A Guide to Natural Outdoor Materials
When you imagine the perfect modern outdoor space, you might think of expertly manicured landscaping or a putting green-worthy lawn. While a neat and tidy garden is admirable, we’re here to celebrate the authentic and refined beauty of a more relaxed, natural style. Let’s take a moment to explore the materials and designs that will help make your outdoor space feel like, well, an outdoor space. Design-savvy imperfectionists, rejoice.
Once reserved for your grandparent’s mid-century cocktail parlour, teak has now become a superstar in the outdoor furniture world. Known as the “king” of durable wood, teak has a high oil content that makes it naturally termite, pest, and weather resistant. Plus, it’s just plain stunning.
When your goal is to create an outdoor space that lives in harmony with nature, teak provides plenty of beautiful options that weather to a natural silver patina alongside the elements. If you’re looking to add a little hint of this rustic minimalism to your outdoor space, the Tana Stool or Teaka Lounge Chair are great options.
To define a relaxed outdoor eating area, consider the Farum Dining Set (shown in our header image above). It features an artisanal, handcrafted look that was made to show off your vintage vases and foraged blooms. If you haven’t gotten around to all of your pruning or weeding this year and your garden’s wildflowers and shrubs are growing freely, simply place the Farum nearby and your relaxed space will look completely intentional. Add a set of string lights and you’re ready to host the outdoor bash of the summer. Or, you know, to enjoy a cute family dinner with your toddlers. Toddlers love teak, right? And this teak loves them back. While the wood might look unfinished and raw, it’s sanded to a smooth, splinter-free texture.
Speaking of toddlers and caring for things, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your teak furniture looking it’s absolute best. If you’ve ever owned teak before, you know that its appearance weathers into a silver-gray patina over time. This isn’t an imperfection or a problem, just natural weathering that occurs over time. Ensure your teak patinas consistently and extend its lifespan by simply wiping any mess with a damp cloth and avoid power washing or extreme temperature changes. You know, all the normal stuff you’d do with any outdoor furniture you love.
A favorite of spas and koalas alike, eucalyptus is similar in color, density, and durability to teak. Our eucalyptus, like the kind the Reni Lounge Chair is made from, is FSC certified and grown sustainably in order to prevent deforestation.
Eucalyptus is also naturally resistant to rot and decay, which means you’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor pieces for many years to come. Which all sounds great, but what does eucalyptus furniture actually look like?
Well, let’s take a look at the Lagora Collection. With a number of modern outdoor dining and lounging options, the Lagora Collection shows that incorporating natural materials into your space doesn’t necessarily mean creating a fully rustic look. While the eucalyptus wood brings warmth, the minimalist style and clean lines of the pieces create a more streamlined feel. You can lean into the modern style by adding simple planters with ornamental grasses or bamboo, plus a few patterned cushions. Or, peel things back and go for an au naturel look with a few rattan-look lanterns and an abundant mix of lush and wild greenery.
When it comes to caring for eucalyptus, avoid letting it stand in water for long periods of time. AKA if you know a big storm is on its way, bring your eucalyptus pieces inside. You’ll also want to clean eucalyptus pieces periodically with a gentle brush and even gentler detergent — and steer clear of that power washer. Want to freshen up the look of your eucalyptus? Simply apply an outdoor hardwood oil once a year to add back that richness you fell in love with.
Rattan is possibly the easiest way to instantly add a more relaxed and natural feel to your outdoor space. Nobody’s ever screamed about a late deadline or a spilled pot of braised short ribs when they’re sitting on a rattan chair. As if you’re going to raise your voice when the Sankofa Stool is sitting there in all of its chill, rattan glory.
When shopping for rattan or rattan-look pieces, it’s important to note that natural rattan and synthetic wicker both exist. As we explain in another blog post, “Synthetic wicker (also known as resin wicker, synthetic rattan, all-weather wicker, or HDPE wicker) is typically made from an engineered resin material that replicates the look of natural wicker — but is highly resilient in outdoor environments.” To put it simply, rattan is the natural material, and wicker is the style of weave — which can come in many different materials.
When it comes to choosing natural rattan pieces, you can’t go wrong with something like the Ikast Lounge Chair. Picture yourself lounging on a pair of these atop a patch of flagstone in a hidden corner of your yard. Antique clay pottery holds a couple of olive trees; a glass of your favorite Grenache Blanc is set on the Catta Side Table nearby. Or, if the full extent of your outdoor space is an apartment balcony, a single Ikast chair can create an instant, natural escape. It adds a major design element, while bringing that connection with nature to an otherwise underutilized spot.
While rattan is a natural material, it benefits from some extra TLC. Like with other natural materials, drastic changes in temperature and moisture levels can crack and discolor your rattan. You’ll also want to keep your rattan out of the elements and either under a covered outdoor space and, if possible, inside when not in use.
Although there’s a time and place for synthetic outdoor materials, there’s a certain calm and beauty that comes with incorporating a nod to nature in your outdoor space. Woods like teak and eucalyptus, as well as materials like rattan, allow your well-designed patio or yard to blend into its natural environment in an organic way.