Our Primrose Living range has arrived, ready to be premium-delivered to your garden.
Born from a desire to bring high-quality materials, modern design and adaptable practicality to our customers, our furniture experts designed the perfect range for the social garden.
We wanted to make collections that can fit the modern garden, sliding into any space and adaptable for both those planned and not-so-planned garden moments. And our Primrose Living story begins over 12 years ago…
In the beginning
That long-forgotten age of handshakes and hugs
The year was 2008, and Primrose.co.uk was a smaller organisation than it is today.
Starting to gain a foothold in the world of garden furniture, our buyers and directors were growing frustrated with the rush to the bottom in terms of quality and prices that didn’t match up with performance.
Keen to stem the flow of inferior furniture, some of them set out on a journey to bring high-quality and great-looking pieces to our occasionally sunny shores.
Their journey took them across countless leagues, seas and mountains proving no barrier until they reached their nirvana, where they found manufacturers who held themselves to higher standards than the rest.
Working together, the buyers and manufacturers combined their knowledge of quality materials and expert workmanship to create a range of furniture they’d use and want to be seen in their own gardens.
Or time lapse
12 years of prototypes, design amends and a last-minute name change later, Primrose Living came into being.
PE (polyethylene) rattan, wrapped around a powder-coated aluminium frame (double waterproof), was chosen to resist the UK’s changeable climate while continuing to look great year after year.
That rattan is a half weave, a cut above the more common flat weave, and double woven for increased longevity and comfort.
And each item in the range is available in either natural-look or stone colours to fit any garden decor style.
Every glass tabletop is tempered and 5mm thick, selected to be thicker than the industry standard for increased safety and to withstand everyday life and use.
All of the furniture’s feet are adjustable too to suit all patios, decking and lawns.
Soft-spun polyester cushions filled with foam are made for outdoor comfort. The seats emulate armchairs so you can put your feet up outdoors as comfortably as you would indoors.
With plenty of legroom too
Footstools are equally squashy, designed to tuck away when unneeded or brought out when you’ve got extra guests.
Bring all of that together and you’ve got a range we couldn’t wait to bring to you. Though we had to thanks to those last few quality checks we couldn’t resist doing.
Garden dining, lounging and bistro sets are just a click or two away, and order with premium delivery (another feature created specially for Primrose Living) to enjoy your set without having to lift a finger for assembly or furniture manoeuvring. They’ll even take away the packaging.
Our teams are asked a lot of questions about garden furniture, from the customer service teams to the marketing inbox and beyond. To help everyone who’s interested in buying garden furniture whether from us or elsewhere, we’ve gathered together all of the top questions and tips together in one place so you don’t have to hunt high and low to find the answers that you need.
We’ve even made a handy table of contents so you can skip to the answer you want!
PE rattan is a synthetic rattan – instead of being made from a spiky tree grown in the tropics (read here for all things natural rattan), it’s made from polyethylene, a lightweight plastic. The benefits to this are it lasts longer and, aside from some natural expanding and contracting, will stay looking as good as it did when it arrived for years, even when left outside. There are also types of PE rattan that look just like the real thing, which means you can have a natural look without having to worry about the rot problem that plagues natural rattan (to the point it’s not often available in the UK due to the damp climate).
This is an example of double-woven half weave PE rattan
If you’re sat there thinking that rattan looks like wicker, you’re half right – rattan furniture is made using the wicker technique, but wicker furniture can be made from all sorts of material.
What are the different types of rattan weave?
There are three main types of rattan weave – flat, half and full – and each of those can be single, double, or even triple woven. Flat weave is the cheapest and most widely available, being very flat in appearance with sharp-ish edges due to the thinness of the material.
Half weave is a middle ground between the expensive fully-rounded weave and the cheap flat weave, having some of the texture of fully-rounded without being as heavy and bulky, while more comfortable to sit on than flat weave.
And fully-rounded weave is what you get if the rattan used is completely cylindrical, as though it’s made of thick string – often used for decorative edges rather than the whole furniture piece due to the cost and weight.
Whether it’s single, double or triple refers to the number of strips used for the weaves – in the example image above they’re all single woven, while if they were double you’d see twice the number of brown strips (like the photo above this diagram).
Can I leave my furniture uncovered, outside, all year?
That all depends on the furniture’s material and treatment! If it’s pressure-treated timber, powder-coated steel or aluminium it’ll last for years, often to the point of being certified against rust or rot in UK weather, but if there’s no mention of any material treatments you’ll need to get a cover or be prepared to move your furniture in bad weather.
Uncovered garden furniture, seen here in its natural habitat
If the furniture’s description mentions weatherproofing it’ll be resistant to weathering from the rain, but might not cope as well if it’s left soaking for days on end. It also depends on what you want your furniture to look like – treated wood may still darken or lighten over the years if a new oil or stain isn’t applied, but it’ll still stay sturdy and strong in every season when left outside.
You’ll probably want to move/cover any cushions when not in use, simply so they’re dry and ready to go whenever you next want to take a seat outdoors.
Do I need to buy special wood treatments?
If you want your furniture to look exactly like it did when you bought it, you’ll want to buy a treatment/stain so you can preserve the wood’s colour. You don’t need to break the bank though, there are plenty of affordable wood treatments that will keep colour or re-apply the weather resistance of your furniture.
A prime example of wood-coloured wood
Oils replace the natural oils of your wood and restore natural colour, while stains come in different colours depending on your needs and offer protection from greying and discolouring. Both give weatherproofing and water resistance to wood, but stains last longer before needing to be re-applied
How do I oil garden furniture?
Use a brush and go with the grain (along the lines rather than against them). Use an oil that matches your wood type – a lot of garden furniture will be hardwood like oak, teak or mahogany, but pine, fir and redwood are all softwood, so take note of your wood type before you go buying.
Imagine this is furniture rather than a block of wood and you’ve got the right idea
Try not to use so much that it drips off your wood – you want it to soak in rather than run off – and you can apply it once or twice a year without issue.
How do I keep my garden furniture clean?
It’s pretty straightforward, a damp cloth will take the worst of it off though you can use sugar soap and a non-abrasive scrubber if you want to get in deeper. If you want to get fancy with it, you can often use car cleaning products on metal furniture. A cover will keep off the birds and their leavings, but you don’t need to worry about getting special cleaners if you end up with a bit of muck – a good scrub with washing up liquid and a hosing off will see you right in most circumstances.
Try not to get too wet with it though, as the more water you allow to seep into your furniture the more you might chip away at any water-resisting properties your furniture has. It’ll be treated for rain showers rather than baths!
How do I protect my garden furniture over winter?
This depends on the material. Wood will weather but most of it will be protected against effects like rot, while aluminium will be unaffected by snow and cold. Materials will contract and expand, but shouldn’t suffer material degrading. You may want to brush off heavy snow to stop any melted water seeping into cracks, refreezing then expanding to cause splinters/deeper cracks, but a cover will also keep the worst of it away.
To read more about protecting your furniture over winter, check out this post from a few years ago that’s still valid today.
Can my garden furniture go on grass? Or artificial grass?
Yes, but the grass under the feet is going to get squashed – you can’t beat physics. If you move the furniture often the grass will bounce back, both real and artificial, but if the furniture is both used and left in the same place for a couple of weeks you’re going to start seeing marks in the lawn and bent artificial grass.
Furniture on grass without issue
Real grass needs light too, so if it’s made to be in shade due to furniture it’ll start to yellow. In the height of summer that yellowing can happen quickly – within a couple of days at its fastest – while in cooler months you’ll get away with it for a bit longer. To fix yellowing, move the furniture and give the grass a good watering.
Can garden furniture be painted?
Absolutely! If it’s wood and treated you’ll need to give it a little sand first to take any varnish off, and give it a good clean to remove any dust. After that, just make sure your paint fits the material and you’re good to go.
We suspect this may be a pallet, but it’s still wood being painted
Choose the right paint and start slowly, working section by section until you’ve covered every part you want to with at least one coat of paint. Work over a sheet so you don’t drip paint on your patio or lawn, and use masking tape to avoid painting anything you don’t want to. For more detail, read our furniture painting guide.
Will steel garden furniture rust?
Rarely. Most steel garden furniture is actually powder-coated or treated in some way to stop this from happening, so keep an eye out for that in the product descriptions or spec to make sure you’re getting a quality article. That coating will usually be guaranteed for a few years, but if your steel furniture is scraped against each other that coating might get chipped. If that happens, it’ll be worth looking into a protective paint or coating you can apply at home to get that waterproofing back (it’s water that causes rust).
For more detail on whether metal garden furniture will rust and what to do about it, check out this post to read about prevention techniques and alternatives to steel.
How long will my garden furniture last?
From a minimum of a year to upwards of 20 – it all depends on the treatments your furniture has had, plus the amount of care you give it. Our Churnet Valley range is pressure treated to prevent rot for up to 20 years, while the powder-coated steel of the Hectare ranges means it’ll resist rust and weathering for several years.
All of our furniture is guaranteed for at least two years against manufacturing faults, so even if you see some weathering or discolouration the furniture still won’t fall apart.
Which garden furniture is best?
The best furniture is the sets and pieces that fit your needs. If it’s going in a conservatory you don’t need to worry about water resistance, but weatherproofing will still help with sunlight discolouration.
If it’s going outside, what kind of decor are you looking for? Both wood and metal furniture can be treated to last for years so that element’s covered, and you’ll see sets covering a wide range of prices in either material.
Woodis considered more traditional, while metalor plasticwould be more modern by comparison. And rattansits between the two, being a traditional manufacturing method featuring modern materials.
Generally, the more expensive the ‘better’ the furniture – better in that there’s more weatherproofing, more water resistance, sturdier builds and higher quality materials so it’ll all last for longer before needing to get a new set or repairs.
Look for tempered-glass tabletops too
On our site, the best garden furniture is the new primrose living range, because we’ve designed it specifically to be better than other rattan ranges on the market for both look and longevity.
However, if you’re not looking for rattan then you’re best off checking our garden furniture page and refining by material/price to find the set that’s right for you.
Is your garden a space you haven’t had the time to really enjoy before? Perhaps this is the first time you’re wondering how to make outdoor space work for you and your family. Below we have a basic guide to garden furniture for anyone looking to get started with creating a living space outside for the first time.
Finding A Use For Space
The first thing to think about is how your space will be used. Don’t be put off by thinking your garden is too small. A lot can be done to make a nice spot to relax, dine, play or grow. If you want to be eating outside with the family, for example, invest in a good dining set and some cover like a gazebo or parasol. If space is limited maybe consider a bistro set? You could be enjoying breakfast and coffee surrounded by plants taking in the morning sun; a good start to the day for most of us!
Bigger gardens can have multiple functions sitting alongside one another. For smaller spaces, it’s best to pick one main function and create your design around this. Start with the primary function of the space and invest in something that will deliver just that.
Details That Make It Your Own
Look at the rooms that fill your home. What are your favourite things about them? What bits spark happy memories or facilitate something you love doing? Is it a comfy chair in the corner of the living room where you love to settle down with a book? Maybe the crate full of games you dive into with the kids each weekend? Or the kitchen table where you serve up dishes to family and friends?
Think about the items of furniture which allow these moments of happiness and how they can translate outside. You could create a reading nook for warm summer evenings filled with weather-resistant cushions, or a play area dedicated to mayhem filled games with the kids, or maybe a fire pit where you can take your cooking in new directions. Find the items that will transform your outdoor space into an extension of your home.
Final aesthetic details can really make a space feel special and this doesn’t need to be anything expensive. A simple set of solar-powered fairy lights are cheap, hassle-free and can add a new layer of interest. So when looking for accessories for your outdoors try to keep in mind the temperamental weather and shop for items that are weather resistant. Items that can stay outside year-round or quickly packed away are ideal and will make life outside that much easier.
There are so many things you can add to help inject your personality into your space and make it special to your purpose. Mirrors, lights, wall art, water features, screening and garden ornaments are all things you can consider when setting up outdoor space. When picking anything out, think back to the original function you identified and think about how this accessory elevates that experience.
Scott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.
The bistro has humble beginnings on the streets of France but today its popularity is evident worldwide as a common feature of our gardens and high streets. Bistro tables and dining sets remain one of the easiest ways to bring a touch of Parisian style to your home or garden. Read up on the story of the Bistro and get some ideas to inspire your outdoor space below.
What makes a bistro table set?
Today there are many styles of bistro sets available. They range from the classic decorative metal sets to the more contemporary styles in wooden or rattan. But what makes the bistro style unique? The design stems from its origins on narrow Parisian streets.
Today we often see Bistro sets spilling onto pavements outside restaurants or cafes with people enjoying an alfresco meal or a coffee. The original tables were designed to be small enough for just two people to comfortably share whilst allowing plenty of space for people to pass by on the pavement.
Some common traits are found in the materials of Bistro tables with the original designs having marble tops and metal legs. The onset of the industrial revolution meant the faster production of iron which made it much easier to add decorative legs. Both table and chair design evolved further to be folded away for easy storage; this was ideal as it meant larger restaurants could seat more people, filling their outside spaces as much as possible.
The popularity of bistro’s through history meant that copies of designs sprung up everywhere once their success began to show. It’s hard to trace an “original” design but we can recognise them by these basic features.
History of Bistro
So how did bistro restaurants begin? The original bistros developed in the apartment basements of Paris. Landlords would open up their kitchens as a secondary source of income, selling cheap and hearty foods to the paying public.
The social aspect of bistros meant that places like the Cafe Procope in Paris (which still operates today) became integral meeting points for the artistic and literary figures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Imagine Rousseau thinking on his social contract or Diderot compiling his Encyclopédie.
Often these set-ups would be organised outside buildings in the streets, facilitating the need for a smaller style of dining set to allow people to still pass by. This close proximity with the street made bistro’s synonymous with “people watching” as you couldn’t help but notice the rush of city life as it all passed by your table!
We’re not completely certain of where the word bistro comes from, but there are some stories which offer possible explanations. The most popular idea is that the word originated during the 1815 Russian Occupation of Paris, where Russian cossacks would cry “Bystra! Bystra!” to the restaurateurs. This roughly translates as “Hurry! Hurry!” which fits in with the developing style of the bistro as serving “fast food”. Whether this is true or not, we do know that the word Bistro entered both the French and Russian languages with the same meaning.
Another explanation is that the word originates from the French term “Bistreau” which translates as an innkeeper – more believable maybe, but certainly less romantic than Russian Cossacks in a hurry for their lunch.
What’s for Lunch?
Historically the food served at bistros reflected what was available locally or left over from landlords after serving their primary tenants. Menus were often made up with simple foods like soups, sandwiches, salads and crepes, served alongside coffee and wine and would likely change day to day depending on availability of ingredients.
This focus on food that’s simple, fast and relatively cheap has continued to the present day, though perhaps with a gentrified twist and a price tag to match in some chain stores…
How can I use a bistro set in my garden?
A bistro set is perfect for creating a dining space within a smaller section of your garden. If your outdoor space is a patio or balcony then these sets are ideal for adding a touch of style whilst saving on important floor space. Fold away chairs are perfect for dining on your own whilst having that extra seat available for guests and you can create a cosy space for yourself that’s perfect for morning breakfasts. What could be better than warm coffee and breakfast on the balcony, Parisian style.
Why not use a bistro set as an excuse to partition off a part of your garden and create a cosy dining area? To recreate that feeling of on-the-street closeness with life you could add interest around your table set. Perhaps a series of potted plants to add interest at differing heights? Or maybe position your set near some bird feeders so you can dine with the sound of birds singing each day and enjoy being closer to the wildlife in your garden. Maybe add some candles to the table and you’ve got a pleasant spot to spend a summer evening dining out or wrapped up with a good book.
From the streets of sixteenth-century Paris to your own back garden – a bistro set offers the perfect spot for hearty food and a good cup of coffee. With a style that’s made its way around the world bistro sets are an easy way to add a little Parisian style to your outdoor space.