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Which Pergola Is Right for You?

  • Pergola1.jpg

     (Ventura Homes / Houzz)

  • Pergola2.jpg

     (Eckersley Garden Architecture / HOUZZ)

  • Pergola3.jpg

     (Bawtree Design | Architecture + Interiors / HOUZZ)

Whether you’re planning an outdoor entertaining area or want to improve the one you have, a covered pergola could be the missing ingredient that creates a versatile space you can use no matter what the weather’s doing. These inspiring options will have you transforming your own outdoor room before you know it.

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Transparent. Indoor-outdoor living is what many of us aspire to, but it pays to consider the seasons when you’re designing a covered outdoor area. This glass-covered pergola attached to a home in Perth, Australia, lets the sunshine flood in when needed, but it also gives the homeowners the chance to keep sweltering temperatures at bay. Remote-controlled retractable awnings above the glass are the solution to the intense heat, and overhead fans keep the air moving.

Wood paneling. If shade is what you need to make your outdoor zone more usable, a wood-lined pergola could be the way to go. Consider incorporating a couple of panels of clear, corrugated roofing to let some light in.

Plant cover. If you’re looking for shade but aren’t too worried about protecting your outdoor area from the rain, covering your pergola with vegetation could be an appealing option. For cool climates, building designer Paul Caracoglia of The Drafting Studio suggests planting deciduous vines on a wood pergola. Wisteria, for example, opens the area to the sun in winter but keeps it cool and shady in summer.

Tip: Outdoor furniture covers are a budget-friendly alternative for protecting your furniture from the elements.

Alternatively, bamboo shading adds a textural element to a casual outdoor living area and can deliver the shade you’re looking for without busting the budget.

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Slats. Wood slats won’t keep out the rain, but if shade is your goal, they’re a stylish option to consider. The wood dining table and planter boxes in this Melbourne, Australia, home’s outdoor entertaining area bring the look together.

Tip: Think creatively when it comes to the design of your pergola. Unlike with additions, which are often designed to contrast dramatically with the original house, Caracoglia suggests matching a pergola to the style of the home.

“I would try to match the pergola to the theme of the house,” he says. “I’d look at what’s already there so it doesn’t stand out.”

Find New Patio Furniture on Houzz

Metal. Laser-cut screens add a contemporary look to outdoor areas, and are favored by architect Dominic Bagnato because they provide shade and privacy without blocking too much light. Metal cladding is another option, Bagnato says. “Copper or zinc is the way to go if you are trying to show it off,” he adds.

Awnings and shades. A waterproof awning by Outrigger Awnings and Sails makes this outdoor area cool and comfortable without making the space dark.

Lined. Insulated roofing can create a seamless effect between indoor and outdoor areas and can keep a deck or pergola far cooler than other covering materials. Lined ceilings can also be handy when it comes to installing lighting and overhead fans — there will be no electrical wires in sight.

Louvers. Louvered pergolas allow you to control the light at will. With the flick of a switch you can close the louvers completely if you and your guests are caught in a downpour in the middle of lunch.

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