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How to Shop for a Conversation Set

Coffee Talk

For many, a conversation set is just another name for patio furniture. For others, it describes a class of coordinated furniture that facilitates a conversation and can include mostly anything: chairs, loungers, couches, sectionals and so on. In this way a "conversation set" is really more a state of mind, and the perfect thing to chat about around a new conversation set.

More Outdoor

The one thing that brings this furniture category together is that it's designed for outdoor use. On the lawn, by the pool, at the beach, and yes - even on the patio - if it's intentionally being exposed to the elements it qualifies as a conversation set.

Wicker, wire and wood are common build materials that stand up well to the sun, wind and rain, and can also be weatherproofed for added protection. Plastic is also an option. Many sets are now made of an HDPE polymer that is resistant to insects, mold and salt spray, and also won't fade.

Although the name suggests a certain level of coordination, conversation sets can be organized in a more eclectic and piecemeal fashion, or be boiled down to a couple Adirondack chairs with a table between them. There are no rules when it comes to outdoor furniture. It's already outside, and that's about as crazy as furniture can get.

Style/Design

Outdoor furniture styles go from rustic to ultramodern with a lot of stops along the way. Tropical and safari styles often use wicker or rattan designs to evoke thoughts of quiet evenings on the savanna, while teak pieces exude a casual elegance that somehow manages to capture the idea of durable luxury.

Some sets come with options in cushion-fabric color and patterns that further increase the variety of designs. Choosing the perfect design will depend on the size and location of the space and the style of the home. A beautiful wrought-iron set with small legs may work very well in a solarium or on a patio, yet the feet may slip through the cracks of a slatted wooden deck.

The intensity of the weather is another concern. Conversation sets are designed with durability in mind, but people living in exceptionally harsh environments may want to opt for metal or plastic over wicker or wood. Remember: It's all fun and games until the lawn furniture takes flight during a tropical storm.

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