7 Pergola Design Tips to Get You Started

Jane Austin once wrote, “To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment” and who am I to argue? By the way, verdure is another word for vegetation, and yes, I had to look it up. But the point is, an outdoor pergola is the perfect stylish, practical, and romantic way to “sit in the shade on a fine day.”  

These functional and stylish structures consist of vertical posts or pillars that support trelliswork or beams across the top. Many homeowners dress up pergolas with fragrant vines or fabric to add elegance, more shade, and protection from the elements.

Pergolas have certainly stood the test of time. For centuries these structures provided shade and beauty for the elites of Roman and Egyptian culture seeking shelter from the ancient sun. Hundreds of years later, these timeless structures have spread to all corners of the globe as gorgeous garden fixtures that amplify the beauty of any home. It’s no mystery why this outdoor structure is still so popular.

Pergolas are wonderful, versatile structures that create visual interest, define an outdoor room, and add charm. Listed below are 7 pergola design tips that will help you get started.

Attached Pergola
Simpson Design Group Architects
  • Unlike covered patios with solid roofs, pergolas allow filtered sunlight into an outdoor space. You can determine how much sun or shade the pergola provides by varying the size, spacing and orientation of the rafters. Add a retractable canopy and you have even more versatility.
  • Outdoor curtains can easily be draped between posts to add romantic appeal and provide even more protection from the elements. Another perk over an open patio.
  • Unlike a Victorian gazebo, which sometimes sits in a yard unused and rotting, pergolas are an open, inviting outdoor room.
  • Pergolas are generally larger than arbors and maximize your outdoor space.
  • A more permanent architectural structure than trellises, pergolas feature solid beam construction and a stable horizontal roof structure.
  • Attached to a home, pergolas provide a graceful transition from indoor to outdoor space. However, pergolas can also be used as a freestanding structure that isn’t attached to the house – an advantage over a patio that can’t be moved. A pergola can be strategically placed to block out unsightly views or flaws in your yard, frame a focal point, or create a sitting area.
  • Did I mention this structure’s flexibility? Pergolas can be simple or rustic, consisting of simple columns and crossbeams. On the other hand, depending on budget, materials, and your imagination, pergolas quickly become sophisticated and luxurious with ornate molding and trim, expensive wood and natural stone flooring.

For DIY lovers, a pergola is a moderately easy project to tackle with a bit of construction knowledge and the right tools. An abundance of plans for every budget are available on the Internet as well as kits with pre-cut lumber and hardware included.

In conclusion, a pergola with romantic climbing roses, fragrant vines, or elegant fabrics can provide a peaceful, relaxing retreat for morning coffee, an afternoon cup of tea, or an evening cocktail. The structures also provide shade and protection from the elements so you can “look upon verdure” with comfort. That makes pergolas the perfect addition to any outdoor space.