Design Considerations & Planning for Outdoor Cushions


Lead times from 3-4 weeks – just mention…


Some aspects to consider when planning your outdoor seating

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to explore our WEBSITE FOR bespoke TRADE outdoor cushions.

Julie Ward
Sales Manager

Like most of you I enjoy my garden and producing cushions for others to enjoy is something I and my team love to do.

That being said, in over 35 years of creating bespoke outdoor cushions we have come across many issues with garden designers and architects specifications that have proven to be quite a challenge!

Whether with regard to seat designs, outdoor fabric colours and patterns, or simply what is required vs what can actually be physically produced. So, I am going to detail below a few of the issues that we have come across and the design aspects of our outdoor cushions that might be worth thinking about, whatever stage of planning you are at.

Outdoor Seat Height

One of the major, often overlooked issues we find is that when seating design plans are initially made, the height the finished area will be, once a cushion is added, is not given due consideration. This will obviously have a bearing on the build height of the base. Often Landscapers and Designers have a vision that they can convey, but forgetting the final height of the seating, with the outoor cushions included, may lead to poor comfort.

However, many customers have fortunately avoided the problem of ‘Dangling feet’ by taking the cushion depth into account before the final seat base height is decided upon. You may well like the look of a nice plump 15cm deep cushion, but if your base is already designed and built for to comfortably sit on while un-cushioned, then adding an additional 15cm would mean a very uncomfortable seat for those of us who are vertically challenged!

Our ‘Rain and Shine’ foam is more than supportive enough, even as shallow as 5cm in depth, so don’t be afraid if you already have a seat built that can only reasonably accommodate 5cm – this will still be fine.

Seat height is an extremely important planning consideration for outdoor seating that is going to be fitted with outdoor cushions.
Planning for correct seat height, and allowing for the thickness of the finished cushions, is essential to avoid 'dangling feet' or seats that are too low to be comfortable!

Outdoor Back Cushion Designs

Moving on to back cushion designs, again something that looks lovely, may not always be the most comfortable to lean against, or easy to have a cushion made for. An example of this would be where a coping stone is placed on the top of a stone back wall. If it overhangs the vertical back wall, then this causes no end of issues. We can overcome this with more intricate cushion designs, but it will limit your cushion options and would prove extremely uncomfortable if you choose not to have a back cushion at all.

Over time we have come up with some very elaborate ways to get around this issue, but if you are still at the planning stage, then it’s definitely worth taking into account.

For outdoor backrest cushions it is essential to allow for any coping stones that may jut out and stop the cushion from fitting flush to the seat back.
We can make outdoor cushion backrests to allow for coping stones, but this should be considered at design stage.

Below are a few examples of the differnt types of seating area designs we have been presented with, all of which we have overcome, one way or another!

Sloped and Upright Back Frames

If you have a sloped back frame on your seating area, by far the best option is for us to make Hollow Fibre back cushions. These will accommodate the slope nicely, be comfortable and also mask any slight variations in angles, and corners.

A rigid foam cushion is not as forgiving in these instances. If you don’t have enough seat depth front to back for Hollow Fibre back cushions, then slim Foam back cushions with scatters in front can also work. Don’t panic, we can gladly help and advise the most appropriate options for you!

If, however, you have a very upright seat back, Hollow Fibre back cushions can soften and make these much more comfortable than solid foam cushions.

Slim foam outdoor cushions are perfect for sloping backrests as an alternative to hollow fibre cushions if the seat width/depth is limited.
Hollow fibre back cushions are the best fitting and comfort option for sloped backrests.

FABRICS: Patterns Versus Plains

Many people like the look of patterned cushions, but often ‘less is more’! Not that we discourage patterns, we just would advise to use them carefully. As a general rule, either a seat or back cushion looks great with patterns, rather than both. This especially applies to striped fabrics.

As all our seat cushions are created in either our ‘Garden foam’ or ‘Rain & Shine’ foam, they hold their shape and crisp edges nicely. Whereas Hollow Fibre back cushions, our most popular and most comfortable option, are rounder and have a more plump look.

Bearing this in mind, and as our Foam and Hollow Fibre fillings give a different look to the cushions, it is almost impossible to match stripes or patterns across both a seat and back cushion. So a plain seat cushion and a patterned back cushion, or vice versa, is a much better option.

As you’ll see below, adding patterns to back cushions or scatter cushions really brings a fresh, modern look when matched with plain seats.

A mixture of different fabrics,  and cushion types can create style and elegance for outdoor seating areas.
A mixture of plain and patterned fabric, for outdoor cushions, can create a fresh and modern look and avoid pattern mismatch or clash across the seating area.

Shaped Seating Areas

I am very pleased to say, that in over 35 years we have not received a shaped seating enquiry that we haven’t been able to create bespoke cushions for, in one way or another!

One of the most common seating area shapes we have seen in the last few years has been for Fire Pits. These areas, with rectangular cushions, are easy for us to cope with and generally we would only need finished cushion sizes from you in order to quote and make outdoor cushions for you.

The other option, we often have enquiries for, is Curved or Banana shaped cushions. To be able to make these accurately for you, we would require an accurate paper template from you once you are ready to proceed with an order. However, for pricing purposes we can calculate the cost with just with a few measurements.

These templates need only to be made of newspaper, or similar, but they do need to be as accurate to allow us to make your seating cushions for the best fit.

We have some very happy customers who were initially doubtful that anyone would be able to supply the perfectly fitting bespoke cushions they required… but that we have then been proud to go on and make as below…

Using newspaper to make templates for outdoor cushions is an ideal solution to ensure accuracy of fitting the finished cushions to shaped seating areas.
The finished outdoor cushions are a perfect fit as a result of providing accurate newspaper templates for each cushion.
Odd shaped, or circular  outdoor cushions are no problem if accurate dimensions or a template are supplied.
We can pefectly shape outdoor seat cushions to fit circular seating designs.

Seating Corners

When you have a corner, unless it is a right-angle corner, we may need to make a template to create angled cushions more accurately. Again, this is easily done with a paper template.

An aspect to remember when you have patterns or stripes on a corner, is that the lines cannot match up exactly, so it is advisable for an unusually angled corner to have a plain fabric for the seat and perhaps use a stripe/pattern for the back cushion, if required.

Corner outdoor seating cushions are no problem no matter what angle the corner is at.
Angled outdoor cushions, made to fit an unusually shaped wooden corner bench

If your seating design has right-angled corners, we always recommend the corner is achieved by creating perfectly rectangular cushions rather than two cushions angled at 45 degrees into a corner. By making the cushion corners this way you it will be possible to turn each cushion independently, and they will still fit, whereas angled cushions may not necessarily be reversible.

You can never tell when an accident may happen, and being able to ‘flip’ the cushions can be a great advantage!

Outdoor cushions made to perfectly 'butt' and fit a 90 degree corner.
Outdoor seat cushions made to fit a 90 degree L-shaped outdoor seating area

Here to Help…

I hope the above points, regarding some of the aspects of outdoor cushion design that we have experienced and perfected over the years, are of some help to you… and give you food for thought with your seating area designs!

Rest assured, we are here and very happy to help and advise you, regardless of what design stage you are at, all in a friendly, ‘no pressure’ manner.

Happy Designing!


Please note that this site is specifically designed for TRADE / BUSINESS CUSTOMERS.
If you are a Private Individual, then please visit our dedicated Outdoor Cushion RETAIL website instead…

As featured in: