The clouds have parted and Summer is shining through Spring's stony skies.

Like the blooming flowers that bring bright colors to gardens, the new crop of patio and pool furniture is fresh with vibrant hues.

"With the outdoor room concept continuing to expand, people's mindset continues to be a vacation in the backyard. They don't want it to be boring. They want some brightness in their lives," says Jack Sproehnle, purchasing manager at Watson's.

They want seating to be comfortable "” cushions are deeper, seats are wider with a nod to indoor furniture. And they want it to move "” chairs bounce, swivel, rock, recline and rotate. Even grandma's glider is back.

"I've seen more changes with fabric colors ... brighter colors, more blues, reds," says Sproehnle. "Everything has been taupe, neutral, kind of boring. You'd walk in and see a sea of brown in the Midwest. Now a lot of stores are trying to brighten the look, showing oranges, reds, blues, greens."

Crisp shades of blue and green are expected to be favorites this year, says Jackie Hirschhaut of the American Home Furnishings Alliance in High Point, N.C. "But for those who already have cushions in neutral tones, a pop of red or orange is a quick and easy way to brighten your space."


This year's blue has a more tropical twist, and yellows and grays are pairing in new pieces. Look for a lot of red and blue here, says Tom Geerkin of Sun Spot Pool & Patio. "The rest of the country may be trending to yellows and grays, but that's not always consistent with what you find here," he says.

Forest green remains a staple at popular-priced pieces, but softer shades of sage and celadon are a better complement to this season's neutral which is gray. It shows up on polished steel, hand-forged iron, weathered teak and driftwood shades of wicker, says Hirschhaut.

Bar-height seating is still popular, but the newest trend is toward something between regular table height, about 29 inches, and bar height, 40-42 inches. The new counter-height pieces fall more between 34-36 inches, says Sproehnle.

Sunbrella and other solution-dyed fabrics that stand up to sun without fading still rule. Geometric patterns are being pushed out by solids and stripes in new color combos, plus florals paired with wicker. The greening of outdoor furniture is still in the picture as well, says Geerkin. Manufacturers are using a marine-grade polymer that contains more than 30 percent recycled resin, like plastic milk jugs, to make eco-friendly frames that stand up to the elements without fading, thanks to an infusion of color in the manufacturing process. "It's made for durability, and if it does get bumped or scratched the color is retained," he says, an improvement over the early versions of recycled frames.
Tempered glass tabletops: Clean regularly with a soft cloth, mild detergent, warm water. Buff dry with lint-free cloth.