Using indoor furniture outside is an ideal way to get the design you want if you already have indoor furniture that needs a home, or you can't find outdoor furniture to meet your design needs. If your outdoor space is a covered or protected area, you won't have to worry much about upkeep. However, if your outdoor area is exposed to the elements, you must protect your indoor furniture from weathering.
Before you place wooden furniture outside, you must treat it with protective sealants, so it doesn't fade, weather, flake or splinter. Treated lumber and items made from teak, redwood and cedar handle the elements better than other types of wood, according to IdealHomeGarden.com. Most hardware stores and home improvement stores carry wood sealants that can be used on indoor furniture. If your indoor furniture has a glossy sheen or lacquer finish, you will likely need to sand the area before applying the sealant. Follow the directions on the sealant can.
Paint your indoor furniture with outdoor weatherproof paint to protect it from fading and weathering. Metals, woods and some synthetic components require weatherproof paint, or they will eventually fade and deteriorate. Metal furniture requires a weatherproof paint that also prevents rust, according to IdealHomeGarden.com. Before applying outdoor paint to your furniture, sand it down lightly, so the paint adheres to the surface. Apply two or three light coats of paint, rather than a single heavy coat for the best results, and let the paint dry between coats. You might need to repaint the surface every few years to keep it fresh and well-protected. Plastic furniture generally holds up well and doesn't usually require weatherproof paint.
Use outdoor fabrics to cover sofa cushions, seat cushions and throw pillows. Indoor fabrics will quickly fade with sun exposure and will likely mildew during rainy seasons. Comfortable indoor furniture that is covered in weather-resistant fabric can make an outdoor space feel like an extension of the living room, according to "Country Living" magazine. Outdoor fabrics come in a variety of colors, patterns and textures, so you can choose a design that coordinates with your theme and overall outdoor design.
Rustic, weathered, reclaimed wood furniture and vintage metal furnishings are often used to create an outdoor living space. As a result, you can purposely allow your indoor wood and metal furniture to naturally fade and weather, so you can incorporate an antique or rustic vibe into your space. Even though a rustic design has a warm, natural appeal, realize that, depending on the material, it won't last as long. Eventually the colors in your fabrics will fade to faint pastel hues, your wood furniture will crack and flake and your metal chairs or tables will rust. As long as you don't mind the shortened lifespan, allowing your furniture to naturally weather is a reasonable design option.