Sitting Pretty

Local artisans offering everything from a simple bench to a Mission-style sofa can make an al fresco living room any style you like

Wood Classics, the popular garden furniture manufacturer in Gardiner, Ulster County, got new owners in 2005 and a new identity in 2007, but nothing else changed. Now called Arthur Lauer, the company still constructs all its handsome furniture on site, and cheery staff members (some of whom have been with the company for 20-plus years) are on hand to answer questions. You’ll even get a human if you phone for information.

All the furniture is made from sustainably harvested teak, a dense, heavy, extremely strong wood with a high resin content that makes it durable enough to withstand the elements without rotting, warping, or drying out. (Not for nothing was it shipbuilders’ first choice for decks for the past several hundred years.) Bugs don’t like teak, either — and it looks good, gaining a silver patina as it ages. Although the initial cost may be higher than for other materials, teak furniture lasts a lifetime — so choose carefully, you’re buying an heirloom. Arrange to have already assembled pieces delivered when you’re home so you can have them placed where you want them. If you’re handy, you can save money by buying the pieces flat, or as a kit. If you want to see the furniture in its natural habitat, check the outdoor showroom in Gardiner. It’s open daily; call 800-385-0030 for hours and more info, or visit

Seating Plan

A little over 100 years ago in the Adirondack town of Westport, a doctor named Thomas Lee made a simple chair with wide armrests. His friend Harry Bunnell, a carpenter, patented the design, and before long all the great camps and hotels had “Westport chairs” on the porch — and they’ve been a fixture in the region ever since.

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Peter Schoonmaker, a veteran builder in Gloversville who was looking, he says, for “an avenue that’s not so hard on the body,” started making the surprisingly comfortable chairs after his wife persuaded him to make one for her. Although the term “Adirondack chair” is applied to many look-alikes, Schoonmaker’s “replicate the ones Bunnell perfected,” he says, something that pleases design purists.

His chairs, which are made of forested mahogany, had a moment of fame recently when they appeared on a PBS special about the Adirondacks. “Bid-a-bing, bid-a-bang, they were gone,” says Schoonmaker, describing their fleeting appearance on the small screen. “But we got calls from it.”

Chairs cost about $500. For more information, call 518-725-4521 or e-mail

Branching Out

Red Hook residents and landscapers John Hogan and Lisa Coon added to their landscaping biz five years ago when they launched Sit By Me, a line of quirky rustic garden furniture ranging from benches to gazebos. The twiggy one-of-a-kind pieces are hand-made out of reclaimed wood using mortise and tenon joinery for strength — no nails or glue. Prices start at about $250. Call 845-706-5759 for more info.

Sunlight in Moonlight

Even after the sun goes down, it still shines — kind of — with these solar-powered accessories from Brookstone. During the day you can sit in the shade of the weather-resistant umbrella while the sun charges the solar panel on top. Come dusk, the 24 LED lights along the umbrella’s ribs come on and illuminate the space beneath for up to 8 hours. No trailing wires and no plugs mean you can set up anywhere you like. $200

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Colorful solar-powered hanging lanterns are an inexpensive way to glow green … or red, blue, orange, pink or white. After a day in the sun, they’ll light up the night for up to six hours. $19.95 each. Check for more information.

Posh Picnicware

Melamine tableware was popular back in the 1950s, and the resurgence of this tough synthetic in recent years brought with it many of those mid-century motifs: daisies, atomic starbursts, bright colors. Though that playful retro style is hot again, for more elegant alfresco dining, a French company (naturellement) has come up with this line called Vestah. “It looks almost like bone china,” says Gregory Triana, an owner of bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy in High Falls, the first store in the area to carry the line. “It’s streamlined and classic, and not bulky, like melamine can be. The softer palette is a lot more sophisticated. And it’s really designed well. The tiny little bowl can be used for sorbet, custard or berries; the next size is perfect for soup or cereal; the huge salad bowls are perfect for pasta.” The dishes are just about unbreakable and hold up well, making them ideal for outdoor dining. Triana adds: “A dish costs $7, salad serving sets are $11.95 — prices are great across the board.” For more info, call bluecashew at 845-687-0294.

Pictures of Home

Painter Carol Joyce made her first house portrait about 30 years ago, at the request of an acquaintance. “It was a lovely old stone house,” she remembers. Since then, home and farm portraits have been among her favorite commissions. “I especially love old barns,” she says. “When I paint for my own pleasure, those are the subjects I choose most often.”

Joyce, who was a teacher for many years, paints in her home studio near Samsonville, Ulster County. “I’ve always admired the artists of the Hudson River School,” she says. “I emulate that style.”

Works are executed in oils on canvas and take about six weeks to complete. Prices start at $800. For more information, or to commission a portrait of your own home or barn, or of a favorite view, call Joyce at 845-626-0074. â—

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Captions: Set this Arts and Crafts–style furniture (top) in front of an outdoor fireplace atop an all-weather carpet, and you’ll really blur the distinction between in and out. Hawthorne collection; prices range from $295 for the ottoman to $1,750 for the three-seat sofa

The Chandler porch swing has a camel back, scrolled arms, brass hardware and weather-resistant ropes. $695

Curves make this Berkeley chair with its detachable footrest comfortable as well as stylish. Chair: $490 Footrest: $265

Teak with wicker-look panels (made of an eco-friendly resin) lend a Colonial air to this collection designed by Sheila Bridges. Pieces are stained dark chocolate and range in price from $645 for the side table to $3,230 for the sofa. Cushions come in 36 colors and patterns

Schoonmaker’s classic Adirondack chairs are made of forested mahogany, and painted or sealed with teak oil

This new melamine tableware will add a dash of panache to picnics and backyard barbeques




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