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Should you buy IKEA Outdoor Furniture? The Lowdown on Skarpo and Applaro

If you’ve been eyeing off the IKEA outdoor furniture range and you’re contemplating a purchase, read this review first. I’ve put both the IKEA Applaro and Skarpo range to the test over the course of a year or more – across multiple states and weather conditions – and here’s the lowdown.

Oh, and if you want to see the latest and greatest outdoor furniture releases from IKEA and similar brands, this post has you covered.

IKEA Outdoor Furniture Review: Skarpo and Applaro

IKEA outdoor furniture review Skarpo Outdoor Armchair

Skarpo Outdoor Armchair

I’d just moved into a new home a few years back when I was still living in Sydney, and I was desperate for some armchairs for my apartment’s second-storey balcony. It was close to New Year’s Eve and we had a great vantage point of the city skyline (hello fireworks show) so I needed something to sit in.

I was on a tight budget at the time (aren’t I always?), and IKEA Tempe was just minutes up the road from me, so off I went to secure two Skarpo outdoor armchairs.

Originally, I purchased them not intending to sit on them for long. I mean, they don’t look particularly comfortable and they’re made from plastic, but the idea wasn’t to use them for hours at a time. And I thought I might purchase some cushions for them down the track if needed.

The Good and the Bad

I’ve gotta say (and I’ve had them for two years now), they’re so much more comfortable than I thought – and that’s without cushions.

I also like that you can stack them on top of one another, so when we moved house they were easy to transport. They also have a drainage hole in them so they don’t catch the rain. And mine haven’t faded. Or if they have, the grey colour has faded in a way that’s gradual and still looks great.

For $69, I was pleasantly surprised by the Skarpo. Do keep in mind though, they are large. They take up more floor space than you think, so I wouldn’t recommend them for small balconies. They certainly dominate the area.

Only downside: You’ll have to wipe them down regularly if left outside uncovered. Around the small drainage hole on the seat, dirt collects. But that’s not a huge deal.

The plastic also gets hotter than the sun on a warm day, so do bear in mind that you’ll have to cover them up if this is of major concern.

IKEA Outdoor Furniture Setting - Balcony Makeover

Applaro Outdoor Furniture

I actually completed a balcony makeover using the IKEA Applaro Furniture range in 2014 when I was still living in Sydney (check out the post here), but of course, you never know how outdoor furniture is going to hold up over the years until you’ve experienced it over the course of a few summers.

At the time, I purchased a tonne of cushions to go with the setting, because an outdoor area needs softness and mine was a bit gloomy looking because of its positioning, tile colour and overhead roof.

I was in a rental home at the time, so I did my best to jazz it up. Since then, I’ve moved from Sydney to Melbourne and now the furniture sits outside in the direct sun – so it’s definitely copped its fair share of rays.

IKEA Outoor Furniture - Cushions

The Good and the Bad

The Applaro range is made from Acacia wood and it comes in pieces, so as with most IKEA products you will be getting acquainted with your Allen key again. The assembly was pretty easy though.

You buy the range in one-seater sections for $85 each. This section is just the chair with a back and no arms. Or you can opt to get a chair with a side arm/corner section for $100. Because my balcony was small and I needed multiple layout options, I opted for no corner section. The corner section does curve out and take up a bit of room, and at the time I just didn’t have the space to spare!

I think selling them in pieces is a genius idea. It allows you to completely customise how you want to lay the furniture out. You can also attach singular chairs together so they form a two, three or four-seater lounge (and so on), or you can leave them unattached. I leave mine unattached, just for versatility’s sake.

Note: You have to buy cushions to go on the base and back. Well, you don’t have to, but sitting on the wood alone is not going to be comfortable. I purchased the HALO back cushion and seat cushion for each chair and they’re great. Do wash the cushions regularly though, and bring them inside when it rains. I neglected mine and they got mould on them, which I now can’t get out. #epicfail.

The biggest upside: In over a year outdoors the wood has not needed oiling. This was the most amazing part of the whole experience. I once had a competitor outdoor setting that was wood and every six months it needed to be re-oiled. And it never looked the same as when I got it. So far, the IKEA range hasn’t faded at all. Winning.

Want more info? Explore the Outdoor Furniture range from IKEA here.

Do you have either the Skarpo or the Applaro IKEA Outdoor Furniture range? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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14 Responses

  1. I just bought an Applaro loveseat bench at IKEA , but I can’t find a suitable cushion to go with it…. I would like a back cushion too that’s all in one piece… is there anything out there? Pls help thanks


  2. Hi there,
    I love the Skarpo chairs from IKEA but am wanting them in charcoal. Do you know if there are any around?

  3. Looking to buy the applaro dining set, but hesitant about wood due to maintenance and our winters are cold (no room to bring table in so must cover and hope for the best). How many years did you Applaro furniture last?

    Thank you for sharing your review just curious if it lasted more than your 1 year in your article. Appreciate your help and have a great day.

  4. Hello, my Ikea store does not have these items on display, I wanted to test these for comfort before purchasing. Can anyone tell me if they are suitable to sit/lay on for extended periods of time. Is the backrest set at the correct angle? It also appears some cushions are deeper/more plush than others. Any feedback welcome. Thank you

  5. Hi Chris, thanks a lot for your post. I myself have Applaro furniture and I’m really pleased, but because in my country (Poland) you can expect heat and heavy rains during summer I keep them on the porch with a roof. Anyway, they also survived -10 in the wintertime intact, so so far so good:). And right now I’m just thinking about Skarpo armchairs for our open-air terrace, and objective feedback is just sth I need right now :).

  6. Why is the Applaro line ONLY recommended for outdoor use? I would like to use it to bring an outdoor feel inside. Thanks!

  7. Chris – I realize this is two years ago but thanks so much for it! I bought the set and am looking for covers. Did you cover yours at all? We live California so they will get lots of sun, thanks for any insight! Best Dharti

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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