6 Tips for Furnishing Public Spaces

Benches lined up outside of a hotel

| Sep 25, 2023

Furnishing a public space requires an understanding of your area’s size, theme, color scheme and accessibility needs. After researching the best materials and design specifications for your furniture, you can find the best outdoor furniture that fits your business’s needs. Design an outdoor furniture layout for a public space with our tips in mind to enhance your area in a way that makes sense for your needs.

Before exploring the tips for furnishing public spaces, you may also want to understand the benefits of filling your public space with new furniture. With tables and chairs, picnic tables or park benches, your space will be a place of rest, relaxation or socialization for guests and customers. Encourage people to visit your business often by making it as inviting as possible with the right outdoor furnishings.

What Is the Benefit of Furnishing Public Spaces?

When looking for new furniture for a public space, you’ll want to find items that match your current aesthetic and offer various improvements to your company and your customers. From increased safety to better social interactions, public spaces can significantly benefit from including dynamic outdoor seating and table areas. Before investing in new items, consider the advantages of furnishing public spaces.

Increased Safety

Your company can add several new features to ensure your guests’ or customers’ safety and comfort. Safety features are meant to soften the harshness that often comes with outdoor safety furnishings and features. Some businesses may utilize blockers, bollards or barriers to keep their guests safe in a secluded space. However, these objects can also be carefully placed and attractively designed to fit your current aesthetic. Guests will feel both safe and welcomed into the area.

Some safety furnishings may include:

  • Bollards: Bollards help limit access to restricted areas around your business, including shutting off access to private spaces or dark alleyways that you may not want customers to venture into. Many like to use decorative bollards or fencing to smoothly transition from their outdoor space to the blocked-off areas. Removable bollards are also an option for those who want to rework a space.
  • Signs: Signs and pathways can have clear marks with easy directions to show your guests where to walk and sit. Some great areas to use signs are in parking lots or front entrances. Clear markers help guests and pedestrians feel safe and confident while visiting your business.
  • Planters: Plants and greenery help bring life to the area by including flowers or bushes. You can decorate the perimeter or create pathways using greenery to control guests’ foot traffic or access to certain zones. You can also use bushes to keep people out of spaces you don’t want them in or protect them from roads.
safety features

Improved Social Interactions

While many companies take seats and benches for granted, providing seating in public spaces is one of the best ways to encourage community and social interaction around your business.

Create designated socializing areas by using seats and tables. You can also add some planters or trees around the space to provide shade and aesthetic decorations. These additions will encourage people to socialize and stay for longer periods. Anyone can sit and talk, from older adults to families with children and those with mobility needs.

You can attract diverse customers with accessible seating areas where people are encouraged to socialize. From large groups of friends to strangers, an attractive and peaceful rest area will draw new customers to your business and give them a reason to stay and talk while interacting with your products or food.

More Active Community

While you may wonder how furniture for public spaces could encourage a more active community, attractive seating areas and tables could act as more than rest and waiting spaces. People and customers can sit, check their phones, socialize or eat together. They can also be encouraged to people-watch, complete homework or delve into writing.

If you include green space in your outdoor area, customers may enjoy resting and relaxing while interacting with nature. Plants and trees allow your customers to look at local wildlife, birds or natural flowers and plants. Areas like parks and playgrounds may consider installing information boards or maps in your outdoor space to inform people about the area, local animals and foliage, which encourages them to explore the space and be more active.

Litter Management

dispose cigarettes

Many businesses add furnishings like trash cans or smoking receptacles to clean the area of debris while cutting down on litter. Try to include containers with durable and vandal-resistant materials to keep things even cleaner. Trash cans and the smoking area should be regularly cleaned and spaced away from the main outdoor space to encourage customers to continue socializing.

Trash cans keep the streets clean and improve security and community pride in your business. When used properly, a trash can prevents littering and deters messy activities.

Smoking receptacles help collect ash and cigarette butts, keeping them off pathways and clean surfaces. You’ll also want a space where people can smoke and dispose of cigarettes without disrupting the air quality of other customers.


How to Furnish Public Spaces

Filling a public space with furniture can help make your business inviting and relaxing for customers and guests. Whether you want to furnish an outdoor dining area for your restaurant or a resting place for families at a park, explore these tips for adding furniture to your public space before investing in new items. 

1. Consider the Space You’re Furnishing 

The space of your business directly affects what kind of furnishing you can use. A large dining table fits well in outdoor areas with large patios or grassy spaces but may not be best for small cafes or bistros with limited seating. Park benches or picnic tables match well in expansive fields, schoolyards or playgrounds but may not fit with an outdoor area at a classy restaurant. Consider the size, purpose, usage and design of the space you are furnishing.

Whether your area is big or small, you’ll want to size the space precisely and figure out how many tables and chairs you can fit. Consider the added decorations and how they might make sense in the space. You still want to ensure enough room for traffic flow while including as many decorations and seating areas as possible.

Next, think about the purpose of your space and what you intend to use it for. Is it meant for relaxation, eating or something else? Its purpose also connects to its specific usage. Consider how your furniture should relate to your business, whether you’re a park, hotel or restaurant. 

Consider the current design and theme of your business, as well. You’ll want your new furnishings to match them, whether you have a modern, traditional, funky or classic design. Perhaps your furniture can also match your color scheme or fun themes, such as a red-themed outdoor space or a diner with an ’80s theme.

2. Think of Ongoing Maintenance 

Think about how much maintenance you are willing and able to put into your new furniture. You will probably want low-maintenance and durable furnishings to make moving and cleaning equipment easy. 

Several materials may need additional cleaning or maintenance, depending on what you intend to use them for. From wood or metal to wicker or stainless steel, different materials offer various benefits you may want to explore.


There are two types of wood businesses like to use for outdoor furniture — softwoods and hardwoods. Softwoods include pine, fir or cedar and remain a cost-effective and popular option for those who want to furnish their outdoor space. Remember that not every kind of softwood is weather-resistant, and you’ll have to cover this material in tarps or protective coverings when not in use. 

Hardwoods, on the other hand, often resist weather damage and offer stability and long-lasting material. You can find various hardwood options to suit your needs. From teak, white oak or ipe to acacia, mahogany or eucalyptus, hardwood is often a better wood option that may last a long time.

Stainless Steel

Metal furniture is solid and durable, with the ability to be manufactured in complex designs and sizes. From thin frames to thick, sturdy legs, metal can combine with other materials to create unique furniture options.

Stainless steel is a high-density metal that can prevent excessive dents and damage. Like most metals, it will become hot once exposed to sunlight, although the material can endure extreme temperatures better than most. Some stainless steel can also resist rust and corrosion, although an extra layer of powder coating is recommended to help prevent any additional damage.

Because stainless steel is a heavier option, it’s suitable for more permanent furniture installations or pieces you don’t plan on moving.

stainless steel


A popular furniture option, aluminum has lightweight, durable and sturdy features. The metal can also be bent into detailed shapes but is relatively cost-effective and low-maintenance for its high quality. While aluminum never rusts and is weather-resistant, many still recommend a powder coating to help any colors or features resist fading. 

With its light weight, aluminum furniture is easy to move, making it suitable if your business plans on storing items during the off-season. Aluminum furniture is also useful if you don’t mind visitors moving tables or chairs around to suit their needs.


Wrought Iron

Another metal furniture material, wrought iron is heavy and durable. It can withstand heavy winds without blowing over and is a malleable material, making it easy to create ornate designs when heated. Like cast iron, wrought iron is often melted and poured into molds, making the material heavy and hard to manage at points. 

Though wrought iron furniture will last a long time, it can be hard to care for and requires more maintenance and protection when not in use. Remember that wrought iron will also become hot in the summer and cold during the winter. Use upholstery and fabrics to make the furniture more comfortable should you choose to buy wrought iron items.

Synthetic Resin and Plastic

Synthetic resin and plastic are lightweight, cost-effective and often molded into any shape you desire. Added colors are usually included in the resin or plastic chemical design, making this furniture material more resistant to fading. 

One of the benefits of resin and plastic furnishings is their easy cleaning and maintenance requirements. Resin and plastic can also withstand harsh weather and outdoor usage.

Often woven in wicker styles, resin can come in nylon, PVC or polyethylene variations. Molded plastics often use polypropylene or high-quality polyethylene to achieve various sculptural designs and color options. 

Both resin and plastic furniture are easy to move and create flexibility for your business. Some even allow you to install color-changing LEDs if you want to add different lighting features to your outdoor public space design. 


Using fabric on your outdoor furniture is a great way to keep seats comfortable during the day and cool during the summer months. Consider upholstered furniture to create a lounging and relaxing atmosphere. Many fabrics can be made with water-resistant synthetic fibers that prevent water damage during rainy days. Fabrics made from vinyl, acrylic or polyester tend to be the most breathable and resist fading and moisture collection. If your upholstery collects too much moisture, it could begin to rot or mildew.

The fill material of your cushions and pillows is just as important as the fabrics. Consider using foams and fillers that dry quickly or use runoff material. This will eliminate the chance that the insides of your cushions may collect mold and mildew.

Unless you tie these fabric features down, remember to bring them inside during inclement weather or windy days.


3. Keep Inclusivity in Mind

Make sure that most, if not all, of your furniture is ADA-accessible, meaning that people with all kinds of abilities can use your public space. There are many benefits to using ADA-accessible features in your outdoor furniture, like:

  • Inclusion: Use picnic tables with openings for wheelchairs or tables with lots of room underneath. Make sure you have chairs that are easily accessible for those with disabilities and mobility needs. Inclusive seating throughout your outdoor space helps welcome more community members to socialize and interact.
  • Accommodation: Try to accommodate as many people with wheelchairs as possible using tables and seating areas. This consideration expands who your business caters to.
  • Safety: Try to create smooth ground surfaces and chairs that allow easy sitting without slippery or rough surfaces.

4. Think About the Aesthetics of the Space

The aesthetic of your current public space directly affects what kind of furniture you need, especially when it comes to color choices. Many businesses carefully plan their choice of colors to influence the emotions and needs of their customers. Different colors evoke different emotions:

  • Red: This eye-catching color attracts attention and is often used in food service and fast-food restaurants. 
  • Maroon: This warming and traditional red tone conveys passion, warmth and confidence.
  • Orange: Orange encourages enthusiastic and cheerful emotions.
  • Yellow: This is an attention-grabbing color that encourages learning and stimulation. 
  • Green: Green evokes calmness and reflection, often used to convey eco-friendliness or with financing companies.
  • Blue: This color means security, calm, reliability and relaxation. 
  • White: White communicates cleanliness and neutrality.

Colors in the Space

Different light and color choices may also affect the space you want to furnish. Both light and color influence depth perception. For example, light colors create the feel of a larger space, while dark colors evoke a calming and cozy space. 

Your color choices should also work with the space’s functions. If you know that guests or customers will use the area for long periods, you may want to choose colors that encourage concentration or relaxation.

If evoking health and safety is a priority, try to choose colors that reflect warmth. More muted colors tend to give your guests calm and relaxed feelings. 

Restaurants and food service industries may benefit from dark shades or contrasting colors. Some even enjoy using neutral and natural shades for public furniture.

Colors and Actions or Feelings

If you want your customers and guests to feel or act a certain way because of your color choices, try using the following tips:

  • Impulse buying: Use colors like red, black or orange to promote impulse buying. These shades are often in restaurants or outlets. 
  • Savings and trust: Blue and green often reflect the idea of trust in industries like banks and department stores.
  • Inviting tones: Try using colors like yellow to create an inviting atmosphere where customers feel seen.

5. Consider Mounting Styles for Furniture

Mounting styles may affect how permanent and sturdy your furniture feels. The most popular mounting types are portable, surface and in-ground mounts, allowing for flexibility and stable seating. Whether you want a permanent table fixture or seats that can easily be moved around the area, finding the right mounting style can help you create the perfect furnished public space. Your options include:

  • Portable mounts: These are the most flexible, allowing you to put a piece of furniture on any surface and move it around if you choose. A portable mount may be the best option if your business wants furniture that you can easily rearrange. 
  • Surface mounts: Balance stability and security with surface mounts, often used for park benches or bike racks. The hardware comes with pre-drilled holes that work best on surfaces like concrete or asphalt and allow for sturdy but flexible mounting. 
  • In-ground mounts: Choose these for the most permanent option. These mounts come with legs buried in the ground along with poured concrete. In-ground mounts often work best in grassy or dirt areas. Once you’ve used these mounts, the furniture can no longer be moved, providing increased security and durability. Many businesses use in-ground mounts for park benches or tables.
portable mounts

6. Add Pieces That Complement the Space and Elevate the User Experience

Your business may also benefit from different pieces that complement your space and elevate the user experience. This may include anything from trash cans to planters or greenery. Trash cans can help decrease the area’s litter while promoting a clean environment. Try to have trash receptacles placed as frequently as possible to encourage clean streets, community pride and unwanted messes. If appropriately used, the inclusion of recycling bins can also promote a clean and eco-friendly environment. 

Planters and greenery are other great ways to elevate user experience. While adding to the visual appeal of a space, green areas help create a natural and environmental feel to otherwise urban landscapes.

Browse Outdoor Furniture Collections From Wabash Valley Site Furnishings

Furnishing your outdoor space creates a pleasing and relaxing area for guests and customers to sit and socialize. Wabash Valley Site Furnishings offers durable and reliable outdoor furniture to help you decorate your public space and encourage community, activity and socialization. We have some of the highest quality products, powder-coated options and consistent customer support. We serve a variety of markets and industries, from food service, amusement parks, housing units and hospitals to retail stores, restaurants and schools. 

Contact us with any questions, or browse our products today!