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4 expert tips when buying outdoor tables and chairs for your hospitality business

The warm and sunny weather has been a bit late to show up in the UK this year, but it's all good because it means as the owner of an independent hospitality business you've got a bit more time to sort out your outdoor seating area for customers.

I'm diving straight into today's blog post, so here's 4 expert tips to help you when buying outdoor furniture like tables and chairs for your hospitality business.

1. Choose an outdoor furniture style that reflects the personality and ethos of your independent business

It might seem an obvious thing to say, but when on the hunt for new outdoor furniture it's worth considering how the design and style reflects the personality and/or ethos of your independent business and not just whether the furniture is looks nice.

If you're the small business owner of a café focusing on locally sourced foods and a sustainably designed menu (and interior), buying second hand or vintage chairs and tables would be a great way to showcase your conscious, minimal-impact business ethos.

On the flip side of that, if your independent business is a cool drinks bar with a clean-cut, minimalist aesthetic you should be choosing a style of outdoor table and chair that portrays this personality. I'm thinking the same chair style used throughout (in possibly just one colour), with a high-quality design and feel to it.

And on the mention of colour, powder-coated chairs and tables are an easy way to add brand colours to your outside space. A lot of contract furniture suppliers are able to provide any RAL colour of your choice on certain powder-coated furniture products, so don't be afraid to ask!

2. Consider the material of the outdoor furniture in relation to where your hospitality business is based

The material and finish of the outdoor furniture should play a big part in your choosing and buying process. If your independent business is located by the sea or you're in a part of the UK that gets a lot of rainfall, you'll want to to consider something like a lacquered or powder-coated finish to minimise any rust issues with your outdoor furniture. It might also be worth focusing on just polypropylene chairs for minimal maintenance and replacements in the long run.

If your outdoor tables and chairs are going to be spending several hours each day, every day, on an uncovered terrace during the summer time it's worth thinking about materials that can be UV protected and don't fade or discolour in the sun.

And don't forget that some materials and colours can get super hot in prolonged sunlight - I'm looking at you, black powder-coated metal - or be highly reflective in direct sunlight, causing annoyance and discomfort for customers. This is where outdoor furniture accessories are going to be your best friend (explained in Point 4 further down).

3. How you plan to store your outdoor furniture will impact what size and style to buy

If you're a hospitality business with outdoor furniture on a local high street that needs to be stored away daily, light-weight tables and chairs will be your saviour when you (or your staff) have to carry it outside and inside, day in, day out.. So any heavy cast-iron table bases and the likes might be best ruled out if this is the case.

Choosing outdoor furniture that can be folded will help with easier daily carrying and storing. Another option if you're limited on storage space is stackable outdoor chairs - it can also be easier to carry multiple chairs this way. Some four-legged tables can also be stacked.

If your independent business has a dedicated/private outdoor garden or outdoor dining area you don't have to worry too much about the size or weight of your outdoor furniture since it won't need to be put away every day. Instead, material and finish choice, as mentioned in Point 2, is more important for you and the long term maintenance of your outdoor furniture if it's only being stored away in the winter months (or not even at all).

With a large outdoor seating area you also have the ability to include some fixed outdoor furniture such as booths, banquette seating and picnic benches. They're a great way to add visual interest as well as style and comfort to your outdoor area, encouraging more customers to dine and drink outside as well as spend longer (and more money) at your small business.

4. Outdoor furniture accessories will enhance the outdoor dining or drinking experience of your hospitality business

Outdoor furniture accessories or extras can be the icing on the cake for a great outdoor dining/drinking experience. Here's some accessories to consider for your independent business..

Parasols - the perfect British weather solution for when the midday sun can get unbearably hot.. Or when there's a sudden, unexpected rain shower during a pub lunch and pint in the summer. Just consider the base of your outdoor tables (pedestal bases mean you won't be able to have a table top with a central parasol hole), or go for an alternative option of a jumbo parasol that plenty of tables and chairs can be placed underneath.

Outdoor planters are a great way to add colour and texture to an otherwise dull outdoor dining area, or one with lots of hard finishes. If your small business has an outdoor area at the front planters can be used to create an inviting first impression, as well as providing an element of privacy for customers seated there. Some outdoor planters are fitted with roller castors so they can be wheeled out during opening hours and moved in or out of sight when your small business is closed.

Another great way to add colour and soft textures to your outside area are seat pads and loose cushions. Try to use seat pads that are removable on loose outdoor chairs and booth/banquette seating so that they can be stored safely away during winter months - this also makes them easier to clean. There's plenty of outdoor upholstery fabrics to choose from that are waterproof for sudden rain showers and UV protected to reduce fading and discolouration in the sun.

And if you're a hospitality business that's open during the evening or has an outdoor space open all-year, blankets have become a very popular outdoor accessory to further boost customer comfort!


So those are my 4 expert tips to help you when buying outdoor tables and chairs for your hospitality business. You can also check out this blog post for some outdoor furniture inspiration and ideas.

If you're a small business owner looking for some ideas and guidance for your outdoor space, check out my one-to-one consultation service. Or if you're wanting a more detailed approach to designing the outdoor area of your hospitality business, my full interior design service is the perfect thing for you.

(Cover Image: Rooted Studio via Unsplash)


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