The Art of Shade: Chic Patio Cover Ideas

A deck with a glass fence with a white sofa next to a pool.

While sunny days can be glorious, let’s face it – when the temperatures get high enough, even the biggest sun lover can long for a stray cloud overhead. Luckily, there are many creative ways to add patio shade to your outdoor space. Whether you want a wooden pergola with vines and flowers for chic relief or a classic market umbrella, there are plenty of ways to add stylish comfort to your patio. With warmer temperatures right around the corner, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite patio cover ideas for this summer.

Outdoor sitting area with a gray sofa and chair covered with a large umbrella.

Patio Cover Ideas: Patio Umbrellas

Umbrellas are among our favorite patio cover ideas. Not only do they provide much-needed shade on hot days, but they also protect your furniture, enhance the design of your space and provide an ideal temperature for lounging. In fact, umbrellas made with high-quality UV-resistant fabrics can make the air feel up to 10 degrees cooler! On days where the highs start to creep into the 90s, this can be a huge game changer. Additionally, patio umbrellas are extremely versatile; they are available in a variety of colors, styles and tilting mechanisms, allowing more creativity for designing your shade experience. Most patio umbrellas tend to fall into three categories—each offering unique benefits:

Market
Umbrellas

A sofa with a small round coffee table a side cart and chair with a large square umbrella covering them.

If you’ve ever swooned over the patio umbrellas lining sidewalks or scenic cafes, it’s likely they were market umbrellas. Originating from Europe, these umbrellas are distinguished by their round or octagonal canopy shape and are commonly paired with a wooden or aluminum center pole. Versatile and affordable, market umbrellas are a great option for shade seekers.

Cantilever
Umbrellas

A large cantilever umbrella covering two chaise loungers that are in front of a pool.

Typically, larger than market alternatives, cantilever umbrellas normally feature an arched or jointed pole that is offset from the center. This provides the unique advantage of a full view of your guests that might otherwise be obstructed by a center pole.

Specialty
Umbrellas

An umbrella that has four canopies.

These umbrellas often have unique, eye-catching shapes that are different from the traditional round, octagonal, square or rectangular canopies. They also usually come with special features, such as fixed LED lighting on the umbrella’s ribs.

A large rectangular table with five woven chairs and a large umbrella.

Patio umbrellas are a timeless patio cover idea. Any umbrella you choose will provide sophisticated patio shade and greatly enhance the comfort of your outdoor space.

A sail for a deck.

Patio Cover Ideas: Patio Sails

Have you ever found yourself admiring a sailboat on the water? If so, you’d probably appreciate how shade sails can harness a similar design for beauty, ingenuity and of course, shade right in your backyard. Shade sails are a great patio cover idea for those with modern design preferences. They can be attached to a roof or outdoor structure to form a canopy that provides protection from the sun. Not only do they provide a barrier from UV rays, but they also provide outdoor spaces with a sophisticated, structural aesthetic. When shopping for shade sails, you’ll want to consider the shape you want as well as the size you’ll need to create a shaded area suitable for your needs. Be sure to only choose sails that have been constructed with high-density polyethylene fabrics.

A pergola on a deck with curtains attached to the posts of it and two chaise loungers inside it.

Patio Cover Ideas: Pergolas

For centuries, pergolas have been a go-to source for shade, and in 2021, they still make the cut for one of the best patio cover ideas. Hundreds of years ago, the Tuscans built pergolas and let grape vines grow over them to help block the sun year-round. Today, this strategy provides the same patio magic and visual appeal. And like our other favorites on this list, pergolas offer more than just an ingenious patio cover idea — they’re a great way to add form and function to your outdoor living space. There are also many fun ways to customize your pergola to fit your ideal coverage:

Add lattice
slats to the top

A patio with  two chairs and a table with six chairs and a small umbrella.

Cedar lattice slats are a great way to add additional patio shade to a pergola. The crisscrossed pattern is available in a variety of styles. Some offer more shade while others let in more sunlight, allowing you to choose an option that meets your shade preferences.

Consider a
retractable canopy

Outdoor kitchen with a dining room area.

Retractable canopies offer a day-to-day mechanism for customizing your shade for maximum comfort. In early summer, keep the canopy open for full sun exposure. Then, when it starts to get hot, extend the canopy for full shade and protection.

Outfit the sides
with outdoor curtains

A pergola with a curtains attached to each post and a woven sofa inside.

Side shade protection and privacy can really up your pergola game. With this simple addition, your space can start to feel like your favorite retreat. Outdoor curtains are a great solution for enhancing shade coverage while enhancing the aesthetic of your outdoor room.

Two chaise loungers in front of a pool under an umbrella.

Patio shade is a hot commodity. A comfortable place to hang outside will naturally increase the livability and use of an outdoor space. With these patio cover ideas, you’ll be lounging outside all summer long.


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