A Guide To Modular Outdoor Furniture
Written by Neighbor Editorial Team | @neighboroutdoor | Opens in a new window. |
The benefits of modular furniture—especially for the outdoors.
Modular furniture is furniture that can be broken down into separate pieces of furniture, usually called modules, that can be combined and arranged to create one complete design.
Since it can be challenging to find the perfect furniture pieces to suit the size, shape, style and needs of your outdoor space modular outdoor furniture is a convenient solution. By arranging pieces to fit your space, you can design a versatile outdoor layout to enjoy and build on for a long time.
Keep reading to learn more about modular furniture design, including the pros and cons, common materials among modular furniture and Neighbor's modular outdoor collections.
Modular outdoor furniture
First introduced in the 1940s by American furniture designer Harvey Probber, modular furniture isn’t new, but it certainly has its place in modern, contemporary furniture design. Modular furniture is ideal for an outdoor living space because each yard or outdoor space is unique in size and shape and seating often requires more flexibility to accommodate any number of guests. Different modules can be connected or separated and arranged in a number of ways to accommodate a wide range of design styles and outdoor seating needs.
Though modular furniture can resemble traditional, modern, or luxury furniture, the structure of modular furniture is where these pieces differ. Modular sofas and sectionals are some of the most common types of modular outdoor furniture pieces. A modular outdoor sectional or sofa can be arranged out in a layout that creates more space for additional guests, or formed into a more compact design for maximum comfort and intimacy in smaller groups or solo settings. In most cases, a sofa made up of 3 modules, for example, can be rearranged into a loveseat with a chaise on either side, or remain as a three-seater sofa. Modular sectionals include a corner piece that connects middle pieces and end pieces.
Customizable sectionals, like Neighbor’s modular outdoor sectional, can be purchased with two, three, four or pieces or more. You can arrange the sofa or sectional with popular options being an L-shape with the corner piece toward the left or right side, a symmetrical L-shape with two modules on either side of the corner piece, or in a U-shape. Our teak outdoor sectional is also customizable with the option of a teak armrest or cushion arm rest.
Generally designed with a sleek and timeless style, many modular furniture pieces are made to fit the modern home. When it comes to outdoor patio furniture, there are certain materials, like wood and weather-proof fabric, that are particularly beneficial.
The most common material used in modular outdoor furniture, due to its appearance and natural properties that make it ideal for both design and function. Wood can fit nearly any design style; it’s strong and durable enough to create structurally-sound pieces, and certain woods are naturally weather-resistant. Teak wood is a favorite in modular furniture design and known as one of the best materials for outdoor furniture. This wood has a beautiful, natural warmth, complements contemporary backyard design, and is resistant to water, rot, and damage from insects. At Neighbor, we choose to use teak wood in our modular furniture. It allows for minimalist design, supports strong, durable module structures, naturally makes an outdoor space more inviting, and is practical for an outdoor space exposed to the elements.
The hardware used in modular outdoor furniture must be strong, durable and resistant to rusting or degrading in harsh weather conditions. Because individual modules are combined to create one modular furniture piece, it’s particularly important that the hardware holding these modules together is solid and secure. Neighbor furniture features marine grade hardware made to withstand exposure to the open ocean and maintain exceptional structural integrity.
Outdoor furniture must be able to withstand the elements: sun, rain, wind, and snow in colder regions. That includes the cushions. For modular seating, like modular sectionals or sofas, choosing cushions with durable materials that won’t be damaged by rain, moisture and exposure to UV rays is essential. Sunbrella® is an excellent outdoor cushion material that we feature in all of our modular seating designs. Sunbrella is a leading performance fabric in outdoor furniture, due to its strength, resistance to water, mold and mildew growth, UV protection, fade resistance, variety of colors and designs, and soft, comfortable texture.Quality materials help you maintain a fresh setup through seasons, for different events, and with inevitable changes in style and design preference.
Cleaning modular outdoor furniture
Modular outdoor furniture designs are simple and sleek, making them easier to clean and maintain without putting in too much effort or maneuvering around uneven edges or textures. For the most part, modular outdoor furniture can be cleaned with a simple wiping down to remove spills and stains, or by using a dry brush to remove dust and debris. Neighbor’s teak outdoor furniture can be wiped down with a sponge or soft-bristle brush and a solution of mild soap and water if necessary. Learn more about how to clean teak outdoor furniture. Sunbrella cushions are made to repel water, which means spills can be easily blotted with a clean cloth. Cushions that fit the modular design of a sofa or sectional have surfaces easily accessible for cleaning.
Pros and cons of modular outdoor furniture
All types of furniture and furniture materials have unique pros and cons. It’s important to weigh your options and consider the different characteristics of any furniture style and how it’ll add to or take away from your space before deciding on the right furniture pieces.
Adaptability - The most obvious benefit of modular furniture is that it is adaptable. You won’t have to replace your sofa or sectional to accommodate changes at home. If your family grows and you need more space, you move to a new home with a smaller or larger outdoor space, or you’re simply ready for a fresh design to satisfy your changing style, modular furniture can be reorganized and rearranged with ease. With modular furniture, you don’t have to choose between an outdoor design meant for entertainment and hosting friends and family, or a design meant for cozy, quiet seclusion. Modular furniture design can be as compact or as spread out as needed to accommodate a few people, or to make room where additional guests can relax comfortably without feeling cramped.
Sustainability - With modular furniture you won’t have to toss and replace your furniture to create a new design for your outdoor space, or to satisfy new needs in your home. Modular furniture offers a level of sustainability that allows you to create new furniture shapes and patio layouts by simply rearranging the pieces you already have, instead of purchasing new ones. Modular furniture design helps you maximize enjoyment of your outdoor setup while minimizing wasted materials and eliminating the need to throw away perfectly good furniture pieces that no longer fit your space.
Effective use of space - Every square foot of space is valuable in your outdoor patio or balcony. Furniture pieces that are bulky or have an odd shape tend to occupy more floor space and are relatively incapable of being positioned next to other pieces without compromising design. Modular furniture pieces are made to maximize usable space with designs that fit like a puzzle piece next to other modular pieces.
Good for small spaces - If starting small and building over time is what you are looking for, modular furniture may be most practical for you. Modular furniture pieces are designed to look complete on their own, with or without other modular pieces. Your outdoor space won’t look unfinished if you have one or two pieces to start, then slowly add additional modular pieces. Over time, you can continue adding as many modules as your space will allow. You can also remove modules as needed to furnish other rooms or create a separate seat on the fly.
Cost - Modular furniture can be more expensive than traditional furniture. The materials used in modular furniture are generally high-quality and durable with designs that are engineered for long-lasting use. However, while modular furniture can sometimes cost more than traditional furniture pieces, modular pieces are often easier to assemble due to their minimalist design. This can reduce or eliminate costs associated with installing or assembling your pieces. Neighbor furniture features easy assembly with pieces built for function and durability, and fewer tools, boxes, and assembly pages.
Availability - The modular furniture pieces you want may not be readily available. While many traditional furniture pieces may be available for same day store pickup, quality modular pieces often require a couple of weeks for delivery. Although, most furniture experts advise that you prioritize quality over accessibility. Quality furniture, like modular pieces that are made to last, may take a few additional days or weeks to arrive, but are likely to outlive manufactured traditional pieces. The wait time is a small price to pay for an added 10, 20 or 30 years of enjoying your modular pieces.
Factors to consider before purchasing outdoor modular furniture
Before choosing the best modular furniture pieces to create your perfect outdoor living room, consider the module functionality, the size and proportions of your space, and the design personality of different pieces.
Modular outdoor patio furniture may be affixed in a few different ways. Most modular furniture allows two modules to be pushed and locked together. The Neighbor shared leg design is unique to the brand and has the advantage of a minimalist design style and a more stable structure that prevents the modules from shifting or wobbling.
Consider size and proportion
It's important to consider the size and proportions of your outdoor space too. While outdoor modular furniture can be arranged in different layouts, you'll want to determine whether a loveseat, sofa or sectional - or variation of a few pieces - best suits your space. If you choose a sectional, you'll want to know how many modules to purchase. Measure the size of your outdoor space and get accurate dimensions of your patio or balcony to inform your purchasing decision.
To design your perfect outdoor patio space, consider the colors or patterns and the type of materials featured in your potential furniture pieces. If you’re aiming for a modern, contemporary style design for your outdoor layout, purchasing a resin wicker sofa may clash with your style. Wicker outdoor furniture can be more challenging to pair with a full patio furniture set. Teak wood and other weather-resistant woods with natural warmth, like acacia wood or cedar, are complementary to a range of design styles, especially modern.
6 Modular outdoor patio furniture options to purchase
A conversation set is designed to create a casual, lounging space that resembles your indoor living room. Modular furniture provides the ideal design style for a conversation set that offers sufficient seating to accommodate larger groups without your guests feeling crowded. Outdoor conversation sets are highly customizable and may consist of any variation of seats centered around a focal point, like a firepit. You may choose two loveseats and a center table, side tables or a modular ottoman, one loveseat with a couple of armchairs, or a six or eight-piece U-shaped sectional. A sectional set is made for comfort, no matter how you move or who you invite to your outdoor space. Neighbor’s outdoor sectional combines indoor sophistication with outdoor durability. Make it your own with a custom configuration: teak wood and Sunbrella cushions in seven colors.
Patio furniture set
Your patio furniture set can include as many pieces as you desire. With a full patio set of modular outdoor furniture pieces, you’ll have plenty of redesign possibilities to make your outdoor space lively and entertaining, or relaxing and intimate. If you’re someone who has a big family, or you like to host friends and larger parties, adequate seating is a must. You can choose to space out your modular seats with two loveseats facing each other, or design a cozy layout with a U-shaped sectional nested in the corner, and one or two deep-seated armchairs facing the sectional. With a full patio furniture set, chairs, sectionals or sofas can be centered around a coffee table to serve your guests drinks and appetizers.
Neighbor’s modular sofa features three modules with a solid teak wood frame, a roped back and plush Sunbrella cushions with quick-drying foam. Choose between a cushion arm or teak armrest, and seven different cushion cover colors to suit your style. Supportive foam cushions provide long-lasting comfort that won’t sag, and the added fabric ties prevent the cushions from moving and sliding as you get cozy in your modular sofa. Our teak outdoor sofa pairs perfectly with our teak outdoor coffee table and/or additional modular chairs for more seating. If you’re someone who likes to connect with family and friends outdoors, this is the perfect reason to own an outdoor sofa and chair. A sofa and chair set creates a cozy outdoor living space that inspires conversation and brings more life to your backyard.
Sunbrella provides the ideal cushion fabric to adorn your modular furniture pieces and perfect your outdoor living room. These weather-resistant seat cushions feature cushion covers that come in a variety of colors and designs, making it even easier to redesign and customize your outdoor space as often as you desire. Simply purchase new cushion covers to match your new design style without having to replace the entire cushion. With a simple square shape and contemporary-style color options, Sunbrella cushions are ideal for modular sofas, modular sectionals and modular chairs.
A corner chair is an essential part of a modular sectional. Corner chairs can stand alone, but they’re best positioned as the connecting anchor piece in a sectional, like Neighbor’s teak sectional. The corner piece is what gives the sectional design flexibility and allows the sectional layout to be rearranged. Modules can be connected on either side of the corner chair to form an L-shape with a longer tail on either end, or a symmetrical shape with two or more modules on either side. Every sectional needs at least one corner chair to create an inviting layout. Larger sectionals with two corner chairs can form a U-shape, creating a perfect conversational area. There’s nothing like snuggling up in the corner of your sectional with your favorite book or cuddly pet.
Loveseats are popular modular seating pieces in smaller outdoor living room spaces. These modern two-seater sofas can live by themselves or be paired with two deep seat outdoor lounge chairs to create an intimate conversation set. Neighbor’s beautiful outdoor loveseat offers maximum comfort with plush weather-resistant Sunbrella cushions atop a solid teak wood frame. With the option of a cushion arm or teak armrest and seven different removable cushion cover colors, our outdoor loveseat can be customized to fit any space.
Modular furniture for the modern home
Modular furniture pieces are versatile, multi-functional, practical for small space and large outdoor spaces, and sustainable with long lifespans and unlimited design capabilities. Purchasing modular outdoor furniture can save you time and energy by enabling quick and convenient rearrangement for any layout, and save you money by reducing or eliminating the need for new furniture pieces.
At Neighbor, our decision to design modular outdoor furniture aligned with our values of sustainability, flexibility, minimalism, and functional design. Our collection features a variety of thoughtfully-designed modular seating, with free delivery on all items and a full three-year warranty of generous coverage. Our pieces ensure easy assembly with minimal tools and easy to carry, recyclable boxes.
Choose from our best selling modular sectional and modular sofa as well as our outdoor dining sets, accessories and accent seating. Everything we make is crafted with the highest quality outdoor furniture materials and perfect for customizing your ideal outdoor living space.
Looking for tips on how to choose the shape, color and configuration that's right for you space? Read reviews of our pieces and see them styled in our buyers’ outdoor spaces. If you need help designing your outdoor space, let us know or shop our collection today.