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Get ready for summer with 10 of the best new outdoor living trends

From shape-shifting tables to fab fire pits, the latest outdoor furnishings offer style and (multi)function in equal measure. Here are some of our favourites

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ROCK ON
For several years now, weather-resistant faux versions of natural rattan have defined much outdoor furniture, at both the high end and the low. This season, that trompe l’oeil approach is making room for a more exuberant alternative: ultracolourful weaves. The German company Dedon, which has been at the fore of the synthetic-fibre trend with its trademarked woven finishes, is leading this one too, having commissioned the noted Milanese fashion, textile and accessories designer Lorenza Bozzoli to create the Fedro line, a set of vibrant ergonomic rockers designed for lounging, reading or tanning. Lightweight, stackable and boasting quick-drying foam headrests covered in Batyline fabric, the chairs balance on two narrow skids, allowing users to rock back and forth as they please. Their avian form, the company adds, inspired their color schemes, all of which are based on Latin American birds.
Fedro floor rockers by Dedon in Flamingo, Colibri and Quetzal, $715 each at studio b.

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OMBRÉ OUTDOORS
It’s not uncommon for fashion and beauty trends to influence home decor, but ombré in the garden? Believe it. And it works. The graduated shadings that have characterized many hairstyles and clothing designs in recent seasons have a natural home outdoors, where landscapes often exhibit similar tonal shifts. The most obvious way to incorporate ombré patterns is through textiles and upholstery: Cover a pair of large throw pillows in pastel or earthy examples, hang cabana drapes in cascading watery shades. Chain retailers such as Sears are also getting in on the act, offering charming ombré accents such as the party ware at left.
Ombré hurricane glass, $5.97, beverage dispenser, $19.97, double old-fashioned glass, $3.97, highball glass, $5.97 at Sears.

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PLAYING WITH FIRE
Summer or (especially) winter, firepits lend warmth and interest to outdoor spaces, making them increasingly popular in gardens. This new mainstream appeal has led to a revolution in their design: The latest versions, including clean-edged angular models with handsome rust finishes and modern-rustic styles with built-in wood storage, are as elegant as they are practical. That is hot.
Corten-steel Bento firepit by Paloform, $4,300 through www.paloform.com. Zero firepit by AK47, $5,740 at studio b.

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 HAUTE PICNIC
Elevate fried chicken and potato salad to champagne-and-caviar status this summer with a super-sleek update of the standard wooden picnic table. Based in Belgium, the outdoorfurniture company Extremis seems to have cornered the market when it comes producing haute picnic tables, such as the ultra-contemporary aluminum Hopper table seen here in white. Others in the Extremis lineup include the Marina table (designed by Bruno Fattorini & Partners and closer in look to those iconic versions dotting city parks) as well as the aptly named Picnik (designed by Dirk Wynants and Xavier Lust and available in a range of chic colours).
Hopper table by Extremis, $11,100 at studio b.

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THAT’S ALL FOLK
While this season’s interiors are being enlivened to a great degree by Moroccan and other North African prints, a decidely Slavic tint is colouring – literally – many outdoor accents. In the wake of the latest Anna Karenina film and Gérard Depardieu’s defection to Mother Russia, folklorictype patterns composed of bright, stylized flowers, foliage and other botanical motifs are animating everything from pillows to dish and serving ware, giving them a dash of dacha chic. Now, will this also be the summer that you finally get through War and Peace?
Patterned melamine serving tray, $7.99 at HomeSense.

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SECOND-TAKE TEAK
Although “reduce, reuse, recycle” became a guiding principle among many product and industrial designers some years ago, it hasn’t been all that common in the arena of outdoor furnishings. Until now. Toronto-based Andrew Richard Designs, for instance, has just introduced three new lines incorporating reclaimed teak. The company’s Vintage, Sleigh and Producer collections are all made with repurposed high-grade Indonesian teak that has undergone a 15-to-20-day drying-and-curing process. This helps to solidify the colour and remove moisture, ensuring that the wood is resistant to mould, expansion and contraction, rotting and splitting. The feel-good factor is a bonus.
Sleigh dining set (including table and four chairs), $6,375 at Andrew Richard Designs and other retailers (visit here for showrooms).

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STEELING HOME
If there is one ubiquitous material this season, it’s stainless steel, a metal more commonly associated with indoor kitchen appliances or, out of doors, barbecues and grills. As durable and easy to clean as it is, however, stainless also lends instant sophistication to a garden when adopted for other fixtures, be they outdoor seating sets or patio heaters. The four stainless-steel furniture lines released this year by Canada’s Hauser, for instance, are uniquely elegant, their electropolished finishes offering a smoother appearance than untreated stainless steel. Electropolishing also provides added protection against corrosion, discolouration and, if they’re poolside, both salt water and chlorine. Cannonball!
Wave club chairs, $599 each, loveseat, $899, cocktail table, $499, end table, $329 at Hauser stores in Ontario and Quebec or online.

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ELEGANCE UNDERFOOT
More than 20 years ago, Dedon pioneered the concept of the outdoor living room, “a place to be furnished with objects of the same quality and attention to design usually reserved for indoors.” Today, its luxurious Carpet line, designed by Michaela Schleypen, continues to set the standard when it comes to outdoor rugs, offering indoor-calibre oomph while remaining ultradurable. And its example, now widely embraced, has been followed by a range of suppliers. An especially stylish (and accessible) example this season: Korhani’s Canadian-made reversible rug, which is fashioned out of 100-per-cent UV-defying polypropylene and sports an elegant black-and-white pattern on one side and its inverse on the other. Though nice, those sisal mats just don’t seem to cut it any more.
78.75-by-118-inch Carpet rug by Dedon in Loop Gray, $4,710 at studio b.

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CLASSICS GONE WILD
Icons of modernism, the stools, chairs, sofas and tables in the LC line by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand were originally intended for indoor use. But that was 1928. In 2011, the Italian company Cassina, which produces Le Corbu’s furniture today, had the brilliant idea of making outdoor versions of the classic pieces and worked closely with the LC Foundation to maintain design integrity. Now available in Canada, the alfresco models have updated weather-resistant frames, each of which is signed and numbered; the cushions are covered in waterproof Sunbrella fabrics and stuffed with Ecofill, a quick-drying hollow fibre. Among his many aphorisms, Le Corbusier once said: “The home should be the treasure chest of living.” Now we can add the garden as well.
Outdoor Armchair, $5,200 at Italinteriors.

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EXTREME MULTIFUNCTION
Three-in-one garden tools. Two-sided outdoor carpets. It was inevitable that our modern mania for efficiency should extend to the backyard haven. Nonetheless, one of the neater manifestations to hit the market this season is this shape-shifting outdoor table consisting of four moving panels that can be transformed from a coffee/conversation table into a dining table posthaste. The centre of the table, moreover, can be turned into an ice bucket. Unfortunately, you still have to make your own margaritas.
Westbury Rectangular Adjustable Table, $249 at Home Depot.

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