Outdoor sofa ideas: 15 ways to create a stylish seating space, plus tips on how to buy one
Up the comfort factor with our outdoor sofa ideas and create a space that's perfect for lounging around all summer long
Looking for outdoor sofa ideas so you can make your outside space as comfortable, stylish and cosy as your indoor living space? With everything from corner sofas and hanging sofas to dining sofas and even fire pits sets available, the options for you to up the comfort factor outdoors are endless.
Like all garden furniture ideas, the type of sofa that will work in your garden will of course depend on the space you have available. You'll want a design that's big enough to encourage some serious summer lounging, but not so big that it dominates your patio and leaves little room for anything else in your garden.
You'll also need to consider the materials you choose for your outdoor sofa ideas carefully. If you go for wooden designs, are you happy to have some level of ongoing maintenance to keep it looking good, or would you prefer the low-maintenance choice of aluminium styles instead?
And let's not forget the overall style of your sofa too. Choosing a design that works with the rest of your garden scheme is key. Low, angular sofas work well with a contemporary-style space, while rattan sofas in a classic shape are better suited to cottage-style gardens. To get you inspired to find the best outdoor sofa ideas for your space, we've rounded up 15 of our favourite looks, plus there's expert tips from on what you need to consider before buying a new outdoor sofa. Keep reading to find your perfect pick.
1. Go for sleek lines for a contemporary look
If you're a fan of our modern garden ideas, you'll want to make sure that your outdoor sofa ideas will suit the clean, contemporary lines of your space.
This gorgeous design works with beautifully with the pale colour of the paving, while the slimline frame and legs of the sofa ensure it doesn't dominate the space. Wooden tables complement the materials used in the garden too, ensuring this luxurious corner setup sits comfortably in its modern surroundings.
2. Choose a hanging sofa for the ultimate relaxation spot
Want to create a cosy corner where you can while away the afternoon and gently rock yourself to sleep? Sounds like bliss, doesn't it?
Opting for a hanging sofa will let you do just that. You'll get all the comfort of a sofa with sink-into-me cushions, plus the added bonus of the rocking motion for extra relaxation.
Hanging chairs are one of this season's hottest styles, so you'll be bang on trend too. We love this three-seater hanging sofa design – there's plenty of space for two or three people but we're not sure we'd be sharing this spot with anyone!
3. Design a U-shape sofa for a sociable entertaining area
Love the idea of creating a sociable set up for entertaining family and friends? A U-shaped sofa arrangement naturally lends itself to relaxed garden party ideas as everyone can join in the conversation with ease.
Opt for modular outdoor sofa ideas and you can tailor the layout to suit your space too. Keep to a U-shaped layout for garden get-togethers, or remove one of the sides to create more of an L-shaped set up with the remaining sections used as single armchairs instead.
4. Match your outdoor furniture for a cohesive look
If you're lucky enough to have a large outdoor space and plenty of room for separate seating and dining areas, choosing furniture items from the same range can help to visually link the different zones of your outdoor living space.
In this setup, the frame material and style is the same for both the sofa and dining furniture, but by opting for contrasting cushion colours it helps to create a subtle point of difference between the two areas.
Picking up the blue cushion colour in the edging and accessories in the sofa area is a stylish touch, ensuring the two furniture sets sit comfortably next to each other.
5. Introduce coloured cushions for added interest
Your outdoor sofa ideas are the perfect opportunity to introduce a splash of colour and personality to your patio.
Neutral tones remain the go-to colour of choice for outdoor sofa cushions, but if you want to make your outdoor sofa ideas stand out from the crowd, why not opt for something a little bolder and brighter?
The soft coral hues of this pretty set would suit our classic cottage garden ideas, adding a romantic, whimsical touch to your patio setup.
There's more inspiration in our colourful garden furniture ideas too.
6. Keep it low and angular for a modern vibe
If this sleek sofa design doesn't encourage lazy weekend afternoons relaxing outdoors, then we're not sure what would.
A matching footstool offers maximum flexibility as it can be pushed against one end of the corner sofa to create a chaise effect for an extra lounging spot, or it can be used as an additional seat when you have extra guests.
Want some extra storage space to boost your garden storage ideas? Look out for tables, sofas and footstools with hidden storage underneath so you can keep extra cushions and throws dry in wet weather.
7. Create a sheltered spot for your sofa
For the ultimate in outdoor living space ideas, create a sheltered spot in the garden for your sofa and you'll instantly have somewhere that feels intimate, private and can be used all year round.
Having a roof overhead will automatically make the space feel more like a room, so why not decorate it just as you would your indoor living room? Add pattern and texture with accessories such as outdoor rugs, textiles, lighting and plenty of greenery to help you feel immersed in your outside space.
If you want to create a similar space in your garden, there's more inspiration in our patio cover ideas feature.
8. Zone your sofa space with an outdoor rug
In a large garden, outdoor furniture can run the risk of looking a little lost in the space, so choosing the right size design is essential to make it work with the scale of your garden.
Another way to help your sofa sit well in its surroundings is to give it a strong focal point by arranging the seating around an outdoor rug. Not only will it help to zone the space, it will also introduce texture and comfort underfoot, perfect for that shoes-off garden vibe we all love in the height of summer.
Here, the soft blue of the furniture cushions is echoed in the tones of the rug and lanterns for a subtle colour scheme that adds a layer of interest without dominating the space.
Check out our best outdoor rugs if you want to give your seating space a similar feel.
9. Combine aluminium and wood for an on-trend look
Love the natural look of wood but don't want the ongoing maintenance of an all-wood design? By choosing a sofa that combines different materials you'll get the best of both worlds.
Powder-coated aluminium frames are hard-wearing and require no upkeep, making them a perfect choice for outdoor sofas.
10. Choose pale colours for a Scandi feel
Want a classic Scandi-style look that won't go out of style? Opt for a sofa and matching armchairs in timeless shapes and subtle oatmeal tones and you'll have made the winning choice.
The gorgeous combination pictured above manages to be both elegant and comfy. What's more, it would work just as well indoors, so if you have a conservatory or garden room you could use it inside your home during the cooler months.
Thanks to its more compact dimensions, it's also a great choice for our small garden ideas.
11. Opt a fire pit table for the ultimate after dark setup
We've all been using our gardens more than ever during the last year, and finding ways to make the most of our time outdoors has been key.
When the sun goes down and temperatures begin to drop, ensuring you stay warm and cosy outdoors is essential to maximise your enjoyment of the space.
Opting for a corner sofa set complete with a gas fire pit table is a sleek, contemporary way to add plenty of warmth and create a stunning showpiece for your alfresco seating setup. In this fire pit table, the central gas fire is surrounded by glass for safety and there's still plenty of room for drinks and snacks around the edge of the table too.
Discover more ways to stay warm after dark with our outdoor heating ideas.
12. Include a parasol for essential summer shade
As much as we love the summer sunshine, there are times when we all crave a little respite from the heat and glare of the midday sun.
Team your outdoor sofa with one of the best garden parasols overhead and you'll always be able to retreat from the heat when you need a break from the sunshine. Plus, if you like to spend time working outdoors in the summer, it will help to minimise the glare on your laptop screen too.
A cantilevered parasol such as this can sit neatly to one side of your seating space so you don't need to worry about the pole or base taking up room in the middle of your seating area. Opt for a tilting model to ensure you can move it to shield you from the changing angle of the sun's rays.
13. Choose curves for a softer look
Want to offset the hard edges of your garden landscaping ideas? Introducing furniture with curved shapes will immediately soften the overall look of your space.
This lounge set combines contemporary twisted Polystring with a beautiful acacia wood frame to provide a stunning contrast.
Curves can also be a good choice for family garden ideas – no sharp corners for kids to fall into (or even adults to walk into after a glass or two of wine) means less chance of accidents and tears.
14. Go for a high table for a cosy dining space
If you're short on space and don't have room for a dining and seating area, opt for a outdoor sofa combined with a high central table and you can either lounge around or dine in style with one practical design.
Guests will love the added comfort they get with this style of outdoor dining ideas as they can simply sit back and relax once they've tucked into the delicious BBQ food you've served up. Just be warned that you might have a job getting them to leave at the end of the night...
15. Add a coffee table for a flexible setup
If your outdoor sofa area is set to be your main entertaining space, you'll want to ensure there's somewhere to place your drinks, nibbles, BBQ food and even candles and lanterns for adding atmosphere after dark.
A central coffee table will cater for all of this and more. Make sure its size is in keeping with the size and scale of your sofa – too small and it will look lost in the space, too big and it will dominate. Why not team it with one of our outdoor bar ideas for the ultimate entertaining space?
As shown above, adding a table can be a brilliant way to include another material in your setup too. Introducing a timber tabletop helps to soften the overall look of this seating area.
What do you need to consider for your outdoor sofa ideas?
'Well for starters, you need to count heads,' say the experts at LOFA. 'If there are only two of you, then perhaps a small lounge set with a two-seater sofa, a couple of chairs and a coffee table might be the way to go. If, however, there are more than two of you then take a look at the wide choice of casual lounge sets. They can seat from four up to eight people comfortably, and if you like to have the family or friends around this is the ideal solution for you.'
What size outdoor sofa should I choose?
'Sofas and lounge sets come in all shapes and sizes – they can be rectangular, square or even round,' explain the experts at LOFA. 'Buying a garden sofa set is a considered purchase, so take your time and make sure you buy the set that suits your needs and space.
'The old saying of “measure twice and cut once” is a great piece of advice. Before you buy make sure you measure your outdoor space properly, and ensure that there will be enough space to walk around the furniture and room for it to be moved if needed too. Most LOFA members have sizes and dimensions listed with their furniture on their websites, so you can find out all this crucial information before you buy.'
Do you want an outdoor sofa for lounging or dining?
The other thing to think about when considering your outdoor sofa ideas is will you just be using your sofa to lounge on, or will you be also using it with a table and perhaps a few extra chairs for entertaining?
'If you want to use your outdoor sofa for dining as well as lounging, then a casual dining sofa set might the way to go,' explains LOFA. 'These multi-functional modular sets are the ideal solution for any outdoor space. Usually made from durable and hard-wearing rattan-weave or aluminium, they can be left outside all year round and come with comfortable cushions and plenty of space for all the family.'
Don't forget about comfort...
'When it comes to buying an outdoor sofa, cushions are very important. You shouldn't sacrifice comfort for style, so where possible it's always a good idea to test them out before you buy,' says the experts at LOFA. 'If you can choose all-weather outdoor cushions as it means you won’t have to run outside every time it rains.
'If sustainability is a big factor for you too, then look for eco fabric cushions that are made from recycled bottles.
'If you are purchasing from a LOFA member, then you can be safe in the knowledge that the cushions are LOFA Assured, which means they meet current Government Fire Safety Regulations.'
Want to keep your outdoor sofa looking its best, whatever the weather? Head over to our guide to the best outdoor furniture covers.
For the past 18 years, Beth has worked for and contributed to a number of leading magazines in the UK, including Real Homes, Ideal Home, Period Living, Grand Designs and Good Homes amongst others. Now the editor of Gardeningetc.com, Beth's attention is firmly outdoors. Her own garden is a really important part of her family's home, and she loves spending time tending to the veg patch or entertaining friends and family at a summer BBQ or alfresco pizza night.
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