We needed outdoor furniture at our vacation rental before the season began since one of the main draws of our property is the outdoor living areas!
There was no room in the budget for high-end options which put a dead end to my search for furniture made of teak, cedar, or eucalyptus.
With no time left to build the furniture myself, I started looking into IKEA options.
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 durable outdoors?
They are used in the construction of boats, so imagine how well it could handle the abuse of seasons!
It seems that every blogger who has written about the ÄPPLARÖ series is thrilled with the durability and aesthetics of their furniture.
The only issue I could find was the possibility of discoloration and cracking so I tried to come up with a solution to prevent it from happening (explained below).
So far it’s been working wonderfully!
The Mr. is
allergic to Ikea and usually stops listening once he hears it mentioned.
His impression is still that of the particle board/laminate furniture that allowed us all to furnish our homes on a dime throughout our early 20s.
You know, that furniture that quickly fell apart and never lasted more than a few years?!
I was determined to show him IKEA has a lot of gems too!
If there was room in the budget I would have purchased Brown Jordan Furniture, but it wasn’t an option at the time.
He agreed to consider the IKEA options if they seemed durable enough to pass his standards.
Choosing The Furniture
After measuring the outdoor living area and looking at different configurations we selected the sofa that worked best for our space.
These aren’t actually ‘outdoor sofas’ but individual chairs, footstools, and corner chairs that can be configured into an outdoor sofa setup.
The Ikea website shows sofa combinations which make it easy to print the shopping list with the number of pieces, aisle location, and total cost.
Easy as pie! Well…actually a lot easier, making a pie is hard work!
Tip: Walk in through the checkout area and straight to the self-serve aisle to save yourself a lot of time and impulse buys!
They discourage this but if you can handle a few sidways glances from employees it’s worth it.
He tested out the display options and was impressed enough to give the green light.
They were sold out of cushions so our total was $410 for the wood base pieces.
I had planned to build the lounge chairs based on the pottery barn chair, but after seeing these at IKEA for such a reasonable price I couldn’t resist snagging two.
The construction is amazing and the wheels make it super easy to move them around the patio and follow the sun!
For the price, you can’t do much better in the lounge chair department, I plan to buy a few more before the end of summer season.
The Cushion Debacle
I knew that IKEA cushions weren’t going to be good quality, so when a sales associate informed us they were out of stock I started looking at other options.
My irrational brain instantly thought “Don’t worry! You can totally find cushions somewhere else or make them!”
Here’s the thing…I’m creative, and I love to make things, but sewing is not a talent I possess any skill at, so making them was crossed off as an option.
If you are great at sewing, Sunbrella fabric can often be found on sale on sites such as Ballard Designs or look for a store like F&S For Less in LA that sells overstock sunbrella and outdurra fabric!
IKEA furniture is oddly sized which means ready-made cushions do not fit the same dimensions so finding alternative cushions seems to be impossible as well.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time 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, please share! I’m still looking for high quality cushions but have found an option listed in the update below if your intersted.
UPDATE: I’ve found that Wayfair has a custom outdoor cushion department made with Sunbrella fabric! They have multiple options at different price points. They offer a knife edge and a double piping version.
Both are offered with or without a zipper depending on if you want to pay a bit more for the option to remove the covers.
Lowe’s had some sets that had the seat + back cushion for under $60 so I grabbed six to try out.
The seat cushion is short one inch in width (24″) so I figured they would until I could find a more suitable option.
The fit is OK with a slight gap that allows the back pillow to rest in place without sliding down, which I like since there are no ties to keep the cushions in place.
We had family over a few days before the rental season started and within four hours of someone (who weighs maybe 130lb soaking wet) sitting on one, it had a permanent dent.
While these are budget friendly (with sales throughout the year) but I wouldn’t recommend them. They are extremely cheaply made and didn’t last more than a few months without going completely flat.
I wanted to share them just in case you need a very temporary solution like we did, just know they are not an investment and will need to be replaced.
Construction & Additional Protection
It only took a few hours to get all the pieces pulled out and put together.
After everything was assembled, each piece was sprayed down with General Finishes 450 to prevent the discoloration and cracking issues.
Since these are going to be outside year round I used my sprayer to give each piece four coats of finish, allowing each one to dry before moving onto the next.
It isn’t necessary to do four coats, but I wanted to be absolutely sure they had a solid protection against the salt water, abuse from guests, and high sun exposure in our area.
UPDATE, sprayer recommendations: If your only going to use it for this project I recommend getting something cheap but effective. The Critter gun is easy to use and clean which makes it perfect for this. If you don’t already have an air compressor they can be rented from Home Depot for the day!
If you live in an area that experiences harsh weather then storing the furniture out of the elements will prolong the protective coat with less possibility of having to refinish in the future.
Completing this step with a brush and roller will take more work due to all of the wood slats, but it is possible.
The most important part is to make sure that every single inch of the wood is coated from top to bottom (including the undersides) to prevent moisture and bugs from penetrating the wood.
If you choose to complete this additional step use the highest quality outdoor coating you can afford.
Cheap products will peel and chip which means the wood isn’t protected and all that work was for nothing.
The budget-friendly pricing makes it easy to assume that it won’t last longer than a season but that’s definitely not the case, this is one of those gems I mentioned!
They turned out very sturdy and stunning, just look at that coloring!
They have all lasted an entire rental season (going on 9 months) without any breaks, cracks, or discoloration!
We will be keeping these and replacing the cushions.
Remember the 2 lounge chairs I mentioned?
They have also held up perfectly and they live outside on the back deck in full sun all day, unlike the sofa which is under a shaded pergola attached to the house.
I’m honestly shocked! I didn’t believe that they would do quite this well with the rain storms we had this year, the salty air, and extreme sun this summer but so far I have yet to notice any issues!
The added benefit is that you can always add or take away pieces and reorganize them to fit your space and needs.
The footstool can be placed in the middle without a cushion as the perfect spot for drinks!
The back pieces can sometimes not match up perfectly as you can see in the picture.
This is fixed by tightening or losening the bolts until they match up.
We didn’t attach the metal brace pieces designed to hold the entire sofa together but haven’t had any issues with movement.
My Final Opinion:
Is it the nicest outdoor furniture? Of course not.
Is it the most comfortable you can buy? Not by a long shot.
Is it worth the money? Yes, I believe so!
Is it a great option most people? Absolutely!
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, salt and the 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.
One of the major downfalls of IKEA shopping is its never a given that a certain line will continue on and they discontinue or change the material of things constantly. As one commenter noted they also carry items on a seasonal basis.
Don’t forget to share those cushions if you find any that fit the APPLARO furniture!
If you’d like to read my thoughts on the Ikea Ektorp Sectional after a full year of vacation rental guests check it out here!
The sunbrella cushions for the Calistoga collection at crate and barrel seem like they might work! I’ve been looking into it for the same concerns about durability and comfort.
Kris- oh yay, I’ll have to look into those- thanks for the recommendation! Do you have the IKEA line but problems with cushions as well?
jim a says
IKEA treats the Applaro series as seasonal items…If you want to be sure that it is in stock, buy it in May or early June, after that it tends to disappear and not return. You can probably buy the matching cushions next year if you feel the need. You might consider buying a double set of them, since in a rental they will inevitably get heavy wear and be miss-treated.
Roger Loo says
Hi Jessica, any guidance on the type of sprayer and/or methods when applying the stain to the furniture?
Hi, Roger! Any basic paint sprayer will do. Harbor Freight has some cheap guns that work extremely well for a project such as this one and Amazon has one called “The Critter” that is simple and effective. Just be sure that your air compressor is large enough to meet the max gun pressure (you can rent one from Home Depot if you don’t already own one). I recommend playing around the compressor pressure and spray pattern on a practice board prior to spraying the furniture and to get the spray pattern and flow right, then start with the bottom of a piece so by the time you’re ready to spray the tops you’ve got a feel for how the gun is working and what type of flow it’s pushing out. You don’t want any drips that will require sanding down so its best to apply too thin and do multiple coats then try and push too much product out at once 🙂 Hope that helps!
Lene Watson says
Hi Jessica … we have a set of 6 IKEA ÄPPLARÖ patio chairs and a table on our deck. We also have another older teak table, not from IKEA, that we keep with the IKEA set. The one that is not IKEA ÄPPLARÖ has turned grey and so it does not match the IKEA set. My question is: what type of stain would you guess IKEA uses for their ÄPPLARÖ outdoor furniture so I can try to match the older table that has turned grey, if you know? I’d like everything to be the same tone in color, if possible. Thanks for any insight!
Hey Lene, I believe that IKEA actually sells their outdoor furniture stain in the store! Teak does naturally gray over time which is part of the beauty but I can see why you’d like it to match other furnishings. Sanding the teak down to remove the oxidation from the surface and stain/topcoat the wood would bring it back. It’s a pretty simple project with a huge impact! If I had to guess at the color of the IKEA stain I’d say, Honey or a mixture of Early American with a bit of American walnut (to redden it a bit)…I believe Rustoleum makes them–hope that helps!