Recently, I’ve been thinking about getting outdoor furniture to add to our garden. As many of you know, I’ve certainly become more spiritual in the last 6-7 years and have got into yoga and meditation (see Life in the Right Direction), so it will be no surprise that I took notice of a local company making wooden garden furniture called “Sitting Spiritually” (I have no affiliation with them, I’m just interested).
There were many things I liked about “Sitting Spiritually” when I first looked at their website – they are fairly local to where I live (southern England), they make bespoke furniture using local artisans, each piece is one of a kind and they aim for a beautiful finish to and exceptional standard. I decided to ask them a few questions and they we so kind to answer them well and to allow me to publish their answers here. They even sent me some of their photos to include.
Here are the exact questions I asked Sitting Spiritually and their verbatim answers.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the standard types of garden furniture people might be contemplating?
The main unique feature of our seats is that they are made with timber. Being a natural material, they work fantastic in the garden and can be incorporated in to almost any garden design seamlessly. Rather than sticking out like a sore thumb, the timber mellows with it’s surroundings and looks just stunning.
14 years of research into making our swings beautiful, not just to look at, but with such detailed ergonomics that once you sit on them – you won’t want to get off.
We honed in on the finest details over the years, concise changes in angles and shapes that will refine and improve our products. The seats we manufacture now are undoubtedly better than the ones we first made when we started out, in another 10 years time we expect to be able to say the exact same thing.
The quality of the material we use is incredibly important to us. We regularly seek to find new suppliers or timbers that are an improvement on what we have been using.
Sitting Spiritually’s furniture is wooden. What do you do to the wood to make is last a long time? Do you use chemicals? And. what needs to be done every year to maintain your furniture?
Ultimately, how long they last depends on how well they are looked after. Sitting Spiritually has been making swing seats for over 14 years, and we still have our very first swing seats on show in our garden looking every bit as good as when we first made them – and they’ve been very well used!
Wood, if neglected, will be at risk of algae building up and rotting when subjected to the elements. It’s really important the swing seats are looked after with regular, easy care.
As a natural material, when timber is exposed to the elements it will mature and change colour over time. It will naturally mellow to a lovely silver hue that characterises outdoor wooden furniture. During the first few months, it will require very little care and maintenance – perhaps a light clean to keep off any algae or dirt.
Over time and the changing seasons, the timber will lose its natural oils that sit on the surface of the frame. These oils play an important role, they prevent the water becoming ingrained in the natural fissures of the wood and stop fungi developing. Fortunately, it’s a straightforward job to remedy this.
As the furniture ages and mellows to that beautiful weathered grey, we highly recommend using a product called Net-Trol, a wood cleaner and brightener used to restore greyed and weathered wood. It effortlessly removes both surface and ground-in dirt leaving the wood looking bright and vibrant. It removes the need for aggressive power-washing which can cause the wood to become rough.
Next, once it is dry, give it a thorough sanding using disc/hand sanding starting with 80 and finishing with 120 grit .
We then recommend applying a wood oil called ‘Deks Olje D1’. It’s a saturating oil that feeds the wood to replace lost oils. It drives out any moisture and air present in the wood and fills the pores with oil. This enriches and stabilises the wood to provide long-lasting protection to both interior and exterior timber.
How frequently does the cleaning, sanding and oiling normally need to be done?
We would recommend as a minimum an annual clean – which depending on the age of the seat may include a sand and oil. A regular wash and clean will help maintain the appearance of the oiling applied.
It will gradually lighten over time due to exposure to the sun and UV rays. When the wood has lightened to a light grey colour, it is time for a maintenance application and oiling.
In saying that, however, many people very much enjoy the lovely silver hue and prefer that look – so may wish to oil it less frequently. It’s all down to preference!
How do you source your wood? Is it from a sustainable source?
All of the wood we use comes under the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) meaning we know what tree it has come from.
The Kyokusen, Tranquillity and the swinging day bed are both made with oak that grows on the Northern border of Germany near Poland. In our experience, the further East in to Europe you travel the slower the wood grows and the denser it is, meaning it is incredibly tough (much to our makers troubles!) and long-lasting.
The Serenity swing seat comes in Western Red Cedar which we source from Canada. We’ve experimented with English Red Cedar but found it grows too fast and doesn’t have the properties we need.
We also use preservative treated Scandinavian Pine for our Harmony range, a grade called ‘unsorted’ which is the highest quality available, resulting in fewer knots.
Where do you make the furniture, is it local?
We have a strong belief in working with local businesses and local people and focus very much towards that. We have 5 joiners who all work under license for us within about a 5 mile radius of our base in Lyme Regis, Dorset. Those haven’t changed in over 5 years now.
One of the fortunate things about living in the South West of England in this little part of the world is there are three main industries: agriculture, tourism and building. Therefore, if you’re in building and running your own joinery business, you have to be good at it. This provides Sitting Spiritually with some fantastic access to local tradesman and businesses to make our swing seats. We’re immensely proud of our local roots and will always seek to keep our business here in the South West.
Our ethos is to develop an outstanding local team of craftspeople and suppliers that are totally committed to enhancing the brand that is Sitting Spiritually.
Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, rather than a nationally-owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.
If I were to put your furniture on grass, I’d be worried that it would be difficult to control the grass growth and that it might not be inviting to use the furniture. What’s the best surface to put the furniture on?
The seat can ultimately go anywhere you like! Ideally the site needs to be level.
If you want to stand it on a lawn, we recommend putting it there and leaving it for a while to check it’s where you want it. After that you just need to put a paving slab under each leg so you can get around with a mower. If it proves as popular as expect it will, you’ll likely wear the grass underneath so you might wish to put something there too.
You can also set the back legs in to a bed with a paving slab under each leg which is a popular option, that way you can let the plants grow under and around the swing seat. Sometimes the motion of the swing seat wafts around the scent of the flowers for a truly serene experience.
Do wasps sometimes nest in the crevices of your furniture?
Interesting question – this isn’t something we’ve experienced, no.
Does Sitting Spiritually install the furniture or do the clients have to put it together?
Yes, for a swing seat and frame we use a local removals company called Saturn Removals who will take your swing seat from the workshop and deliver to your door. They’ll assemble the frame in position for you before inviting you to sit on them for testing and adapt it to your personal height.
Going ahead with Sitting Spiritually?
So now it’s a matter for me to consider what piece would suit my garden the best and whether I’m prepared to spend the money just now. I certainly would like to have one of Sitting Spiritually’s pieces in my garden. Decisions, decisions…
Sitting Spiritually’s website is https://www.sittingspiritually.co.uk