TRAVIS COLUMN: Long-life fabrics
Q We purchased coated wicker furniture for our patio eight years ago, and it’s still going strong. However, the cushions are falling apart, and we need to replace them. They are larger than the standard size that you can purchase off the shelf. Suggestions?
A: To locate a store that sells ready-made replacement cushions in different sizes, it’s helpful to do a search — key words “outdoor furniture cushions.” Or call a garden furniture retailer near you. They will be able to direct you back to the manufacturer, or some retailers carry more than one standard size. Another option is to make the cushions yourself or have them made by an upholsterer. This will give you the freedom of choosing fabrics that appeal to your personal style.
There are many patterns and punchy colors available in all-weather fabrics now, which allows you to design your outdoor space with the same flexibility and finesse that you enjoy indoors. The beautiful Sunbrella fabrics that have been combined in the backyard are Steeplechase Malibu (stripe), Canvas Natural, Macaw, Hot Pink and Navy. Check out the website, www.sunbrella.com.
With custom-made cushions, you can add piping, trims, buttons and fringes that enhance the quality of the overall look and feel of your sitting area.
Slipcovers make washing a breeze, but it’s not necessary to be able to remove them in order to clean. In most ordinary fabrics, dyes are added to the surface of the yarn or fabric. The color only penetrates the outer layer and washes out or fades easily.
The color in Sunbrella fabrics penetrates all the way to the core, ensuring lasting performance. This technology makes the fabric easy to clean with soap and water and a soft-bristle brush.
Sunbrella fabrics are guaranteed weatherproof in summer and winter.
When shopping for any fabric, be sure to ask for a product description and any special care instructions.
Q: Our 10th-floor condo has a long, narrow balcony that is our “summer garden” in the air. Flowerpots are filled, and we have set up a table, chairs and a lounge. The balcony floor is painted concrete. Do you have any suggestions for rugs, or is that not appropriate for outside? Thanks for your great ideas year-round.
A: Here’s a great place for a floorcloth, but there is one drawback to placing any covering over the concrete.
Rain and dampness will either soak in or creep under the carpet and ruin the surface of your balcony floor. So be aware that periodically you must roll up the carpet and allow the floor to dry thoroughly.
You can make your own floorcloth using a piece of vinyl floor covering. Cut it to fit your space, flip it over and decorate the paper-backed side, not the vinyl. Start with a coat of high-adhesion primer, let dry, then proceed with your design.
You can paint a checkerboard or simple stripes, or combine a plain background with some seasonal stencils.
Choosing colors and a mottled paint finish will help to hide any dirt or surface irregularities. Apply three or four coats of acrylic varnish to seal your work. Your floorcloth will be easy to wipe clean, and it will add new character to your summer garden setting.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website, www.debbietravis.com.