Tips & How-to's12 min read

Outdoor Cushions Buying Guide: What To Look For When You Shop

Outdoor Cushions Buying Guide: What To Look For When You Shop

Outdoor cushions and pillows can bring a whole lot of personality and life to your outdoor seating area. From the bold and beautiful to the classic and elegant, there are several options to choose from. So just how do you go about deciding on the right ones for your space?

The outdoor living experts at Outer have done the legwork for you! We’ve compiled our favorite tips and tricks for selecting the perfect outdoor accessories to style your backyard armchairs, sofas, and sectionals.

From color scheme to comfort, check out our six tips below for everything you need to know about choosing the best of the best when it comes to outdoor cushions.

How To Choose The Best Outdoor Cushions

 outdoor cushions on a wicker chair
Outer Outdoor Throw Pillow - Navy/Charcoal Lumbar

1) Pick Your Color Scheme

When choosing your new outdoor cushions, it’s important to consider your color scheme and how your new accessories will look against the backdrop of your existing outdoor furniture.

If you’ve got a brightly colored outdoor sofa, the task of deciding which outdoor cushions to get can be a little tricky. However, if your outdoor furniture is neutral-toned, like our range of Wicker, Teak, and Aluminum seating options, selecting your outdoor cushions just got a whole lot easier.

We designed our range of outdoor throw pillows to pair perfectly with the classic gray and cream hues of our outdoor armchairs, sofas, and sectionals. With a variety of fabric colors available, including navy, sand, and charcoal, matching outdoor cushions to your seating is simple.

Our throw pillows are easy to mix and match with one another thanks to our nine pattern options with hand-sewn patchwork designs. They’re simple yet elegant, and they add a touch of sophistication to any outdoor space.

Even those new to the world of outdoor decor will nail this one!

2) Prioritize Comfort

A dog sitting on outdoor cushions
Outer Outdoor Throw Pillow - Navy/Stripe Split

It’s all well and good if your outdoor pillows look amazing, but you’ll also want them to feel amazing. It’s important to prioritize comfort and functionality along with style to make sure you get the most out of your cushions.

The fill material used in Outer throw pillows offers a firm-yet-soft feel that holds its shape and makes for an incredibly comfortable cushion. And on the outside, you’ve got our classic solution-dyed performance fabric that’s built to stand the test of time (more on that below).

It’s the combination of these features that equals the perfect outdoor cushion — soft on the inside, comfortable on the outside.

3) Ensure They’re Durable

Speaking of the materials we use in our throw pillows, another factor to consider when purchasing your new outdoor cushions is how long they’re going to last.

Durability is a key feature of all Outer products, from our seating options to our rugs, and our outdoor pillows are no different. Like the performance fabric we use in our furniture cushions, our outdoor cushions are made to be lifeproof.

This means they’re resistant to stains, mold, bleach, water, UV rays, and just about anything else you throw at them. They’re built to last and live a long, happy life as part of your outdoor furniture setup.

4) Choose Easy-To-Clean Options

Thanks to the lifeproof performance fabric in our pillows, they’re incredibly easy to clean. A simple hand wash with mild detergent does the trick to remove even tough food stains, like coffee or sauces.

As an added bonus, our pillow covers are machine-washable for times when a deeper clean might be needed. Zip the covers off, throw them in the washing machine on a cool cycle, then let them air dry to have your Outer pillows looking as good as new again.

It’s worth noting that not all outdoor cushions on the market have covers that are machine-washable or stain-resistant. Be sure to check the label before you purchase to avoid disappointment when it comes time to clean your cushions!

5) Consider Multiple Sizes

 outdoor cushions on a wicker couch
Outer Outdoor Throw Pillow - Navy/Charcoal Lumbar

To really bring your outdoor space together with the help of accessories like outdoor cushions, it’s best to mix and match shapes and sizes. This stops your outdoor space from looking overly formal and can create a more cozy, welcoming atmosphere for your guests.

We designed our outdoor pillows with the goal of cutting back on clutter. Our cushion inserts and covers utilize standard sizing, making it simpler to switch out your covers without leaving a mess of excess materials behind.

Our square cushions come in two standard sizes — 18x18 and 20x20 — with our additional rectangular lumbar cushions in a 12x24 size. Try mixing and matching your favorite designs from our range with each other to bring some extra flair and personality to your outdoor space.

Trust us — no matter which options you choose to pair together, you really can’t go wrong! We made sure that all our designs, from the colors and prints to the shapes and sizes, are easy to throw together and still look effortlessly styled.

6) Opt For Recyclable Outdoor Cushions

It’s no secret that we’re big on sustainability here at Outer. We believe in doing our part for the planet by using sustainably sourced materials in our products wherever we can and helping to reduce our carbon footprint by replacing the wood we harvest for our furniture.

So when it came time to design our range of outdoor pillows, we knew we wanted to continue our mission for a better planet by creating them from recyclable materials.

As a result, our outdoor throw pillows are completely recyclable! Everything from the cushion inserts to the cushion covers is biodegradable and better for our environment than the typical materials used in outdoor accessories.

Most other outdoor furniture brands rely on acrylic fabric, which, unfortunately, is not recyclable. All materials we use in our outdoor cushions fall under specific recycle codes (while still offering the same feel as organic cotton).

A win for us and a win for the planet!

Features To Avoid In Outdoor Cushions

Low-Quality Fabrics

Since not all cushions are made with the same care and consistency, it helps to know what to avoid when you’re shopping for the perfect one.

One of the quickest ways to tell if a cushion falls below quality is to ask questions about the fabric. For starters, you’ll want performance fabric to withstand the wear and tear of any outdoor conditions while being easy to clean.

It’s also good to check that the cushions have removable covers. These covers simplify the cleaning process without damaging the cushion insert, so there’s no stress over shortening the lifespan of your cushion or compromising its comfort.

And if you’re shopping with the environment in mind, we recommend avoiding acrylic materials even though it’s one of the most popular options for performance fabrics. As we mentioned, acrylic is unfortunately not recyclable or sustainable.

At Outer, we use an eco-friendly fiber known as Olefin. Not only is Olefin durable and easy to recycle, but it also doesn’t need to be treated due to its natural high-performance qualities. That means all the protection without any chemical finishes.

Cream color outdoor cushions
Outer Wicker Outdoor L Sectional - 4 Seat

Easily Stained Fabrics

Whether it’s a coffee spill or the sun’s rays, having a fabric that’s resistant to life’s messes makes things a whole lot easier. Check for terms like “lifeproof,” “performance fabric,” or “stain-resistant” when shopping.

One example of low-performance fabric is polyester. Polyester has the lowest lightfastness rating, meaning too much exposure to sunlight will fade and damage your cushions.

Uncomfortable Materials

The last thing you want is an uncomfortable cushion. Many manufacturers sacrifice comfort for durability, but we don’t think it’s too much to ask for both.

Discomfort comes from a mix of a low-quality cushion and the fabric used. To achieve a durable synthetic result, some manufacturers will apply several coatings to their fabric to make it weather resistant and supposedly outdoor-ready.

The downside to this process is that it results in a stiff fabric that feels unnatural. Pair this with an uncomfortable cushion like hollow-fill fiber (no support), polyester (easily flattened), or feather (not sustainable), and your outdoor experience might not be what you hoped for.

At Outer, we don’t take shortcuts. We pair multi-layer memory foam with life-proof fabric to deliver premium comfort that’s also easy to take care of. With our cushions, you can relax more and worry less.

How To Style Your Outdoor Space

Neutral color Outdoor furniture set
Outer Teak Outdoor Sofa with Armchairs - 5 Seat

Your outdoor cushions are a major part of styling your outdoor seating area, but there are a ton of other simple yet effective ways to bring life back outside. And the best part is you don’t have to be a decorator to make everything look professionally styled.

Roll Out A New Rug

We love creating a warm, inviting ambiance in outdoor spaces by starting with a rug. This creates a soft foundation and helps cohesively tie an outdoor seating area together.

Our range of Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rugs is the perfect place to get started. Like our throw pillows, our rugs are sustainably made from recyclable materials (almost 100 plastic bottles per rug, to be exact!).

They come in a variety of neutral colors to seamlessly pair with any outdoor seating option, and just like our furniture, our rugs are easy to clean. They’re as comfortable and durable as they are sleek and sophisticated — what’s not to love?

Consider A Coffee Table

Grey outdoor cushions
Outer Black Wicker Outdoor Loveseat

Once you’ve laid the foundation of your outdoor space, arrange your comfortable seating around the rug and finish off your furniture layout with a coffee table for added functionality.

Our range of Teak Coffee Tables was designed for outdoor spaces of all shapes and sizes. The warm, honey tones of these staple pieces look incredible with just about any style of outdoor seating, so you can rest assured your space will look cohesive and put-together.

Plus, in true Outer style, the Grade A teak used in all our outdoor tables is sustainably sourced and has the tick of approval from the Forest Stewardship Council® — the leading international authority on sustainable forest management.

Kick Back With An Ottoman

Some of the best accessories double as a functional piece of furniture. That’s why we love ottomans for styling backyard spaces.

First, ottomans come in a long list of customizable options of shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. No matter what your current setup is, you’re sure to find an ottoman that perfectly fits with your outdoor oasis.

Ottomans also have multiple purposes that can range from a simple footrest to a method of storage. It all depends on the style you want and the way you’re looking to use your ottoman.

outdoor cushions on an ottoman
Outer Teak Outdoor Ottoman

If you plan to use an ottoman to store blankets and other miscellaneous items, try matching it with the frame of your existing furniture for the most seamless look — wicker with wicker, teak with teak. But even mixing these natural styles can bring out the best in the other.

In addition, an ottoman that functions as a footrest should be measured against your outdoor seating to ensure it’s not too high. The sweet spot for the ideal feet-resting position is slightly lower than your seating.

To use your ottoman as additional seating, you’ll want one that has a reasonable weight capacity. Although some options are designed to be sturdy and supportive, others are only designed to kick your feet up on.  

Our Outdoor Ottomans are yet another way we optimize comfort. Just like our sofas, these are fitted with a multi-layer memory foam cushion that is durable, sustainable, and made with premium materials.

It’s a comfortable, versatile choice that offers a new seat for kids or the best place to rest your feet.

Warm Up With A Fire Pit

One of the best ways to make use of your comfortable cushions is to pair your furniture with a modern, multifunctional fire pit.

Our Fire Pit Table creates a warm place to gather outdoors while also being great for cooking tasty treats. With a built-in cast iron griddle, this piece offers many ways to bring your outdoor entertainment to the next level.

To keep everyone effortlessly warm, our design directs heat outward to everyone around the fire — because we don’t believe you should have to come within an inch of the flame to escape the cold.

When you’re not warming up by the fire, you can place the removable cover on top and use it as a coffee table (which pairs perfectly with the removable propane tank cover that doubles as a tabletop when not in use).

Give Your Space Some Greenery

Cream color outdoor cushions on a wicker couch
Outer Wicker Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chairs - 5 Seat

Whether it’s a spacious garden or a few potted plants, a pop of green does wonders for your outdoor space.

Not only does green add a bright, natural color to your outdoor furniture’s timeless and neutral tones, but it also functions as a backyard produce aisle!

Growing a garden gives you access to countless delicious fruits and vegetables, like peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and so much more. Not to mention all of the effortless-to-grow herbs that can help you step up your seasonings for every recipe.

Bring Dinner Outdoors

Showcase your backyard space by adding a functional and comfortable outdoor dining set. This way, everyone can move from the outdoor sofa to the dining table without ever losing that feeling of comfort.

For the right outdoor dining set, look for a table that accommodates a variety of guests. Whether it’s a date night for two or a party of 12, the best table will contract and expand based on your needs.

To do this well, find an option that comes with table leaves. These additional sections can be added to increase your table’s surface area or removed to fold away a portion of the table.

All that’s left to do is figure out what’s on the menu for the evening.

Set Up A Camping Space

Another way to entertain guests of all ages is to design a camping space. This can be as simple as setting up your tent and hanging some string lights or as extravagant as adding a stylish and spacious yurt.

To create the ultimate entertainment experience, add a projector for outdoor movie nights. And don’t forget about the blankets!

While you’re outside, you’ll want a comfortable blanket that wards off pests. Our Bug Shield Blanket is lightweight and enhanced with safe, long-lasting bug-repellent Insect Shield technology to make your time outside relaxing and worry-free.

Wicker love seats with grey outdoor cushions
Outer Black Wicker Outdoor Armchair Conversation Set

Even after washing, our blankets are designed to repel insects throughout their long lifespan. And when it’s finally time for something new, you can rest assured that our blankets are made with 100% recycled fibers, giving existing materials a second life.

Our blankets are available in houndstooth, pinstripe, and plaid patterns and make a wonderful addition to every sofa and sectional.

Book A Free Design Consultation

Still not sure how to style your outdoor space? Talk it over with an expert.

Our free exterior design and space planning services set you up with our team of professional exterior designers to help unlock your vision. No more guessing or waiting for the perfect idea. We’ll make it happen.

Booking your consultation is easy. First, request a consult with one of our team members. Then, tell us a bit about your project and if you have any dream goals or foresee any challenges. Finally, work hand in hand with one of our experts to achieve your vision.

We make it easy to get everything you want out of your space. Whether it’s a complete backyard makeover or a few remodeling tips, we’ve got you covered.

Live Better Outside With Outdoor Cushions

 outdoor cushions on a wicker couch
Outer Outdoor Throw Pillow - Navy Stripe

It’s easy to see why outdoor cushions make the perfect addition to any outdoor seating area. By following the simple tips in our buying guide, you’ll be able to choose the best options for your space with minimal fuss.

Be sure to prioritize comfort; look for quality, long-lasting materials; and consider choosing outdoor cushions of varying shapes and designs to keep your outdoor space fresh and welcoming all year round.

For the best combination of quality and comfort, you can trust our expert team of designers. Outer has something for everyone, from our sleek Aluminum Outdoor Loveseat with Pacific Fog Gray cushions to the accommodating 8-seat U-Sectional in wicker.

Whether your style is minimal and modern or all-natural, you’ll find the best options among our range of outdoor furniture and the perfect cushion for every occasion.