A well-designed and artfully installed patio awning is the crowning touch to the perfect backyard. While patios extend a home’s living area, create outdoor entertainment zones and provide extra playing space for the kids, the patio awning sets the mood and makes everyone feel more comfortable. Patio awning ideas range from solid wood (or wood alternatives) to lattice-style covers, perfect for lacing your favorite fabric through. With a little customizing of the few basic trends, the possibilities are endless.
Patio awning covers have been in style for centuries, providing not only protection from the sun but “defining the visual character of our streetscapes,” according to Chad Randl, an architectural historian with the National Parks Service. Although his preservation brief, "The Use of Awnings on Historic Buildings" primarily references downtowns and commercial buildings, the points Randl makes about the importance of patio awnings are just as relevant to the home and backyard as they are Main Street.
Solid wood covers provide shade from the sun, keep the house cool in the summer and offer the chance to extend the outdoor season through the rainy months. Lower-priced alternatives include simple metal patio awnings, which are cost efficient and easy to install. Recent trends have seen steel, aluminum or vinyl patio awnings designed to resemble wood, with long-lasting results creating cost savings over time.
Another popular trend is use of lattice-style patio awnings. Generally made of wood or other natural products, the lattice-style awning filters sunlight and creates a defined patio space, while allowing some of the sun’s warmth and charm to shine through. For homeowners who want the openness of the lattice and protection from the sun, fabric panels in a variety of materials can be laced through the lattice, creating a colorful, bazaar-like atmosphere.
Retractable Patio Awnings
Taking their cue from the RV industry, patio designers are now creating practical, colorful covered spaces with the use of retractable patio awnings. Mounted to the side of the house, these retractable awnings come in colorful print fabrics, traditional stripes or welcoming solid colors. Depending on the season, they can be fully extended to create large outdoor entertainment spaces or brought in close, protected and secured from driving rains or blustery winds.
Alternatives to Fixed Awnings
If you are looking for a less-permanent patio awning, consider a freestanding market umbrella, pergola or gazebo. Like patio awnings, these temporary structures define outdoor space, offer shade protection and extend the living area. They can be placed against the house, like an awning, centered in the yard as a focal point, or erected by the side of a swimming pool, hot tub or outdoor kitchen.
Whether looking to redesign your entire back yard or simply to create an extended outdoor entertainment area, patio awnings offer flexibility and creative solutions to your backyard design dilemmas.
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