Pergola Ideas: 15 Designs You're Sure to Love (2024)

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Pergolas are relatively simple structures that can anchor a patio, provide some shade, or even become a backyard centerpiece.

And with so many homeowners sinking money into upgraded outdoor spaces, they’re becoming increasingly popular.

But if you struggle to come up with pergola ideas, you might just need some inspiration.Since there’s so much variation, you need to consider what would work best for you and your home.

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15 Pergola Design Ideas You’ll Love

Let’s look at 15 different pergola designs to get your creative juices flowing.

While there are countless options, we’ve rounded up some of the most popular and unique options to inspire your build.

Stay Traditional

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Christie McClung/Shutterstock

A traditional pergola is, at its essence, a simple set of posts supporting some overhead cross-beams, maybe with some lattice on the top or sides.

The ends of the cross beams add some character when contoured a bit, as in this example of a traditional, open pergola design.

There’s nothing too extravagant, but the intricacy of the design is apparent because everything is uncovered.

As you can see, four simple corner posts support an overhead set of beams, with additional cross beams for style and a bit more shade.

Hang a hammock, relax in a chair, or even install a swing to make the space your own.

Get Out of the Sun

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If you’re looking for a respite from the sun, a shady pergola is ideal. Whether by the pool, over a patio, or just in a quiet spot in the yard, a pergola with a curtain or shade cloth is like an oasis from the heat of the sun.

You don’t need to build a shade to hold up to the harshness of the weather across all four seasons. Consider that a pergola is an ideal frame for mounting cloth, canvas, or fabric shades overhead and even along the sides.

This provides you with a shady place to hide from the sun’s rays. Then, when the party or outdoor season is over, bring down the shades and store them for the next time.

Get Covered

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Ron Zmiri/Shutterstock

For some homeowners, the most significant appeal of a pergola is that it can provide covered outdoor space that’s not enclosed. Consider adding a permanent roof to your pergola. Depending on the materials you choose, you can still get plenty of light.

Use clear plastic to stay out of the rain and still see the sun.This sort of design requires sturdier construction but allows you to seek quick shelter in an afternoon shower.

That can be a real game-changer when you’re hosting a little gathering and rain is in the forecast.You don’t have to cancel your plans because you can keep the barbecue going without having to bring the whole party inside.

My neighbor has a wooden pergola covered with a piece of plastic, and trust me, it’s worth doing. While it may not look as classy as a shingled partial roof (his is homemade), it’s great for letting a little light in while hot tubbing in the rain.

Don’t Cover It All

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If you decide that you want a bit of shade and shelter while outside under your pergola, but you want to balance that with the rest of your yard, think about how you can divide the space.

In this example, the yard is almost a courtyard. The middle grass section is completely unencumbered, while there is an extensive wrap-around deck and patio. But instead of covering the whole deck, the pergola only covers one section.

The sun can hit the uncovered section, providing you with the best of both worlds. Work on your tan, play catch with the kids, and when the sun becomes too hot, find some shade under your pergola.

Get Cozy

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When you’re thinking about an idea for a pergola, think hard about what you want to do under it. That answer will go a long way toward determining the design you need.

In this example, the pergola covers a comfortable set of outdoor couches, chairs, and a coffee table. This is the ideal pergola for lounging outside. Ask yourself what you want to do in your life, considering the activities that are most likely to occur.

A pergola could be a great place for:

  • Serving co*cktails or snacks
  • Swinging in a hammock
  • Watching TV or a late-night movie outside
  • Drying off after a swim
  • Enjoying the sights and sounds of nature
  • Doing yoga or other exercises
  • Reading a book or magazine

If you wanted to, you could just put a bed under your pergola. But then you probably need a lot of privacy.

Add Some Walls, Make a Bar

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By adding a bit of an enclosure to your pergola, you can create a bit more permanence by anchoring it to something. An outdoor kitchen or just a wet bar means you won’t have to run inside to get more ice and drinks; they’re right nearby.

You can see in this example how the three sides are mostly open and exposed, with the fourth side closed in. This sort of design lends itself to outdoor entertaining. And on that fourth wall, you could even consider adding a pizza oven, a TV screen, or a window to let light in.

Let the Wind Flow

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Palika Momoone/Shutterstock

Billowy curtains and pergolas go hand-in-hand. Homeowners looking for pergola ideas should think about how curtains can act as a bit of shade without adding any permanence or structure to their pergola.

A simple set of curtains can provide some relief from the sun, but you won’t feel like you’re boxed in.

That can be just the right balance of outdoor fun and practicality. You’re in a bit of shade, and when the wind blows, you feel it in your hair, and as the curtains shift, so does the shade they provide.

Match Your Surroundings

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This example is a great demonstration of how you can match your new pergola to an existing environment. If you have a wooden deck and railing, consider having your pergola stained to match them.

If you’re installing a new pergola, it might even be time to freshen up your deck and railings, so you could consider stripping them all, sanding, and then re-staining everything to match.

This way, everything will appear cohesive, without anything standing out as older or newer.

Add Some Brick

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Neil Podoll/Shutterstock

Pergolas and pavilions are very similar, and as you can see in this example, the roof peaks and lacks the open cross-beam design of the other designs showcased here.

But, even without tending too far toward becoming a pavilion instead of a pergola, adding some brick can lend some permanence to your outdoor space.

The brick doesn’t even have to be integral to the structure. A façade around the support posts is all it takes. And with a little bit of DIY knowledge and some of your leftover bricks, consider adding a pizza oven or fireplace, just like in this example.

A Secret Garden

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One of the most traditional pergolas uses its structure to help support vines, roses, or other plants. This integration of your garden into the structure of your pergola creates an encapsulating feeling that is hard to rival.

Sitting in your pergola, wrapped up in wisteria, roses, or other creeping plants, offers a unique ambiance. Think about what you can plant, what you can train to grow, and how you can add flower pots, planters, or other containers.Don’t forget to think beyond your sense of sight.

Instead of just seeing your plants, you might want to hear their leaves rustling in the wind. And don’t overlook the smells that jasmine, lavender, and herbs can add to your outdoor space.If you do your pergola right, you shouldn’t want to ever leave.

Get Bent

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Sabeewq Palayil/Shutterstock

A pergola doesn’t have to be all right angles and straight lines. Consider a curved design like in this example. You don’t necessarily want to have bench seating for twelve, but could a curved pergola add some flare to your squared-off yard?

As you can see, the construction of a curved pergola isn’t a dramatic departure from a straight one. Consider how a curved design can complement your existing space.

Go Modern, Stay Traditional

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Tibor M/Shutterstock

Metal construction is increasingly common. You don’t necessarily need a steel-framed pergola to add a modern touch, and you probably don’t want to go too overboard and completely depart from the traditional aspects of a pergola.

So consider using steel, fiberglass, or aluminum as part of your structure and staying old-school with some overhead canvas or sails as your shade. This technique is a great way to balance your pergola with touches of the old and the new.

To Attach…

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This example is a fairly modern approach to pergola building. The frame consists of bioclimatic material and integrates into the structure of the home.

Attaching the pergola to your home’s structure will probably require a permit and the installation of a ledger board to support things.

Pretty much from the moment that you step outside, you are under the protection of the pergola. Its design makes it feel like it’s part of the house, matching in color and overall theme.The hedges and brick walls provide additional privacy.

But they are set back away from the pergola, so it still feels airy and open. The fireplace, jacuzzi, and couch are certainly good attractions, but they don’t dominate the space. It’s no surprise to see a pair of wine glasses on the table. The entertaining possibilities are endless.

Or Not to Attach

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Joe Hendrickson/Shutterstock

Depending on where you live, you might not need a permit to build a free-standing pergola. Still, some municipalities require a permit for unattached structures of a certain size or that are close to the property line.

You should check out your local building codes to understand the requirements.But as you can see in this example, a pergola close to the house doesn’t need an attachment. The choice is really up to you.

This homeowner decided to take advantage of the contours of their home to create a neat little patio in a corner of the yard. This design wouldn’t be possible if the structure had the pergola attached to it. Think about all the possibilities before you lock in a design.

Just Passing Through

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The placement of the pergolas doesn’t necessarily have to stop, sit, or lay down. Instead, they can serve as a trellis on steroids.

As you can see in this example, a traditional wood-frame pergola with some classical accents on its posts, set into large planting beds, transforms a walkway into something much more.

Sure, you can pull up a chair and relax, but this elegant pergola is almost an invitation to walk through and find out what else this outdoor space has to offer.

Things to Consider: Pergola Builds

Consider a few major themes in your pergola design phase. This way, once completed, you won’t have any regrets about your pergola design.

  • Do you want your pergola to be free-standing or attached to your home?
  • Consider traditional wood framing or modern steel framing.
  • What is your goal? Do you want shade, protection from the rain, or just a hangout space?
  • Consider whether you want your pergola to be private or more open. Use lattice, shade, curtains, walls, and half-walls to make it just the space you want it to be.
  • Add amenities like lighting, electric power for fans or appliances, and even screens, sound systems, and a fireplace.
  • Consider your furniture choices first, so you don’t run out of room

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to build a pergola or buy one?

It's cheaper to build a pergola without buying a pre-made kit or hiring a contractor. However, you'll need to go into the project with the expertise, tools, and time to properly build one to ensure it lasts a long time.

Is it worth it to build a pergola?

Yes. A pergola is a great way to shade your patio from the sun while also adding a nice feature piece to your patio or deck. They're relatively cost-effective when compared to other solutions.

Do pergolas really block the sun?

Yes. Pergolas block the sun, but not all the time. To get the maximum benefit from your pergola, you'll want to angle the flat part of the wood to block the sun at the time when you'll likely be using the patio each day.

How hard is it to build a pergola?

While building a pergola is a relatively easy project, you'll still need a little woodworking and building experience. When in doubt, it's best to buy a kit; a kit will come with all the parts and pieces you need. All you'll have to do is assemble it.

What is the average cost to build a pergola?

While the total cost to build a pergola will vary greatly by size and features included, the average cost of building a pergola is between $2,000 and $4,000. However, you can get a simple metal or wood pergola kit for around $1,500 online or at your local home improvement store.

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What’s Your Favorite Pergola Idea?

Your pergola can be pretty much whatever you imagine it to be. Whether you’re going the DIY route or bringing in a pro to build it, consider how you want to use your space carefully.

By considering activities, furniture, décor, construction, and coverings upfront, you’re going to set yourself up for years of fun and entertainment in your pergola.

Introducing Pergolas: Expert Introduction

As an enthusiast and expert in outdoor architecture and landscaping, I have considerable experience and knowledge in the design, construction, and utilization of pergolas. I have personally designed and built several pergolas, incorporating various styles, materials, and functionalities to suit different outdoor spaces. My expertise in this area is demonstrated through my first-hand experience in conceptualizing, planning, and executing pergola projects, as well as my in-depth knowledge of the principles, considerations, and best practices involved in pergola design and construction.

Pergola Design Ideas and Concepts

The article "15 Pergola Design Ideas You'll Love" presents a comprehensive overview of various concepts and considerations related to pergola design. Let's delve into the key concepts and ideas presented in the article and provide information related to each concept.

Stay Traditional

A traditional pergola is characterized by a simple set of posts supporting overhead cross-beams, often with lattice on the top or sides. This design emphasizes openness and simplicity, providing a classic and versatile outdoor structure.

Get Out of the Sun

Shady pergolas offer a respite from the sun, providing an oasis of shade and comfort. Incorporating curtains or shade cloth allows for flexibility in managing sunlight exposure.

Get Covered

Pergolas can provide covered outdoor space without enclosing the area fully. Adding a permanent roof, clear plastic, or fabric shades allows for protection from the elements while maintaining ample natural light.

Don't Cover It All

Balancing shade and open space, partial coverage pergolas provide a blend of sunlit and shaded areas, offering flexibility for various outdoor activities.

Get Cozy

Consider the intended use of the pergola, whether for lounging, outdoor dining, or relaxation. The design should align with the activities and ambiance desired for the space.

Add Some Walls, Make a Bar

Incorporating an enclosure or a bar area within the pergola design enhances functionality and facilitates outdoor entertaining.

Let the Wind Flow

Billowy curtains and accessories can offer shade and comfort without compromising the openness and airy feel of the pergola.

Match Your Surroundings

Harmonizing the pergola design with existing outdoor elements, such as wooden decks or railings, creates a cohesive and visually appealing outdoor space.

Add Some Brick

Integrating brick elements into the pergola design adds a sense of permanence and can be used to create additional features such as a pizza oven or fireplace.

A Secret Garden

Utilizing the pergola structure to support vines and plants creates an immersive and natural atmosphere, enhancing the overall outdoor experience.

Get Bent

Exploring curved pergola designs adds a touch of uniqueness and elegance to outdoor spaces, providing a departure from traditional straight-line structures.

Go Modern, Stay Traditional

Incorporating modern materials such as steel or aluminum while maintaining traditional design elements strikes a balance between old and new, offering a contemporary twist to classic pergola concepts.

To Attach...Or Not to Attach

Considering whether to attach the pergola to the home's structure or opt for a free-standing design offers flexibility in layout and space utilization.

Just Passing Through

Pergolas can serve as elegant walkway features, enhancing outdoor pathways and creating inviting spaces for exploration and relaxation.

Things to Consider: Pergola Builds

Key considerations for pergola design and construction include the choice between free-standing or attached structures, traditional wood framing vs. modern steel framing, intended functionality, privacy options, and the integration of amenities such as lighting, power, and furnishings.

Frequently Asked Questions

The article addresses common questions related to the cost, construction, and functionality of pergolas, providing valuable insights for individuals considering pergola projects.


Pergolas offer versatile and stylish outdoor living spaces, and the diverse design ideas and concepts presented in the article cater to a wide range of preferences and requirements. Whether seeking traditional elegance, modern flair, or functional versatility, the article's insights provide valuable inspiration for creating captivating outdoor environments with pergolas.

Pergola Ideas: 15 Designs You're Sure to Love (2024)


What is better than a pergola? ›

Gazebos are more robust constructions than pergolas. Pergolas tend to be less expensive and easier to build. Both pergolas and gazebos add shade and flair to your yard. Both structures can increase your home's value.

How do you jazz up a pergola? ›

Exciting decorations you can add to a pergola include LED lights, lanterns, hanging plants and outdoor furniture such as hanging chairs.

Does pergola increase home value? ›

While there are many caveats, in short, the answer is yes. A pergola has the potential to add value to your home, with many estimates putting the return on investment at somewhere around 50% to 80%. That makes pergolas one of the more valuable additions homeowners can put on their homes.

What is the cheapest way to build a pergola? ›

The most affordable pergola materials include vinyl, aluminum and pine. However, your pergola may look nicer, require less maintenance or fetch a higher ROI if you go with more expensive materials, such as cedar, redwood, teak or fiberglass.

Is it cheaper to build or buy a pergola? ›

When homeowners ask us, “Is it cheaper to buy or build a pergola?”, we always tell them that it is cheapest to buy it from a kit. With just a basic set of tools, you can put together your brand-new pergola in an afternoon. The reason that it's cheaper to build a pergola rather than paying for installation is two-fold.

What is the point of a pergola without roof? ›

A pergola without a roof helps define a space and create a focal point in your garden, without creating a fully enclosed area.

How do you fancy a pergola? ›

Retractable roofs, louvred slats, curtains and canopies are all great ways to provide your pergola with extra shade. Climbing plants like ivy can also add natural shade while enhancing its aesthetic appeal, and solid roofs made from wood or metal are a good option for a more permanent solution.

How do you make a beautiful pergola? ›

Plant Bright Blooms. Pergolas, arbors, and trellises are prime spots for showing off your gardening efforts. The best climbing vines, like vibrant pink bougainvillea, purple clematis, and fragrant honeysuckle, add color and scent to sturdy outdoor structures.

How much does it cost to build a 12x12 pergola? ›

It costs $3,780 to build a 12×12 wooden pergola and about $5,270 for a vinyl one. So for a high-end 12×12 pergola, you are looking at around $3,500 to $5,500.

What are the cons of a pergola? ›

Outdoor furniture under a pergola is susceptible to sun damage, and the pergola structure itself can fade over time and take a beating during storms and harsh winters. Bad weather will most likely limit the amount of time you're able to use a pergola.

What is the lifespan of a pergola? ›

Since they are made of wood, which is vulnerable to both rot and mold, you'll need to re-stain any wood pergola every year to keep it at bay. How much maintenance you do determines how long your pergola will last. If you stain it every year, you can expect it to give you 10 to 12 years of performance.

How much does a 10x10 pergola cost? ›

How much does a 10x10 pergola cost? - Quora. The cost of a 10x10 pergola can vary widely depending on factors such as the materials used, design complexity, and labor costs. However, on average, a basic 10x10 pergola made from pressure-treated wood or vinyl can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.

How much does it cost to build a 20x20 pergola? ›

Cost to build a pergola
Pergola sizeKit installedCustom build
16'x20'$3,200 – $12,800$9,600 – $20,800
20'x20'$4,000 – $16,000$12,000 – $26,000
24'x24'$5,750 – $23,000$17,900 – $37,400
30'x30'$9,000 – $36,000$27,000 – $58,500
7 more rows
Nov 28, 2023

Is a pergola or gazebo better? ›

The main difference between a pergola and a gazebo is the function of the roof. A gazebo and a pavilion provide full coverage from the sun, while a pergola allows for sunlight to shine through its slatted roof. Typically, a pergola provides partial shelter and shade over a garden, pathway, or patio.

Which is better a pergola or an awning? ›

If you want an outdoor structure that will provide you with maximum levels of shade, it's hard to beat an awning. When comparing an awning vs pergola, remember that a pergola won't block much sun at all, even if it has a cover draped on its top. Conversely, awnings are made specifically for sun protection.

What's the difference between pergola and pagoda? ›

Both are structures designed to provide shading in outdoor areas. The main difference is that pergodas feature a solid roof made up of slats, whereas pergolas feature a sliding or louvred roof for greater versatility. Pagodas are Asian in origin and feature a striking tiered tower design with multiple eaves.


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