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Patio Designs Part 1: Adding an Outdoor Room to Your Home


When it comes to beautifying your home, outdoor rooms are all the rage. Not only do they look elegant and sophisticated to guests and anyone who gets a passing glimpse of your backyard, but they also provide an additional space for entertaining. Plus, outdoor rooms add value to your home. That means another selling point to entice potential buyers if you eventually put your house on the market.

With a number of styles and materials to consider, there is no shortage of beautiful structures to choose from when adding to your backyard. Whether your home is a cape, ranch, colonial, Victorian or modern, finding the perfect outdoor room simply requires a bit of browsing and planning. The options include retractable awnings, which attach to your home and provide a shaded area that you control; gazebos, which you may have seen on your local village green; pavilions, which feature four posts and a solid roof for full shade and protection from the rain; and pergolas, which are similar to pavilions but instead offer a lattice style roof to allow for partial sunlight. For this first installment of our patio designs blog, we are going to focus on pergolas.

Pergolas are extremely versatile, and they are found in a variety of settings: wineries, public parks and gardens, the outdoor seating areas of restaurants and so on. Residentially, pergolas may be placed in a number of different areas of the property, but the most popular places for this structure are over the deck and/or patio, or beside the pool. These are common choices for homeowners because of the pleasant part-shade, part-sun atmosphere created by the pergola. Oftentimes you will find a table and chairs beneath the pergola for dining, or outdoor furniture — sofas, lounge chairs, coffee tables and so on — for relaxing. The sun and shade provided by the pergola makes this space enjoyable at all times of day, so your outdoor room is the perfect place for sipping morning coffee, taking a break from the pool, or snacking on appetizers in the early evening (we love the idea of adding decorative lighting to the roof for even more ambiance). Plus, pergolas pair well with fire pits or outdoor fireplaces, allowing you to extend the use of your outdoor room into the fall.

Depending on the size of your deck or patio, you may choose to opt for a structure that covers the entire space, or one that sits on just a portion of the area. The two most popular construction materials are vinyl and wood. When purchased from a quality provider, both are long-lasting, but the vinyl requires less maintenance over the years. With vinyl, upkeep will consist of simple power washing as needed, whereas wood looks best when it is stained or sealed every year or two. When choosing between the two, we recommend taking into account the look of the surrounding area. What color is your home? If your siding is a solid green or red, the rich look of a wooden pergola may provide a nice contrast. On the other hand, a bright white vinyl pergola may really pop against a house with cedar shakes or shingles.

Once you have narrowed in on the material, the next step is selecting a style. First, there is the traditional pergola, which features a flat lattice with scalloped ends and notched intersections. Then there are pergolas that offer an arched lattice covering, and others that combine both wood and vinyl, with the former as the ceiling and the latter as the beams. Customization is easy too, thanks to decorative post skirts, post trim, stone columns and privacy walls. Sun shade canopies are also available to provide additional shade coverage. These add a gorgeous pop of color to the structure, and the backyard as a whole. We also love the idea of adding sheer curtains to the sides of the pergola to make an elegant statement.

After you have decided on the location, size, material and design of your pergola, it is time to think about installation. Some big box stores sell pergola kits advertised as DIY, but our final recommendation (and perhaps the most important one!) is that your pergola be installed by a professional. After all, a pergola is an investment designed to improve the look of your property. From properly anchoring the structure to your deck or patio to setting up finishing touches like the shade canopy, trained installers know what to do each step of the way. Plus, depending on the size of the structure, concrete footings may be necessary for installation. Lastly, do keep in mind that it is a good idea to plan well ahead of the season, and allow four to six weeks for design and construction.

Check back soon for Part 2 of our Patio Designs blog, where we will discuss pavilions, another type of outdoor room structure.