Design Considerations & Planning for Outdoor Cushions

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Some aspects to consider when planning your outdoor seating

Julie Ward
Sales Manager

Hello and thank you for taking the time to explore our world of bespoke outdoor cushions.

I’m sure like most of you I enjoy my garden and producing cushions for others to make the most of theirs 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 customers’ designs and specifications that have proven to be quite a challenge! Whether regards to seat designs, colours and patterns, or simply desire vs what can actually be produced. So, I am going to detail below a few of the issues that we have come across and design aspects of outdoor cushions that might be worth thinking about, whatever stage of planning you are at.

Seat Height

One of the major, often overlooked issues we find is that when seating design plans are initially made, it is not always considered what the height of the finished area will be once a cushion is added. This will obviously have a bearing on the build height of the base. Often Landscape Designers have a vision that they can convey to you, but more often than not, this won’t include cushions for comfort.

However, we have come across many customers who fortunately have avoided the problem of ‘Dangling feet’ by taking the cushion depth into account before the 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 built for you to comfortably sit on un-cushioned, then by adding an additional 15cm this 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, so don’t be afraid if you already have a seat built and can reasonably only accommodate 5cm, that will still be fine.

Seat height is an important planning consideration for outdoor cushions.
Planning for seat height and outdoor cushion thickness is essential to avoid dangling feet!

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 these with intricate cushion designs, but it will limit your cushion options and would prove more uncomfortable if you chose 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.

If you can avoid having this issue it will mean you have more options for back cushions.

For outdoor backrest cushions it is essential to allow for any coping stones that may jut out.
We can make outdoor cushions to allow for coping stones, but this needs to be considered at design stage.

Below are a few examples of 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 to accommodate this is for us to make you 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 help advise the most appropriate option for you.

By the same token if you have a very upright back frame, Hollow Fibre back cushions can soften and make these much more comfortable than solid foam.

Slim foam outdoor cushions are perfect for sloping backrests as an alternative to hollow fibre cushions.
Hollow fibre back cushions are the best 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 stripes.

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 designed to be rounder and with a plumper look.

Bearing this in mind, as our Foam and Hollow Fibre inners give a different look to the cushions, it is almost impossible to match stripes or patterns with a seat and back cushion. So a plain seat 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 fabric and cushion types can give style to an outdoor seating area.
Amixture of plain and patterned babric outdoor cushions can create a fresh and modern look.

Shaped Seating Areas

I am very pleased to say that over 35 years we have so far not received a shaped seating enquiry that we haven’t been able to create bespoke cushions for, in some 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 sizes from you in order to quote and create these for you.

The other option we often have enquiries for is Curved/Banana shaped cushions. To be able to make these accurately for you we would require a paper template from you when we are ready to make them, but for pricing purposes we can calculate this just with a few measurements.

These templates need only to be made of newspaper, but they do need to be as accurate as you can to allow us to make your 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 cushions they required… but that we have then been proud to go on and create as below…

Using newspaper to make templates for outdoor cushions is an ideal solution to ensure accuracy whan fitting.
he finished outdoor cushions are a perfect fit as a result of providing accurate templates.
Odd shaped outdoor cushions are no problem if accurate dimensions are provided.
Shaped outdoor cushions precisely made to fit a wooden seating frame


When you have a corner, unless it is a right-angle corner, we may need a template to create your angled cushions 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 a stripe/pattern for the back cushion.

Corner outdoor cushions are no problem regardless what angle the corner is at.
Angled outdoor cushions, made to fit an unusual  wooden corner bench

If you have right-angled corners, we always recommend the corner is achieved by using rectangular cushions rather than two cushions angled into a corner. By making the corner this way you are able to turn each cushion independently and they will still fit, rather than angled cushions that are not necessarily reversible.

You can never tell when an accident happens and being able to ‘flip’ the cushions is a great advantage!

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

Here to Help…

I hope the above ideas 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!

But rest assured, we are here and very happy to help and advise you, regardless of what stage of considering outdoor cushions you are at, all in a friendly, ‘no pressure’ manner.

Happy Designing!


Please note that this site is specifically designed for RETAIL CUSTOMERS. If you are a Trade/Commercial visitor, then please visit our dedicated Outdoor Cushion TRADE WEBSITE instead…

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Previous Outdoor Cushion Projects

Here are just a few examples of our many previous Outdoor Cushion orders.
Click on an image to view in full…