Originally Published on May 8, 2021. Last Updated on May 30, 2023.
The right pergola can amp up the ambiance in any space. These charming outdoor additions provide a balance of shade, sunlight, style, and privacy for your backyard festivities, from intimate dinner parties to lavish cocktail hours.
There are many beautiful pergola styles available. To save you some time, we’ve researched the best ones and narrowed the list to our 25 favorite pergola ideas.
Build the deck of your dreams with these pergola ideas.
1. Modern Pergola
Create an airy, cohesive design with a modern freestanding pergola on your platform deck. Completely open on all four sides, it coordinates with the deck’s clean-lined look and allows for areas of sunshine and shade.
2. Attached Pergola
If you have a balcony deck, opt for a pergola that seamlessly integrates into the railing in place of a balustrade. One side connects to your house while the supporting pillars are built into the deck’s railings, making the pergola look like a natural extension of your home instead of an add-on.
3. Double-Decker Pergola
Have one coordinated look for the spaces on and underneath your second-story deck with a double-decker pergola. One attached pergola on the deck and the other at ground level add shade, privacy, and a defined style.
4. Reclaimed Wood Pergola
Take an eco-friendly approach to outdoor living and build a DIY pergola out of reclaimed wood. When searching for materials, look for western red cedar or Douglas fir—both kinds of wood are durable and naturally insect- and rot-resistant.
5. Vinyl Pergola
Vinyl pergolas give your home a clean, classy look while providing minimal upkeep. Your color options are limited since they mostly come in various shades of white. However, white is a versatile neutral that goes with a variety of vignettes.
6. Fiberglass Pergola
A fiberglass pergola is an excellent option if you live in a coastal climate because it’s highly durable and non-porous, making it resistant to harsh weather, rust, and corrosion. Like vinyl, these structures are available in clean neutral colors like white and beige (but that’s nothing a coat of exterior acrylic latex paint can’t change).
7. Pergola with Transparent Panels
If you want to enjoy your space come rain or shine, install transparent panels on top of your pergola. They’ll keep you and your family dry on drizzly days without being completely closed off.
8. Slat Wood Pergola
Slat wood pergolas use thin overhead beams that sit close together, which creates a “fanned” look. It’s a chic aesthetic that offers a bit more shade than its grid-roofed relative, making it ideal for areas that receive a lot of sun exposure.
9. Southwestern Pergola
Southwestern-style pergolas are a rustic-rugged mix of colors and textures. You can achieve this look with a honey-hued wooden design, terra-cotta accents, and pops of turquoise.
Want shade, sun, privacy, and open space on your patio? A pergola has you covered for all of the above.
10. Poolside Pergola
Create a shady spot by the water with a cantilevered L-shaped pergola. This practical design takes up less floor space, giving you more room to walk around.
11. Pergola with Stone Posts
Choosing a pergola with stone columns adds extra support and texture to a setting. For a cohesive look, construct the posts using the same stone in your patio’s surrounding hardscaping. If the pergola will cover your outdoor kitchen or bar, take the design a step further by building post-to-post stone ledges lined with outdoor seating where family can relax and sip cold beverages.
12. Hot Tub Pergola
Treat your hot tub area to extra ambiance by erecting a pergola around it. Choose a lattice-wall style that adds privacy but still leaves space for the breeze to come in. String outdoor lighting overhead to set the mood when the sun goes down.
13. Fire Pit Pergola
A well-built pergola over your fire pit area provides a cozy atmosphere on those cool, starry nights. You can style a fire pit table and matching chairs in the middle or build your pergola around the chimney of a tall brick fireplace situated on one side. Just be mindful of placement and ventilation to ensure safety.
14. Outdoor Home Theater Pergola
Cinephiles, rejoice! You can create an outdoor home theater with a large pergola structure. Install a retractable screen and projector to the pergola’s overhead beams and outdoor speakers in the upper corners to get the whole cinematic experience.
15. Outdoor Kitchen Pergola
Cover your kitchen with a pergola to add extra protection for your outdoor appliances and shade to keep you cool when you fire up the grill. Not only that, you can hang baskets of herbs and vegetables from the rafters to keep fresh foods on hand while you cook.
A pergola is the ideal shade solution if you have an uncovered front porch. Find a perfect-fit pergola for your porch with these inspiring ideas.
16. Rustic Pergola
If you have a ranch or countryside home, set up a relaxing spot with a rustic pergola as the centerpiece. You could build a weathered wooden pergola with a tin roof or opt for a thick-beamed structure with dark metal hardware for an industrial farmhouse feel.
17. Pergola with a Built-in Swing
Whether it’s storytime with grandkids or me-time with a good book, a pergola with a hanging swing or daybed is the perfect setting for those special moments. Just remember to pick a weatherproof swing that matches your pergola’s color scheme, and check that it’s strong enough to hold hanging furniture capacity before installation.
18. Small Pergola
You don’t need a huge structure to make a statement. A petite pergola covering a secluded reading area or cozy dining spot on your porch is just what you need to complete an inviting front-of-house look.
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19. Dome Pergola
Constructing a dome-shaped pergola over your garden offers prime real estate for hanging planters and vining flowers. Imagine being cozied up on an outdoor sofa beneath the pergola’s shade, enjoying your morning tea and admiring the pink and purple clematis climbing the rafters.
20. Pergola with Trellis Screens
While the pergola provides protection overhead, trellis screens give you more shade and privacy on the sides. You can also train vining plants to grow up the screens for added coverage and ambiance.
21. Triangle Pergola
If your garden sits in the corner of your property, choose a pergola with a triangular rafter design. Go modern with a geometrical metal structure, or choose an elegant frame with fanned-out overhead beams.
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22. Wavy Pergola
Add a touch of whimsy to your walkway with a wavy pergola. This curved cover is an advanced project, so it’s best to let professionals handle it. After it’s all said and done, expect a wave of compliments from neighbors and friends.
23. Zig-Zag Pergola
This unique pergola design is more about form than function. Though it doesn’t offer much shade, the overhead zig-zag pattern is ideal for hanging lights and vines, allowing you to add just enough coverage to garden paths without making the space feel closed in.
24. Botanical Pergola
Turn any ordinary pathway into a magical secret passage by covering it with a long wooden pergola festooned with English ivy or wisteria. Add strands of softly glowing lights overhead for extra enchantment.
25. 3D Pergola Tunnel
Mesmerize guests with a pergola tunnel boasting a three-dimensional effect. To trick the eye, all you need to do is install a straight line of equally spaced square posts. Anyone who walks through the tunnel will be instantly enthralled.
What is a Pergola?
A pergola is a structure that creates a shaded area for your outdoor space. It’s a type of gazebo generally built with vertical posts that support crossbeams or an open lattice. A pergola is often covered in climbing plants, such as grapevines.
What’s the difference between a pergola, a gazebo, and an arbor?
The terms “pergola,” “gazebo,” and “arbor” are often used interchangeably. However, there are notable differences between these backyard structures.
- Is attached to a home or a standalone structure
- Square or rectangle shape
- Open roof with intersecting or parallel beams
- Solid roof and raised platform
- Standalone structure
- Round or polygonal shape
- Smaller than a pergola or gazebo
- Rounded roof
- Landscaping or entrance accent
What are the pros and cons of a pergola?
Knowing the pros and cons of owning a pergola can help you decide if you want to install one on your property.
- They make outdoor spaces more attractive.
- The frames don’t limit floor space.
- Pergolas are made with very durable materials.
- Pergolas are less expensive than gazebos.
- Pergolas don’t offer full protection from the sun and rain.
- More space is needed to hold these large structures.
- Pergolas require regular maintenance.
- Cleaning all the roof’s nooks and corners can take a while.
What is the point of having a pergola?
Having a pergola gives you more opportunities to get outside by extending overhead coverage into your backyard. You can add panels to the roof for additional protection, allowing you to sit in the shade on summer days and stay dry when it rains.
How to Choose the Best Pergola
Follow these steps to lock in the perfect pergola for your property.
- Check HOA rules. If you belong to an HOA, find out if there are any covenant restrictions regarding accessory structures.
- Determine your budget. Managing money will manage expectations, preventing you from falling head-over-heels for a pergola that’s out of your price range.
- Consider utility. Think about how you want a pergola to serve your family, and select one that meets your needs.
- Measure your space. Having the correct dimensions helps you find the right shape and size.
- Consider the existing architecture. Let your home’s style, color scheme, and composition guide your choices.
- Pick a style you like. Your outdoor spaces should fit seamlessly with the rest of your home and showcase your personality.