Embracing the Elements: Top SA Outdoor Living Trends for Summer 2023/24

It’s warming up and there’s nothing better than SA summer living. It’s time to start sprucing up your outdoor living spaces…

(Pictured above: Vondom Tulum outdoor furniture collection by Eugeni Quitllet)

The weather is warming up, and soon you’ll be hosting fabulous afternoon cocktail parties and al fresco dinners on your patio. We’ve done the leg work and rounded up some of the top SA outdoor decor and design trends for the upcoming season to inspire you. 

Trend: Organic Forms and Colour

We’re seeing Mother Nature’s influence yet again in outdoor decor trends for 2023/24. Charlotte Ashton of La Grange Interiors has noticed a resurgence of earthy hues. “Natural and neutral colour palettes inspired by nature, such as earthy browns, greens and blues, have been popular choices for outdoor furniture, cushions and accessories,” says Ashton.  

Chairs, tables and loungers for patio spaces are also mirroring the sinuous, undulating curves recognisable throughout nature. “When it comes to outdoor furniture, we’re seeing strong organic silhouettes come to the fore,” says Ivone Azevedo, owner of Core Furniture. Mimicking nature and highlighted by soft curves, this style embraces simplicity while focusing on functionality. A collection that signals this trend perfectly is Vondom’s new Milos range (below) that embraces organic forms beautifully.”

Vondom Milos outdoor furniture collection by Jean-Marie Massaud
Vondom Milos outdoor furniture collection by Jean-Marie Massaud

Trend: Outdoor Rooms 

Take the party outdoors and create an entertainment space near your kitchen, barbeque or swimming pool. Focus on making this an extension of your home. Think big, cosy furniture arranged around a fire pit, with feature lighting, decorative weatherproof rugs, and plenty of plants to soften and cool your outdoor living room.  

“An outdoor space becomes special through thoughtful design; blending nature and comfort. It’s a canvas for relaxation and connection where each element, from furniture to greenery, creates a harmonious sanctuary for days outdoors,” notes Johann de Waal of Kare Design in Johannesburg’s Kramerville Design District.  

Azevedo has seen a change in the ways that materials are used in outdoor furniture. “Forget about clunky wooden furniture that requires permanent maintenance,” he says. “We’re talking high-performance aluminium and waste plastics here. Outdoor fabrics are outperforming their indoor equivalents with technology resulting in high performance, making them water-, sun- and everything-proof. But these fabrics’ durability doesn’t compromise on comfort, and they’re soft to the touch.”

SORRENTO Chillout Verandah
SORRENTO Chillout Verandah

Trend: Woven  Materials and Layered Textures

In keeping with earthy, organic and sustainable outdoor decor trends, layered textures and woven materials are also seeing a resurgence in popularity. Ashleigh Blackman of Anatomy Design recommends mixing different materials to create a unique statement. “Playing with interesting materials that contrast, such as steel, rope and terrazzo is an exciting way to create a layered outdoor living aesthetic that’s sophisticated yet comfortable.” She also suggests using matching tones to create symmetry between your inside and outside spaces. “Outdoor living can be fun and light. Colour is a great way to connect outdoor spaces to the internal narrative.”  

Core Furniture’s collections by Kenneth Cobonpue exhibit a clever use of woven, weatherproof materials, says Azevedo. “Traditional craft is executed in contemporary ways using materials like polyethylene that will endure the harsh South African elements. Woven pieces often add a sculptural element to an outdoor space and a feeling of texture and layering.”

Core Furniture’s collections by Kenneth Cobonpue

On a budget or need a quick fix for a last-minute garden party? We’ve got you covered.

Grab That Brush

A lick of fresh paint can quickly revive tired outdoor walls and furniture and is an easy DIY fix. We love the Annie Sloan range of Chalk Paint in blush hues of Mediterranean pink matched with furniture in fresh summertime aquamarine.

Annie Sloan Indoor Outdoor plaster effect wall painted with Chalk Paint in Scandinavian Pink and Paloma, chairs with Chalk Paint in Florence, Graphite and Old White
Annie Sloan Indoor Outdoor plaster effect wall painted with Chalk Paint in Scandinavian Pink and Paloma, chairs with Chalk Paint in Florence, Graphite and Old White

Refresh Your Garden

Ensure that your garden is always neat and tidy and replace thirsty alien plant species with our beautiful local plant options. Ashton recommends drought-tolerant plantings. “Given the water scarcity concerns in certain regions of South Africa, drought-tolerant landscaping using native and low-water plants has gained popularity. There has been a growing emphasis on using sustainable materials and practices in outdoor design. This includes incorporating native plants and implementing water-saving irrigation systems.”

Clean the Pool

Sometimes, all that’s needed is a quick tidy up. Make sure that garden implements are stored out of sight. Keep patio flagstones and surfaces clean and leaf-free and ensure your pool is sparkling because you’ll be spending a lot of time in and around it, says Ashton. “Poolside areas can be designed as luxurious retreats. Use comfortable loungers, umbrellas, and cabana-style seating to create inviting spaces.” 


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