Warm temperatures recently are inspiration enough to start thinking of languid lunches on the back deck, and new furniture trends show the backyard is indeed becoming a popular summer sanctuary.

“One of the hot trends this season is to bring luxuries from the indoors out,” says Eco Outdoor’s Katie Rowley. “Think large outdoor sofas with oversized cushions, beautifully soft outdoor fabrics and attention to details in the craftsmanship such as exposed seam stitching and stunning timber joinery. These details in outdoor furniture provide a seamless transition from indoor areas out.”

Versatility is top of the mind for many people too, says Wendy Westbury from Domayne, Fortitude Valley. “Something like the Domayne Direct table is very versatile; it can be placed alone or joined together to create a larger square or longer rectangle,” she says. “It can be matched with a large range of chairs to suit your style.”

If space is at a premium, consider flexible arrangements or adjustable furniture to cater for small or large groups depending on the occasion. “Extension tables are a great way to save and maximise space, and don’t forget chairs that stack, great for storing and an easy solution if you have extra guests,” says Westbury.

While functional and practical top the list for most, Cosh Living general manager Vanessa Forrest says pop-culture also appears to influence trends. “The Eclipse day bed by Gloster is very popular and the only thing I can put that down to is (TV show) Big Brother,” she says. “They have a similar style on the show – although ours are around $6000 to $8000 – but a lot of people are asking for that sort of thing.”

Beyond looks, however, modern materials are the key to outdoor furniture’s longevity, says Forrest. “Outdoor furniture fabrics have come a long way, but the most important thing is to get a quick-dry foam (for your cushions),” she says.

“You don’t want to replace foam, so you can also get seam sealants which prevent cushions getting wet or choose water-resistant fabric.”

When choosing fabric, look for a solution-dyed olefin (acrylic fabric) where the colourants have been added during production. The fabric is water-resistant, the fibres colourfast and it discourages mould and mildew.

Starting with your backyard as a blank canvas may be a daunting prospect but Eco Outdoor’s Katie Rowley says the most important thing to consider when planning and furnishing an outdoor space is to decide how it will be used.

“It may be a quiet, relaxing outdoor sanctuary or an extension of your kitchen and living area creating an open plan indoor outdoor entertaining space. Perhaps it’s a balcony or small inner city courtyard used when guests come around, or a large sweeping garden with different break-out areas.

“Once you’ve settled on how you like to use the space, choose finishes and furniture that complement your lifestyle. A large dining table with benches is great for entertainers and large dinners with family and friends, while comfortable outdoor sofas and low coffee tables are perfect for relaxed entertaining with tapas style meals.”

Be guided by trends, says Rowley, but consider your personal style first, taking into account as well that you’ll want the look to last. “Work with the existing aesthetic inside your home and carry design cues from the indoors out,” she says.

“Select outdoor furniture that ties in with home furnishings for a beautifully designed, comfortable and practical outdoor space.”

Beautiful design for outdoor living can be achieved quite affordably, says Kmart buyer Rebekah Hasler. “People are treating their outdoor area as an extension of the inside of their home and becoming more creative with how they treat the area. They are not afraid to experiment,” she says.

Mixing and matching furniture is one way to create a versatile look that can be refreshed again and again, by changing cushions, mixing chair styles around a plain table or choosing chairs in the same style but different colours.