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The Quest For The Perfect Outdoor Lounge Chair

The sun is out, the birds are singing, and despite a recent cold snap, it’s a balmy 40 degrees out – and in my part of the country, that means it’s time to start thinking SPRING! Really, it’s time to start thinking patio furniture. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent one too many summers depending on a junky folding chair. Last year I dragged my feet until it was too late to upgrade, but this year I’m getting a head start, shopping while prices are still low and the most styles are still available. So, if you’re in the same spot as me, here you have it: my quest to find the perfect outdoor lounge chair.

Simple But Sturdy

Gemini Lounge Chair From Zuo Modern
Gemini Lounge Chair From Zuo Modern

From where I stand, outdoor lounge chairs should do one thing: be comfortable. Unfortunately, when you put any piece of furniture outside, comfort and even style inevitably wind up ranking pretty low on the priority list. Because, practically, you want your outdoor furniture to be weather resistant, easily stowable, and easy to keep clean. Plastic outdoor lounge chairs are definitely all three, but they’re neither comfortable nor stylish. Which is why I’m grateful for technical innovations like UV-resistant synthetic wicker which won’t crack, and UV and water resistant cushions made of antimicrobal foam. Together, they make for a simple yet comfortable, durable, and easy to clean outdoor lounge chair.

Mmm, Backrest

Phuket Outdoor Lounge Chairs From Zuo Modern
Phuket Outdoor Lounge Chairs From Zuo Modern

I’m of the opinion that even the simplest of outdoor lounge chairs are significantly improved by the inclusion of an adjustable backrest. Especially if you plan on spending a decent chunk of your summer outside on your deck or by your pool, you probably want your perfect lounge to have multiple backrest angles: chatting with your friend, reading a book, looking cool in your swimsuit and shades, and tanning. Personally, I like the relatively simple look of these Phuket lounges, but even in the ostensibly narrow category of “lounge chairs for one with adjustable backs” you wind up with a few options. Opt for a solid rather than an open base and you can get some hidden storage underneath the leg rest, and opt for a model without arm rests and it can be folded flat into comfortable bench seating if you have guests.

Kickin’ It Poolside

Casam Outdoor Lounge From Zuo Modern
Casam Outdoor Lounge From Zuo Modern

One of the most frustrating things about choosing an outdoor lounge chair meant to sit poolside is actually the pool. While there’s been a slew of innovation in color-fast, fade-proof, mold-resistant fabrics, and rust-free metal frames, the fact is that cushions and chlorinated pool water just do not mix. But most poolside loungers that take the pool water into account are just plain uncomfortable – hard plastic or bumpy synthetic or natural wicker that don’t play nice with swimsuited bodies. Instead, look for a lounge with an adjustable back, but covered in a flexible, breathable cloth. This will not only let water drip right through, but will conform more comfortably to your body – and with a color-fast material, you won’t have to worry about the water fading the color.

(Adjustable!) Chair With Ottoman

Florence Adjustable Outdoor Chair With Ottoman From Caluco
Florence Adjustable Outdoor Chair With Ottoman From Caluco

There are a hundred and one outdoor chairs out there in all different styles, ranging from simple folding models to wood to wrought iron, but few of them are made for lounging. But that’s actually why I especially like this option: a cushy padded wrought iron chair and matching ottoman. The ottoman makes it possible to put your feet up (the very point of a lounge!), but the real key here is that the back of the chair is adjustable, too. Not a true lounge, sure, but not only does it serve the purpose (and quite comfortably) but the adjustable back allows it to double as a regular chair, and even the ottoman can stand in for extra seating if necessary – a nice dual functionality for a smaller outdoor space.

Outdoor Bed For One (Or Two)

Mixime Daybed With Sunbrella Fabric From Caluco
Mixime Daybed With Sunbrella Fabric From Caluco

Okay, so this isn’t technically an outdoor lounge chair, but if I had a bigger back yard (or, let’s be honest, if I lived in a warmer climate) I would probably live in an outdoor bed like this Mixime Daybed from Caluco. Made of a synthetic wicker and powdered aluminum frame, it’s both lightweight and sturdy, with ample, relatively weather resistant cushions and a big ol’ canopy, designed for lazy summertime lounging in full sun or shade, much like you’d get from a patio umbrella but with so, so much more style.

Room To Share

Cove Beach Outdoor Lounge Set From Zuo Modern
Cove Beach Outdoor Lounge Set From Zuo Modern

Finally, as regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of space saving patio furniture, even when you have space to spare. That’s why I particularly like this Cove Beach lounge set, which is fairly similar to the outdoor bed above, but breaks into many multiple pieces and can be used as modular seating when needed. With a sofa-style body, two ottomans, and a connecting piece that doubles as a small table, you can either use this set as a cushy lounge for two or seating for up to six, meaning you won’t need extra furniture for the occasional guest.

What are you looking for in an outdoor lounge chair? Are you looking to add one or two pieces to your patio set this season, give your outdoor area a major facelift, or did you (unlike me!) manage to get to it last year? Let me know in the comments!