How To Pair Outdoor Furniture with Cantilever Umbrellas

26 January 2023
Pairing outdoor furniture with the right sun umbrella can be challenging. Here are some tips for choosing the right cantilever umbrella for your outdoor living area.

New Zealanders love outdoor living, and relax on patios, decks, courtyards, and outdoor entertaining areas as often as possible. Comfort and functionality are key to enjoyable outdoor living, and most people begin by choosing outdoor furniture. A close second, and increasingly a first for many New Zealanders, is choosing shade protection from the burning sun. “We can’t even use that deck/patio/balcony during the day, the sun is just too hot,” is something the Shade7 team frequently hears. The New Zealand sun burns any outdoor space with equal intensity, so for safe enjoyment, kiwis entertaining outside must manage the sun, as well as the wind and rain. Planning well can also mean getting the best longevity from outdoor furniture.

With Shade7, managing weather of all descriptions comes down to two things: premium, commercially durable, beautiful outdoor furniture engineered to stand up to sun and rain, and premium, wind-rated stunning outdoor umbrellas that shield residential and commercial customers year-round in New Zealand’s coastal conditions.

Pairing furniture with the right umbrella can be challenging. When choosing furniture, the size of the space usually determines the size of the suite, rather than the number of people using it. The umbrella size, shape and quantity is more closely aligned with how the furniture is arranged and used, although owners of larger properties often line up Riviera cantilever umbrellas for architectural effect, as well as for shade.

First, lets look at the umbrellas that work so well with outdoor furniture. For many outdoor living spaces, Shade7 recommends a cantilever umbrella, bolted down to deck or patio, as the optimal shade solution. Mounting onto an in-ground fitting cast into wet cement is the best option for garden and lawn settings, or where paving stones are on shingle, not concrete. A Shade7 cantilever umbrella gives incredible versatility with casting shade, especially when compared to other options such as louvres or shade sails. Strong and beautiful, Shade7’s cantilever umbrellas can be rotated and tilted as the sun moves over the day, and closed to let in the winter sunlight. In addition, a cantilever umbrella allows the mast to stand outside the socialising space, extending the canopy like a roof over the seating or dining area, effectively creating a ‘room’ without walls. In most instances, a cantilever will be positioned on the outer edge of the living space so the canopy can more effectively screen the sun over the day. But those for whom low or all-day sun isn’t such a concern may decide to install their masts against the house, canopy facing outwards, instead.

Shade7 cantilever umbrellas can rotate from one living area to another, so a single cantilever umbrella can often provide ample shade. For bigger areas, installing multiple umbrellas will ensure no one gets burnt over the day, as well as presenting a stunning display. A large cantilever paired with a smaller centre pole umbrella is a great option for those with a tricky low-sun angle at the end of the day, or a smaller furniture arrangement in a separate patio area. In some instances where furniture use is minimal, small centre pole umbrellas that can be moved are an excellent option, such as Shade7’s Venice, Monaco and Milan sun umbrellas.

Shade7 has two cantilever options, the Riviera and the Stellar. Both have excellent benefits, but for exposed or large spaces, the Riviera cantilever umbrella is the best choice due to its generous sizes and superior strength in the wind. The canopy tilts back down towards the mast and rotates 360degrees. The Stellar cantilever is also a strong umbrella, well-suited to smaller, semi-sheltered areas, particularly those that would benefit from the very versatile side to side tilt the Stellar offers, as well as its gentle tilt down the mast. The Stellar also rotates 360degrees.

The octagonal shape is the most versatile, and therefore Shade7’s best-selling shaped umbrella. What makes it so versatile is that its shorter arms clear outdoor furniture easily, and a round canopy looks intentional and symmetrical anywhere, at any rotation, in relation to furniture and architectural lines.

An octagonal (round) canopy works well in a corner of a lounge suite or patio, or off-set to any house or boundary line. Whether a lounge suite is an ‘L’ shape, or scattered in individual pieces, or a table is rectangular or round, a ‘round’ canopy can be positioned anywhere around the furniture providing fantastic coverage and will always look symmetrical. The shorter arms of an octagonal umbrella mean there is no issue with closing either the 3.5m or 4m octagonal Riviera umbrella over outdoor furniture, including tables, or risk of corner arms hitting walls as it is rotated across the space.

Square cantilevers are often chosen for their straight architectural lines and look fantastically sophisticated when aligned with the architectural lines of houses. They are stunning facing each other across large outdoor spaces or lined up poolside. The mast of a square cantilever is at the centre of the canopy edge, not the corner, so square umbrellas do not make a good choice for corner installation. When a square umbrella is rotated across the deck or patio, those straight lines are no longer symmetrical to the setting, so bear this in mind when visualising a square umbrella in your space.

A square canopy casts a little more shade than an octagonal canopy in an equivalent size, and as furniture is often arranged in rectangular and square shapes, it can seem logical that a square or rectangular umbrella might be the perfect shape for this arrangement. When it works, it looks amazing. However, the arms of a square Riviera cantilever are very long, extending all the way out to each corner of the square. So, when the canopy closes and the frame gathers to the mast, the corner arms are often below the backs of sofas and the tops of tables, so the furniture might prevent the umbrella closing.

For this reason, placement of furniture around a square cantilever umbrella is an important consideration.  In terms of rotation and closing, balustrades and walls also impact the use of square umbrellas. Placing the umbrella away from walls, on the outer edge or side of an open deck usually enables the tilt and rotation functions to be utilised. Where there is an empty space in which to rotate the umbrella to close it, or furniture is low or distant enough to avoid the reach of the arms as they close, the 3.5 square Riviera is an excellent option for those who value the vast amount of shade and stylish symmetry of a square canopy. More help on choosing the right shape cantilever umbrella is here.

When bolted to a deck or patio, the base plate/spigot of Shade7’s cantilever umbrellas are a small footprint, allowing maximum room for furniture and foot traffic. Shade7’s cantilever umbrellas are wind-rated. Bolting the base plate or spigot to the substrate ensures the full wind-rating applies. There are also free-standing bases available. It is a good idea to note the size of the free-standing base options, as well as any impact on wind-rating. Choosing where to install a cantilever umbrella is covered in more detail here.

Shade7 is committed to ensuring peace of mind with furniture and umbrellas that are beautiful and enduring, engineered for NZ coastal conditions, attractive and strong enough to be used in premium commercial resorts and hotels. If you are looking for the best combination of furniture and umbrellas, the friendly and experienced Shade7 team will be happy to help advise on your specific furniture and shade needs.

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