We needed to find some outdoor furniture for the vacation rental property & we needed to do it fast! Rental season was in high swing and we still didn’t have the outdoor seating ready for guest’s to relax in. The outdoor deck/pool area is one of the main draw of the home and needed to be comfortable, relaxing, and just beckoning potential guests to book.
It would have been nice to set aside some money in the budget to purchase a high end set of outdoor seating but there were more important things for it to be rent-ready so it was time to get creative with the outdoor living areas…
Now, let me first tell you that the Mr. is
allergic to IKEA. I have to plan my attack carefully (like asking the parents to attend a party) because I know after the word IKEA comes out of my mouth he’s likely to stop listening. He believes that everything in the store is crap, and sure to fall apart in less than a year.
Now don’t get me wrong, IKEA stocks plenty of particle board crap, but there are also some awesome hidden gems that are on my MUST BUY list when working with a very tight budget and big vision!
After countless hours searching the web and resources for some kind of wood furniture that was made of either teak, red cedar, eucalyptus, or at the very least acacia I looked into the IKEA option.
We all know that teak is a golden standard in outdoor furniture but did you know that Northern White and Western Red Cedar are actually more stable outdoors? They are what boats are made from so imagine how well it could handle the seasons and abuse!
When on a budget the options are usually acacia wood which is completely fine. Just seal it properly, care for it, and it will last for many years to come! Now if we had the money in the budget I would have purchased pieces from this line of Brown Jordan Furniture. But I digress…
The best option for our budget was the IKEA ÄPPLARÖ line, which is so well priced for wood outdoor furniture its easy to assume there was no way it can be high enough quality to last a single season of abusive behavior.
After days of searching (and prepping my speech to the Mr) I couldn’t find a single blogger that had something bad to say about it, and most were over the moon thrilled with their items throughout the years. The only thing I noticed was possible issues with discoloration and cracking (which I had a solution in mind for). So why not give it a shot and see if it could hold up to abuse!
Is it the nicest outdoor furniture? No.
Is it the most comfortable you can buy? Not by a long shot.
Is it high enough quality for a budget find? ABSOLUTELY!
After measuring the outdoor living area and looking at different configurations we selected the one that fit in the budget, would fill up the space nicely, and sit a decent number of people who weren’t in the pool or out on the lounge chairs.This setup cost us a total of $410, only because the 6″ thick cream cushions were sold out.
IKEA’s site shows the sofa combinations which makes it SO easy to add it to the cart and print the shopping list with isle location, number of pieces, and total cost. I cannot stress how this step can save your relationship if someone who hates IKEA is going along! Just walk in through the checkout doors and straight to the isle holding the items needed.
We also purchased 2 of the lounge chairs to go out by the pool and the construction of them is amazing…for the price you can’t do much better!
The Cushion Debacle
I knew that IKEA cushions would probably be the first things to break down but the Mr wanted to be DONE with this entire project…
So when we were told they had sold out (with no plan to re-order) it was up to me to try and find replacements that would work. My irrational brain instantly thought “Don’t worry! You can totally find cushions somewhere else or make them, and then they will be nicer anyways!”
Well, here’s the thing….I knew making them was out of the question, and IKEA furniture is oddly sized which means cushions are not made to fit the dimensions (of course). I spent a ridiculous amount of time scouring the web and shops trying to locate cushions that were 25″ x 24″ x 6″. If they exist I wasn’t able to find them…anyone who finds the golden egg must share your knowledge PLEASE I BEG YOU!
Update: We are STILL looking for higher quality cushions because the ones we purchased have bottomed out…so seriously, if you know of any place that sells this size please share!
I found some at Lowe’s sold in set’s of 2 (seat + back cushion) which are only 1″ short in width for about $50 each. I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult to get them to work on the sofa for the time being.
I wouldn’t recommend these cushions for a long term solution; they are CHEAP and didn’t last more than a few months without going flat. If you need a temporary solution while you have some made they do the trick. The fit is OK with a slight gap that allows the back pillow to rest in place without sliding down.
Construction & Additional Protection
Anyways…we brought all the pieces home and I spent a few hours pulling the pieces out & putting them together. It wasn’t bad but I usually purchase their wood furniture in simple designs (like the kitchen carts) and never have a problem.
Maybe simplicity + wood construction is the key to sanity when putting together IKEA items?
After all the individual pieces were together I took them to the shop and spent another few hours coating them in my favorite outdoor finish–General Finishes 450.
If your going to take the time and effort to coat outdoor wood, be sure to use the best product you can find the first time. If a cheap product is used it can peel, chip, and won’t protect the wood. Then it will be easy enough to just give them away when it starts to show age, cuz it’s a pain in the butt to strip and refinish outdoor furniture!
Since these are going to be outside year round I used my sprayer to give each piece 4 coats of the finish (allowing each coat to dry before moving on). Four coats isn’t necessary but I wanted to be absolutely SURE that they had solid protection against the salt pool water, abuse from guests, and general heat/sun exposure in our area.
It would take an immense amount of time to do each piece with a brush/roller due to all of the wood slats. Its most important to make sure that every inch of the wood is coated so I highly recommend a sprayer for this project.
They turned out stunning and sturdy- just look at that coloring!
All the pieces have lasted an entire rental season (8 months) without any breaks, cracks, or discoloration! We will be keeping these and replacing the cushions soon since they have held up so well. Remember the 2 lounge chairs I mentioned? They have also held up PERFECTLY.
I’m honestly shocked…I didn’t believe that they would do quite this well with the rain storms we had this year and the salt water pool but so far I have yet to notice any issues (except the cushion flat problem).
The added benefit is that you can always add or take away pieces and re organize them to fit your space and needs. In the picture below we have the foot stool placed in the middle which would work perfectly for a drink table without the cushion!
Note: The back pieces can sometimes vary in angle slightly (as you can see above). I found that if you change the tightness of the bolts its easy enough to adjust the angle so they line up. We didn’t attach the metal brace pieces that are designed to hold the individual items together and they have stayed put wonderfully.
Overall I’m impressed by this line and we could not be more happy that the pieces allowed us to complete the outdoor living on a tight budget and has held up throughout back to back bookings, kids, parties, and salt/sun.
If you need a budget option for your outdoor space or are just looking to give your backyard a makeover I recommend grabbing some of these pieces before they are discontinued (like so many other favorite IKEA items)..you never know how long they will carry the pieces or when they will change the material its made from.
Don’t forget to share those cushions if you find any that fit the APPLARO furniture!