Outdoor living with Janice Simonsen


Words by Jura Koncius

Janice Simonsen, design spokesperson for Ikea North America, joined staff writer Jura Koncius last week on The Washington Post’s Home Front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt from the outdoor living Q&A.


How should you care for wood that you leave outside?

Wood furniture should be brought inside at the end of the season, washed occasionally with mild soapy water, and re-stained once or twice a year to maximise the life span.


We have a set of rattan living room furniture that we would like to place on our covered outdoor deck. There is a roof overhead and two side windows plus an open balcony with rail. Can rattan withstand a bit of rain that may get in?

Yes. As long as the rattan is protected from the elements, it should be able to take a little moisture. Once or twice a season, wipe it down with linseed oil and let it sit until no more oil is absorbed, then wipe away any excess. This will help protect the material.


Are most of your cushions and pillows made of a water-resistant, indoor-outdoor fabric?

All of our outdoor cushions are intended for outdoor use, but occasional cleaning and offseason protection will extend their life span.


If you want to buy an umbrella for your patio that will withstand winds, what’s the best solution?

Look for a base that allows for weighting with sand or water, but I would highly recommend closing the umbrella when winds are very strong or when not in use.


Is there a trick to lighting outdoor spaces? I have a small patio, and I can’t seem to find the right combination of lighting (fixtures and mounted) to give off the right amount of light.

You’re on the right track by looking at several different sources of light rather than trying to make one light do it all. A fixed wall lamp will give good general light, and a string of LED lights like SVARTRÅ, will set the mood for a romantic summer evening all by itself. Single lanterns are handy since they can be moved from place to place where light is needed.


I don’t have a backyard, only a small balcony. How can I make the most of my outdoor space?

Even the tiniest balcony can use a small table and a couple of chairs that fold flat when not in use, like the TÄRNO table and chairs. The ÄPPLARÖ bench with wall storage is another product that maximises space by providing seating, bench and wall storage all in one.


I’m looking to outfit the outdoor space of my apartment with some sleek furniture for entertaining guests. Everything I’ve come across seems a little too family oriented. Any suggestions on styles, colours or materials that I should explore to complete my bachelor pad?

I’m really loving the look of the SJÄLLAND table and chairs in sleek aluminum. It’s got a sophisticated, contemporary design.


Featured Image: Andrei Ianovskii, Unsplash