weathers. There are linear rope-strung models in chic muted shades of mocha or light grey that ooze understated elegance, and there are retro egg-style chairs in vivid blue, pistachio or tangerine. So, whatever vibe you want to create, there’s a set for you.
WANT AN ALL-WEATHER SET?
If you don’t want to be faffing about storing and putting out cushions, then there are lots of bistro sets that can cope with the joys of the British weather. Synthetic or extruded rattan in a natural finish has lost its plasticky appearance and is almost indistinguishable from the real thing, but doesn’t fade or weaken when exposed to UV rays or moisture. This process has also led to poly rattan or rope-strung style designs appearing on the market. Their fine, taut lines are formed by wrapping the extruded plastic around a metal frame to form the angular seat, arms and back of each chair or base and top of a table.
The perfect technique for playing with colour, these designs often use two contrasting shades of yarn to create graphic patterns offset against the powder-coated, metal frame for further interest. Designs using injection-moulded polyethylene are now available in a wide spectrum of muted and vivid colours. Their continuous, curving shapes create smooth and seamless designs that suit the current urban vibe. UV-resistant, they resist fading and cracking, making them the perfect choice for particularly sunny spots.
WILL YOU NEED TO MOVE IT?
Because they’re so compact, you can move a bistro set to different spots in your garden, and some models are designed to be easily stored. Folding designs take up little space when stashed away, but are better kept under cover as the point where they pivot can be prone to rusting. Furniture that consists of an injection-moulded or tubular frame can often be stacked, but check that they’re light to handle if you’re moving them regularly. If you’re likely to be shifting your bistro set often, look for a design that features built-in cut-away or side handles, giving them a dash of utility charm as well as making them easier to lift. If you’re short on space, look for sets with complementing leg arrangements so the seating can neatly slide under the table when not in use, such as the 2 Seater Oval Bistro Set, £110, from Argos. The ultra-nifty Yesenia 2 seater Bistro Set, £165.99, from wayfair.co.uk, comes with stackable chairs so they can easily be stored away when not in use.
KEEP IT LOOKING GOOD
Keeping outdoor furniture in tip-top condition shouldn’t be a chore! Materials such as synthetic rattan can be washed down using warm water and a soft bristle brush. Synthetic rope-style furniture can be wiped over or doused using a pressure washer on a low setting.
Avoid using hard abrasives or strong detergents as this can scratch and discolour the surface. Foaming cleaners are also best avoided as these can gather in the weave and attract dirt. Instead, opt for a non-foaming product such as 4 Seasons Outdoor Wicker and Textilene Protector, £24/500ml, hayesgardenworld.co.uk. It also helps to protect from sunlight
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