Summer Classics offers outdoor sectional seating designed to fit any space. No matter how big (or small) your living area, you can get a look you love. Offering individual pieces that fit together like a puzzle or links in a chain, Summer Classics makes it easy to create seating for five or 50.
Summer Classics and Gabby creative director Chris Hutchens shares his design knowledge for choosing outdoor sectional seating and accessory pieces to suit your style and space.
Choose Your Style:
“Look for lines that complement the architecture and scale of your space,” says Chris. Summer Classics offers five lines of luxury furnishings with outdoor sectional seating options in a multitude of finishes and fabric choices. Whether you prefer the look of teak or woven wicker, light finishes or dark, vibrant upholstery or something more subdued, Summer Classics makes it easy to create a look that will reflect your personal style. Choose outdoor sectionals in straight lines or serpentine shapes to find a look that suits your space.
Once you’ve found the look you love, it’s time to decide how you plan to use your outdoor room.
Consider Your Needs:
Do you host a lot of people in that outdoor room or is it just for you and your family? Choosing outdoor furniture for entertaining is very different than choosing pieces for small groups or family. If you plan to entertain and host lots and lots of people, you’re going to need some extra seating segments for your sectional. Thankfully, each outdoor sectional is designed in segments. Center seating pieces and end pieces make length and orientation completely customizable. You’ll probably need some stand alone seating too.
Find Your Outdoor Room’s Focal Point:
Hint: “It’s the thing that drew your eye to that space,” says Chris. Your outdoor room’s focal point may be a pool, television, fireplace, or outdoor kitchen. You’ll want to orient furniture and views to that focal point. If you don’t have a focal point, create one, advises Chris. “Sometimes the focal point can be the furniture itself. I love the Sedona daybed for this reason,” Chris says. “It’s a piece that has a bold presence. It works well to anchor other pieces, but it’s also strong enough to stand alone.”
Use Your Measuring Tape:
More than one interior design professional will confess to early career mistakes of ordering the wrong size furniture, and they’ll readily admit: One lesson learned is enough. So the big question: How do you avoid this kind of disaster and make sure you can bring home the look you love? The answers are pretty easy, really. And you don’t have to be a trained interior designer to figure it out.
“A few Summer Classics designers use CAD to design rooms and spaces but designers prefer hand-drawing or Sketch Up—a design program that anyone can purchase,” Chris says. Because sketch up is a little pricey ($695), and there’s a bigger learning curve. Looking for other options? Check out this link for a review of 10 FREE design programs.
Because most of these programs are built for very detailed 2D and 3D interior designs that are more complicated than outdoor spaces, Chris’s advice to homeowners is to use the old-fashioned method of layout and design using graph paper.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- Measuring Tape (and possibly a friend to hold one end).
- Pencil (with eraser!).
- Graph paper (available at most every office supply store).
- Ruler or straight edge.
- Basic math skills.
- Tape (in case you need to use more than one piece of paper).
Measure your space along the outside walls and draw the perimeter of your room on graph paper. To draw your room to scale, let each box equal one square foot. Say your room is 144 inches long. (That’s 12 feet) So, on graph paper, that’s 12 squares.
Next, go back and identify door openings, windows, pathways, and focal points. Mark these on your graph paper outline using the same scale as the room dimensions. These spaces will be critical when determining the flow of your room. If your room or area isn’t perfectly square the same principles still apply—you’ll just be doing a little more measuring!
Measure Before You Buy:
You’ve chosen the look you love, you’ve found your room’s focal point, and you have determined how you plan to use your space. Now it’s time to measure the furnishings you are interested in to see how they can work for you.
If you can visit a Summer Classics retail store, it’s always great to get a sense of scale in person. Most tags have design specs on them, but bring your measuring tape just in case. Whether you gather measurements in person or online, trace out the furniture specifications on a separate piece of graph paper and cut them out. This way, you can move them around, change their orientation, and find the layout that works best for your space.
“Shop for the largest piece of furniture first,” Chris says. “This will be the anchor for the room and everything else will fall in around it.” If you are shopping for outdoor sectional seating, you will need to determine how many individual elements you need to get the size you want. Don’t forget to measure pieces individually so you can add or subtract sections on your graph paper layout.
“A large outdoor sectional is a lot of look from one collection,” says Chris. “I like to introduce other lines to create a more interesting room. For instance, I love mixing different finishes to get a custom designer look.” Try using wood pieces from Club Teak with wicker seating from the Rustic Collection.
“And remember, even though an outdoor sectional can seat a lot of people, you still need to offer alternative seating such as outdoor lounge chairs and club chairs to create groupings that encourage conversation,” says Chris. “I also like to use ottomans for extra seating. They are easy to pull into different spaces. It’s also fun to bring in stacks of pillows or poufs.”
Be Mindful of Traffic Patterns:
When playing with your paper room cutouts, be sure to consider room flow. You want to have easy ingress and egress to seating groups. Interior design principles dictate that you’ll need somewhere between 30 to 36 inches between individual pieces to have a clear pathway. Another tip: Watch out for sprinkler systems! You don’t want to offer a guest a comfortable seat only to watch them get drenched. If you can’t move the watering system, at least remember to turn it off!
Don’t Forget About Doorways and Pathways:
When planning furniture layouts and access, be sure to use the 30 to 36 inch rule when creating clearings for doorways, walkways, and gates that lead to and from your patio, pool deck, or other outdoor room. Depending on your needs—or your family’s needs—you may want to make paths a little wider to accommodate friends or family members that rely on walkers or wheelchairs. Similarly, be mindful about which way your doors swing open. You don’t want to hit your new furniture with the door every time you step outside.
“It’s good to know the rules,” Chris says. “But don’t be afraid to break them. In the words of the late great Dorothy Draper, ‘If it looks right, it is right.’”
Other Measurements to Know – A Handy Cheat Sheet for Designers and Do-it-Yourselfers:
Distance between coffee table and sofa: 14 to 18 inches.
Distance between seating and television: 7 feet.
Distance between dining chairs: 24 inches.
Area rugs: If you are including an outdoor rug in your plans, be sure to choose one that reaches 36 inches beyond the feet of furniture. This is especially important with dining tables (you need room to scoot your chair back!).
Make sure to place end tables and occasional tables within arm’s reach. You don’t want your guests looking around for a place to set their drink. This is a place to relax!
Bring Your Ideas to Life:
After rearranging your room on paper a gazillion times (or more), you finally have a plan! Now it’s time to place your outdoor furniture order with confidence. And, when you visit one of their retailers, you can show your plan to a design expert to reaffirm your decisions.
Your order has arrived! Don’t forget to show your white glove delivery person your design. It’s a lot easier to unpack and set things up once you know where they are going.
Fill in the Blanks:
Once your outdoor sectional seating, armchairs, and tables are in place, it’s time to fill in with outdoor accessories. Summer Classics carries a variety of outdoor occasional tables, outdoor lighting, and accent pillows. To soften your hardscape, include containers that complement your design and fill with seasonal blooms, greenery, or evergreen shrubbery. Accessories are the place to make your space uniquely yours.
Have a Seat:
Pour yourself a glass of tea, stretch out on your new sectional sofa and say, “Ahhhhh!” Your new outdoor furniture has arrived and your room is complete. Invite your friends to enjoy the comforts of Summer Classics outdoor furniture and enjoy watching all of your graph paper plans come to life. There’s no doubt your company will love your new space just as much as you do.