The great outdoors
Make your summer living more special with this outdoor furniture.
NEW YORK (FORTUNE) -- Memorial Day is already a distant memory, and - calendar be damned! - summer is here.
The biggest trend this year: Outdoor spaces that feel like your living room with a better breeze. Think candles and chandeliers hanging from trees, couch-style seating, and dining sets that encourage lingering meals on long summer nights.
If you want to escape the traditional confines of your deck, move your party away from the house and into the shade -- drape fabric over a few branches for an instant canopy.
Here, our favorite sources for easy outdoor living spaces. (Lemonade not included.)
Henry Hall Designs
For a modern, luxe take on classic wicker, skip those sticky woven plastic models and head straight for Henry Hall Designs' Coast collection.
Available in dark or light brown, the furniture is made from a fiber called CoaXXS, which feels like rope but stands up to inclement conditions and hard use. (Don't worry about stains; it wipes clean.) Underneath it all is a sturdy aluminum frame.
Also check out the other lines from the company, including graceful wave-shaped lounge chairs and mod teak furniture.
(Chair, $1400; ottoman, $800 henryhalldesigns.com for dealers)
Pottery Barn has delved deep into full-on living rooms for the porch or yard recently. Choose from traditional dining sets in cast iron or hardwood, or assemble a cushy sectional, complete with weather-resistant cushions.
The Chesapeake collection is especially extensive - standouts, aside from the afore-mentioned sectional, include picnic tables, double-wide chaise lounges, cabinets that turn your grill into an outdoor kitchen, and an "oversized lounger with canopy" - a four-poster platform bed similar to those featured on beaches at hotels like the Mandarin Oriental in Miami.
Drape it with sheer material for a shady retreat.
(Sectional pieces, from $199; Lounger with canopy, $1,599, potterybarn.com)
His 1966 collection is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and its impact on outdoor furniture is still clear.
But for a more organic, artistic effect, trade in the tubular frame and mesh seats for laser-cut sheet-aluminum. The Topiary collection includes chairs, a table and a stool, all in natural colors that almost blend into the greenery.
Schultz says of the collection, "I wanted to design a chair that looks like a shrub pruned to look like a chair," and he succeeded.
We love the full-sized table and armchairs, but if you're filling a smaller space (think balcony instead of deck), consider the café collection, which pairs a scaled down chair with the Topiary cutouts and a dainty flower-shaped table, all in easy-care stainless steel and aluminum.
Smith and Hawken
Smith and Hawken, the quintessential purveyor of gardening tools, has long made some of the best mass-market outdoor furniture around, and you can't go wrong with their Avignon collection.
The chairs have gracefully (and comfortably) curved backs, the tables are available in a variety of sizes to seat a crowd or an intimate gathering, and everything pairs beautifully with the company's classic market umbrellas. (Also a nice pick: the more modern Hampton chairs and table, which fold down quickly for easy moving and storage.)
The solid teak will last a lifetime with proper care, and the prices show it.
Luckily for penny pinchers, Smith and Hawken recently went into partnership with Target, which now sells a line of everything from fountains and decorative ducks to, you guessed it, lawn furniture.
The Glensheer collection craftsman-style hardwood, and checks in at a very reasonable $299 for two armchairs. (Avignon dining armchairs run $495 each.) Besides, you can't beat stocking up on charcoal and seating at the same store.
(Avignon dining side chairs, $425; table, $1,135.00, smithandhawken.com)