So, I’ve been scoping out the latest in casual outdoor furniture, lately — not for me, though. It’s for my pal Jack who (frankly) is so resistant to change, he just can’t ever seem to make a decision… Naturally, I’m happy to make it for him, the poor man!

Anyway, Jack has a really charming brick townhouse in the city, with several of those chair-style hammocks hanging on his covered verandah.  Not the proper hammock chairs, with structure and cushions (I like those), but the rope chairs with nothing much more to them than a fishing net hung up on a half-hoop of wood.  You know the kind I mean? The curved wood support will dig into your spine and make you hunch over like an old witch, not elegant or comfortable, no matter how you try to sit. If you’re looking to spend a warm summer night with a few good friends, talking over old times and watching the moths fly circles around the streetlights… you just don’t want to be doing it all twisted up like a pretzel.

Left to his own devices, Jack would just stick with that furniture forever,  and all his friends will end up far beyond the reach of Robaxacet. He’ll be carrying us all home, one of these days, I swear — or paying for a chiropractor. Ain’t none of us gettin’ any younger, you know!

Hammock chair

Don’t get me wrong — I love my own hammock. It’s one of those great big family-sized Mexican cotton-string units, and I’ve got it stretched between two century-old maple trees just out beside this old farmhouse of mine. Just the thought of it evokes lazy summer days, a little Jimmy Buffett on the headphones, and nowhere special you need to be… sheer Heaven!

But let’s be honest: Who among us really finds a hammock all that comfortable, after the first few minutes of lounging in the shade with your frosty Margarita? If you’re lying down, okay, maybe. But sitting up or lounging, reading or chatting, soaking in the passing parade? That’s where you really need a nice gently swinging hammock chair – the real kind of good padded swing chair – or at least, that’s what Jack needs.

Now, for outdoor furniture styles, I have to say that Adirondack chairs (sometimes called Muskoka chairs) are my sentimental favourite (wooden slats, low seats, high curved backs, broad arm-rests) — it just says “cottage country,” doesn’t it? And you see them all painted up in bold clear primary colours — cobalt blue, say — gorgous! But those big wooden chairs are just plain heavy, no fun to drag around if you need to mow the lawn, and on a porch they take up a lot of space.

So here’s what I’m thinking — since Jack has his heart set on a hammock chair, but he really needs (a) comfort for his guests as well as himself and (b) good use of limited space – what about something like a double-wide Outback Lounger, or Nags Head, or similar style?

I don’t know if you’ve seen these padded canvas swing loungers, but they’re a good compromise between chairs and hammocks, and I really like the strong clean lines — very crisp, very yacht-club, yet very laid-back summertime.

Deluxe Cushioned Double Porch Swing by Hatteras HammocksHatteras Hammocks has this cool  double-size lounger, 42 inches across in the seat. I’ll have to measure Jack’s porch again, but I think the Hatteras Double Porch Swing would fit just beautifully in at the end of the porch, side on, with its back towards the side railing and the next-door neighbours.

Then he can keep a couple of his old hammock chairs (if he insists) and turn them towards the Outback Lounger, with maybe a low narrow table in between. Everyone can still watch what’s happening out on the street, but a little less of the lining up like in one long row theatre seats! Better for the conversation… and also, that’ll free up about one-third of the length of his porch, leaving plenty of room for a second grouping of seats, if he wants, or maybe a little bar-and-grill area for getting down to some serious entertaining.

Photo credits: A hammock/chair by William Whyte, on Flickr; Hattera Hammocks double porch swing, courtesy of

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