One of the most important decisions you’ll make when shopping for outdoor furniture is whether or not to have cushions, which add comfort but come with maintenance hassles, because they tend to get dirty and wet.
One option: Avoid cushions altogether. “When we design urban spaces, we really don’t advise a lot of cushions because of all the soot in the air,” which has a tendency to collect on the cushions, Mr. Klausing said. “We try to select furniture that’s comfortable without cushions, or that has mesh netting or something like that.”
This approach works well on elevated terraces, said Amber Freda, a New York-based landscape designer: “On a rooftop or terrace, a lot of people don’t want to worry about the cushions blowing around.” (Ties, of course, can help with that.)
But not all designers are willing to go without. “I love my outdoor furniture to be super comfortable — that’s really the No. 1 ingredient,” Mr. Bullard said. “I tend to use a lot of upholstery. We’ve got so many unbelievable options today, with all these amazing indoor-outdoor fabrics that are very soft and pliable, and come in a million colors and patterns, so you can really give character to a space like never before.”