Shed Kits

Are you tired of dealing with all the clutter in the garage or basement? Shed kits make it easy to solve these storage problems by allowing you to quickly and painlessly increase the amount of storage or work area that you have available. You may even find they can serve as a playhouse for the kids or a small greenhouse for plants.

With how much sheds have to offer, it’s not surprising that you find one in just about every yard in America. However, sheds are often built with shoddy materials and poor layouts, and can quickly become an eyesore or even dangerous to the family.

This is why shed kits have become so popular, since they can be professionally designed and have well manufactured components, while allowing the home owner to save money by building it themselves. By going with a shed kit, you are able to get professional quality fabrication of components, without having to pay professional style prices for the construction. It’s the best of both worlds.

DIY with Shed Kits

While DIY enthusiasts probably have all the tools and equipment necessary to build their own shed from scratch, most home owners don’t have their own shop or extensive tool set. That doesn’t mean they can’t build their own shed though, as storage shed kits are readily available at home improvement centers and hardware stores.

These kits come with prefabricated parts that can be quickly set in place and screwed or bolted together. The plans are clearly drawn out so it’s easy to figure out where each component fits in the design.

Kits for Storage Sheds

The most common type of shed is the storage shed. This is generally an all purpose type of shed with shelves for storage of excess items for the home, as well as areas for lawn and garden tools. Adding a storage shed to your yard is probably the easiest way to increase your storage space, and can really open things up in your closets, garage, and basement.

Wooden or Metal Shed Kits?

When it comes to storage shed kits, most of them are made from wood these days. That’s because of how easily wood can be worked with, as well as the natural look and feel it brings to your yard.

Metal shed kits have a lot to offer though. With increased weight to strength ratios, the sheds can be built so that there is more interior room for any given dimensions. Also, the weather and pest resistance of some metals, like aluminum, are better than wood.

The downside to metal sheds are the way they look. They often look tacky or out of place in a natural setting like the lawn or garden. Still, with the right finish, or when planned into the landscaping properly, a metal shed can be both useful and beautiful at the same time.

Alternative Shed Building Materials

Vinyl storage sheds are becoming more and more common. With the lightweight, strong, and weather resistant vinyl material, this allows for sheds that can even be portable. Though most vinyl sheds are still conventionally built and placed on their own foundation.

Other smaller sheds are sometimes made of various plastics. These sheds are really only sheds in name, and are actually more like large storage bins. In fact, the same manufacturers who make the storage bins we’re all familiar with make these types of sheds too, like Rubbermaid.

While it might seem a little cheesy to have a shed made of artificial materials such as these, lightweight and small storage sheds can still be very useful, especially since you can move them around at will.

Playhouse, Garden, and Potting Sheds

While most people are familiar with using their shed for storage, not as many understand the alternative utility that sheds can provide. Like any structure, sheds can bring comfort and shelter to outdoor environments. While most people wouldn’t want to live in a shed, they can make great playhouses for children when decorated correctly. Of course you wouldn’t want your children in there playing with power toys, so in that case you’d keep the tools and dangerous items in other storage locations.

A shed in the garden is a great place to store tools, but there are other things it can do for you as well. Seedlings need protection from the elements to thrive and get off to a healthy start. Having a window or skylight in the shed can allow you to grow seedlings in an area where they can’t be bothered by insect pests or damaged by hard wind or rain. This can give you the benefits of a small greenhouse, and still allow you an area to store your tools.

Potting sheds take this idea one step further, and devote the shed’s exterior to growing plants as well. Potted plants can hang from under the eaves, or are placed on special shelves that are built into the shed itself. There often is room in the interior for some tools and garden supplies still. The great thing about potting sheds is how beautiful they look, and how well that look melds into the rest of your lawn or garden.

Pergola Designs

Getting the right pergola design is critical. Every aspect of a pergola is going to need to be both a structural component as well as a visually appealing one. With all the parallel lines and uniform angles between the components, any mistakes are going to stand out like a sore thumb. To make things worse, you can’t just cover it up with siding or a roof like you can with other outdoor buildings like sheds or a garage. Everything about your pergola needs to be well thought out and designed before you start.

This might seem somewhat strange given how simple pergola designs usually are. Like a deck without the decking, it’s mostly just beams and trusses. This can make it difficult to square up and stabilize though. You don’t have the benefit of the planar stabilization that plywood, planking, or siding can provide. Because of this your joints have to be strong, and because they will be visible those joints have to be precise. Any gap or mistake in the angle of the cut is going to be noticeable and worse yet, could make your pergola unstable.

When you have the right designs for your pergola, and the right tools for making the cuts, things become a whole lot more simple. Pergolas utilize many structural components that are all identical to each other, and so it works out well once you have the angles down and the power tools aligned. This can be simple in some cases, most square or rectangle pergolas will have mostly right angles. With other less common designs you could get into a lot of trouble if your plans don’t set down the proper angles to cut at.

Elements of Pergola Design

Pergolas consist of a few main elements.

These basic structural components are what the majority of pergola designs out there will use. With so few different types of structural elements, it may be surprising that there can be such tremendous variation in how pergolas look and function. The truth is that pergolas can be designed as a shade structure, eye catching feature, use as a trellis, or some combination of all of these things. Taking the time to identify the features that you want in your pergola can really pay dividends later when you’re sorting through all the pergola designs out there.

Types of Patio Awnings

The typical patio awning has gotten a big makeover in the last few decades. These types of awnings used to just have a metal design and wrought iron columns. While this lasted a long time and provided great shade, it tended to have an oppressive feeling. Plus, if you’ve ever heard the rain hit one of these metal awnings then you know how noisy it can be. This is probably why the trend went more towards pergolas and wooden structures for a while. However, now awnings are back whether in decorative form or to provide shade for your decks and patios.

A wood awning helps to substitute for a pergola’s natural and more airy feel, and can be a good way to get into woodworking projects. Such a wooden awning might mimic a dormer if it has a pitched roof. However, it can be a more simplistic box style awning too. This allows you to bring in beautiful wood tones without having to go through the expense and work of building a deck or installing new garage doors. This is also one of the few ways to do a contemporary style of awning. To choose the awning that’s right for you, a good idea is to look at any existing wooden structures in your yard. Then define the style of exterior you have and choose a complimentary material even if it’s unusual.

The most unconventional material that I’ve come across was actually a glass and metal awning. This can be purely decorative. It might have a stainless steel cable system. It’s the most modern way to do an awning but is it actually functional? While typically you’d just find this in shopping centers there are different ways to use this in your backyard.

It can even be an entire patio roof but this probably won’t give you tons of shade although it does protect you from rain. Besides durability my biggest concern even with PVC is cleaning. You’ll have to worry about it scratching and also getting really dirty. Think about what a hassle it is to clean your windows and imagine having an entire roof made out of it. However, if you still want to get some sun but be protected from the rest of the elements then consider this.

This style can also just be used over windows or an entry. You can find stained glass awnings or have one custom made although you probably won’t have matching pairs. It allows you to use many beautiful jewel tones that are otherwise difficult to use just on your siding colors.

You can also fake the look of a glass awning with inexpensive vintage windows. Create borders around your pergola or porch and use a more practical roof covering. Usually these windows are no longer practical for use inside your home just because they aren’t energy efficient or even double paned. This gives you a faux awning look using salvaged materials.

It’s also a good idea to just coordinate your patio awnings with window awnings. The patio one might be the only essential piece. However, sometimes it tends to stick out like a sore thumb; especially if you have a more traditional style of home. This is also true of retractable awnings but you may just want them because it’s so functional and provides you with lots of different shade options.

The way that you can make a patio awning more classic is to change the context. Look for market style awnings with scalloped borders for the most traditional look. Also usually you’d find these pieces historically in darker tones like burgundy or the classic hunter green. Complete your patio with a traditional bistro set and adds in elegant dome awnings over your windows with iron planter boxes underneath. While you may initially be drawn to a patio awning for its functionality you can still coordinate it with the rest of your yard.

Typically when you think of an awning you envision a piece attached to your house. However, you can also consider unconventional fabric choices for your backyard. The first option is a sail cloth that looks like it’s suspended in air. While it isn’t a traditional awning it adds a sculptural effect and provides you with lots of shade.

You can even find a portable awning that mimics more of a canopy tent. If you don’t have a covered patio then this will make your backyard much more useable with all of the shade. It can also be a fun theme for parties. If you want this kind of atmosphere then striped awnings will be slightly more whimsical while still being a classic pattern. It’s also easy to coordinate with the rest of your patio furniture. You can probably find the same fabric to use on your window awnings. These types of structures are much cheaper than putting up a pergola and it’s a fun place to have a picnic.

Furniture Trends for Outdoor Patios

Outdoor patios don’t just include a typical lounge chair or cheap barbecue anymore. Instead, you’ll find outdoor kitchens that cost thousands of dollars and pricy outdoor living room setups. It’s much like what you would find indoors. Many of the design trends from interior spaces are also being used to create more of the feeling of an outdoor room instead of just a typical patio.

One functional item that’s been added is actually the use of double furniture. It seems like at parties and barbeques everyone is scrambling for seating. This is why these chairs are oversized so several people can fit in them. Add in ottoman so more people can put their feet up and you can even find entire outdoor sectionals.

Another new furniture idea is the use of console tables. Typically, you would just find this in a living room behind the couch. However, when using it outdoors it allows you to have a makeshift counter or just an extra place to put drinks. It acts as a serving area and a small buffet. If you don’t have a lot of space for side tables then adding it behind your seating area is a pretty smart move.

The other trend is the use of end tables outdoors. It used to be that you would just have one dining table outside. However, with the use of so many outdoor sofas and seating areas that are separate from the dining area these end tables make sense. I also like these durable materials because you can even use them as ottomans or stools. A drum table has an interesting shape to it. You always want to make sure that it’s wide enough to move around easily. However it also needs to be durable enough that the wind doesn’t blow over it and break it. This is a sleeker option if you like beautiful ceramic stools. Look for bright colors that will still be sophisticated just because of the unusual material and high costs.

Another big furniture trend is outdoor beds. This is a pretty pricey furniture option. However, look for a canopy because this gives you tons of patio shade ideas with a canopy effect. However, you don’t want it to look like a bed. It should look like a large sofa that you can just stretch out on. The canopies should be fitted and simplistic. You don’t want a lot of ruffles. Look for simplistic posts that aren’t going to mimic indoor furniture too much.

The other thing that helps these pieces to be more sophisticated for outdoor use is just the absence of a lot of fabric. This keeps it cheaper and it also keeps it easier to clean too. You just want a fitted cover on top of it instead of using a lot of outdoor bedding. Remember that this is just another seating area or lounging space. Usually it might have a wicker bottom to it. This keeps it more simplistic. It also means you shouldn’t have a bed skirt too.

I’d say that the biggest theme for outdoor décor at the moment is actually the Moroccan style. It works beautifully with any stucco exterior. You can even paint one of your exterior walls in a brighter orange or a dramatic cobalt blue. This also works well for covered patios. This style is all about opulence. This means using accessories instead of just practical planters. You can bring in everything from old bird cages, as long as there decorative too, such as beautiful lanterns and candle holders. The Moroccan style tends to have several hanging lanterns and they might even be metal. If you have enough exterior lighting already then avoid the fire hazard and just keep these as decorative elements. It also looks great in the sun.

The Moroccan style also uses a lot of colors that typically you wouldn’t find outdoors and it uses very bold palettes. The furniture itself is going to be dark in a rich wood tone which may require more upkeep. However, you can also just paint your existing furniture in a chocolate brown so it’s more durable than wood. You can bring in ceramic ottomans. Make everything mismatched even if you’re buying at the same store. Just use the same jewel tone family and look for tile planters or brightly colored rugs to tie the whole patio together.

Tray tables are especially convenient outdoors just because they do hold drinks so well. Typically this would just be wood and rectangular. However, even coffee tables with high lips on them can help to prevent spills. If you want larger pieces for your interior design and also you need to spend less money on them, then finding a few of these outdoor trends and bringing them indoors can really be helpful for your budget.

Easy Shade with Canvas Awnings

Going with canvas awnings provides you with shade and there are even retractable versions offered. It saves you a lot of expense in having to build in architecture for shade. It also helps you to add a covered entryway to your home inexpensively. In many instances its light weight enough that you won’t need to worry about a lot of supporting posts too and it’s a pretty cheap and lasting shade option as well.

The biggest trend we’ve seen in canvas awnings is just in the color palette. While these would typically be found in classic red and burgundies that’s all changing. The key is to be more neutral and more sophisticated so it doesn’t end up looking like a restaurant. It also helps to protect your investment just because it won’t become outdated as quickly.

Awnings aren’t just for windows and doors anymore. Tailored versions can fit on top of a pergola depending on the post structure that you have. It will be sleeker than a canopy and might have a retractable function. However, if you want to get a faux look that’s a lot cheaper then try to mimic the market edge or scallop treatment that’s so typical with awnings. This can be a fabric valance that you sew and apply around your pergola or covered porch to save money. It only works though if you already have all of the shade that you want.

My favorite use for canvas awnings is actually over a front door. You’ll want wider and grander awnings in this instance. It’s a chance to add in color and highlight your door. Also it’s cheaper than a covered porch but still welcomes your guests in. You can even add your house numbers onto this if the valance is wide enough. For a more sophisticated version match it to your door color or the color of your home. Canvas awnings provide you with shade on a budget; and it still looks like you spent a lot!

I find that black canvas awnings are the most chic and sophisticated. You can find a box canvas awning for a modern home. Stay away from scalloped borders or intricate bracket systems to keep it modern looking.

The other shade that’s traditional is called a quarter round awning. I’ve seen these both on brick and siding exteriors that otherwise looked totally uneventful. You can look for wrought iron lights to match this too. It’s ok if the dark color pops on a modern exterior. The idea of “pops of color” or bold accent colors first became popular with the modern style. However, for a more traditional awning you’re going to need to use the dark color in more than one area so it doesn’t seem too stark.

Another awning shape is the concave shape. You’ll usually find this the most often in metal but there are canvas options available. It almost looks like a tailored slope of fabric. There will be some support structure at the bottom. This might be wrought iron brackets or metal spears. It will usually have the least amount of frame work which makes it the easiest version to copy for a DIY project.

I also like canvas awnings because they can mimic much more expensive materials. One of my favorite looks is actually a burgundy or rust tone in a stripe. It needs to be a pretty structured awning if you really want to pull this off successfully. From far away though it looks just like a more expensive metal awning at a fraction of the price.

This can also help you to get a new look on your exterior. Sure, when you go to paint you have hundreds of tones available to you. However, you might be stuck with a bright green or red roof that just isn’t going to match your new neutral color scheme. Roof options seem to have become more neutral and more expensive in the last few decades. However, just adding in striped awnings with both the roof and new siding color instantly creates an entire scheme.

There are also certain decorating styles that are more expensive than others. The Tuscan look is all about opulence including heavy stones as well as rich fabrics. You’ll find rich wood tones too. While this is manageable in interior design the cost of doing a Tuscan style exterior is astronomical. Plus, there just aren’t that many places to use fabric; especially outside in a front yard. Just painting your exterior in a warm gold and adding in burgundy awnings gives you this classic Tuscan look without using all of the expensive material. You may need to stain your concrete to look more like natural stone though in this instance.

Patio Shade Cloth – Inexpensive and Efficient Materials

When the hot summer sun is beating down, shade is one of the most valuable commodities for outdoor living.  The comfort that a patio shade cloth can bring to you and your family can make an amazing difference in how much time you spend out enjoying your backyard instead of being stuck inside hugging the air conditioner.

Better yet, you can achieve this rather inexpensively.  The types of products used for patio shading can be very lightweight indeed, which means they don’t use a lot of materials.  Patio shade sails for instance are often not much more than a triangle of woven material, somewhat like a tarp, that is connected to supports using fasteners and cables.  This type of setup can shade a rather large area for only a few dollars investment.

Outdoor Shade Cloth Fabric

The types of fabrics used in patio shading applications can vary quite a bit.  Most are lightweight fabrics which are not completely opaque.  This allows the light in, but diffused enough that it isn’t harsh on your skin or eyes.  Also a benefit of these lightweight fabrics is that they allow hot air to rise, rather than having it trapped or radiated downwards like with aluminum or wood patio covers.

Sometimes heavier knitted materials can be used, which gives a less uniform shade.  Small patterns of light and dark emerge, and this can give a more natural feel to the shade.  If you’ve ever been under a shade tree, you know how the leaves often have gaps where spots of sunlight can make their way through the tree canopy.  These make for interesting patterns of shadow, and can be mimicked somewhat by the way the shade cloth is woven.

In a pinch, you can just string up a tarp for shading.  This is something that you often see at swap meets and flea markets.  The booths there need shading, but they also need to be imminently portable.  Tying a tarp to a few posts can give the cooling comfort necessary, for only a few dollars and about 5 minutes of setup time.

More Substantial Patio Shade Structures

A Square Cloth Shade Sail

Patio Shade Sail by Coolaroo

Sometimes you need a more permanent patio cover.  Whether it’s for providing shade, or simply to use as a raised trellis for your ornamental plants, pergolas make a great addition to your patio.  Pergolas are also very flexible shade structures that give you a lot of room for customization of the look and feel of your yard.  Between modifying the spacing and slant of the slats that make up the top deck, you can adjust the amount and timing of shade to suit your purposes.

Awnings are another type of structure you can use on your deck or patio.  They are more similar to shade cloths in that they tend to be made of lightweight fabrics stretched over a frame.  These are often attached to the side of the house, and can be retractable as well.  Stand-alone awnings are available too though, and often are portable and fold up for when they aren’t in use.

Another type of sun shade that you can add to your patio is a gazebo canopy.  With a lightweight fabric top, often made of canvas, gazebo canopies bring a very stylish look to your landscaping and home.  Those with heavy duty materials such as aluminum roofs can also be used as outdoor kitchens.  Installing your grill or even a firepit under an aluminum gazebo can make for a lot of great times enjoying the outdoors.

Functional Shade Sails for Your Garden

People aren’t the only living things that benefit from shade.  Many plants can have a difficult time with full sunlight, and especially in newer gardens it can be difficult to find adequate shading for their needs.  Shade cloths are thus one of the gardener’s secret tools.  Everyone knows about hoes, rakes, and spades, but not everyone realizes just how important shade can be.

This is especially true for nurseries where you grow seedlings.  A greenhouse shade cloth is a standard accessory for those growing plants indoors.  With the ability to retract the shade cloth, or even double it up to block more sunlight than just on it’s own, the gardener can to set the amount of sunlight the new plants receive very precisely.

This means that you will have healthier transplants when it comes time to move them out to the garden.  This will help out with production of vegetables, as well as help mitigate the damaging effects of insect pests.  Strong seedlings can get established faster, and thus be in better shape to handle the damage those insects dish out.

Shade Cloth Manufacturers

With how simple patio shade cloths are, it may seem silly to worry about the manufacturer.  There are some good reasons to do so though.  For one, the shade cloth is going to be taking the full brunt of the sun’s energy.  That is, after all, the point is it not?  Well, the ultraviolet rays in sunlight aren’t just damaging to your skin, but can also damage fabrics as well.

That means that having properly treated cloth for your patio shade is very important.  Having UV protection can make the difference between the shade sail lasting years and years, or only making it through one summer.  Over time this can make for a big difference in cost, and so you shouldn’t skimp to just get the cheapest material you can find.

Coolaroo shade cloth is well regarded, and not much more expensive than the no-name brands.  Aluminet is another great choice for shade cloths.  Going with a name-brand known for quality will ensure that you have the right amount of shade when you need it, and won’t have to spend a lot on repairs or replacements over the years.  Certainly a worthwhile investment!

Design Ideas for Outdoor Rooms

The concept of outdoor rooms has changed the entire way that people use this space. A patio used to just contain the typical barbecue set and maybe a dining room table. Oftentimes you’d just use it a few times a year. Focusing on new purposes and higher end materials has really enabled people to take back the space.

I love the idea of an outdoor room so much just because there’s been a big emphasis on downsizing homes in this economy. This means that you’re going to need to be able to make use of every square foot. Getting more into outdoor living definitely opens up your entire floor plan. Some people are even building outdoor kitchens. It’s not just for entertaining and instead can add a lot of relaxation to your life instead of just eating in front of the TV every night.

First, consider how you actually live. It’s quite typical to turn these patios into dining spaces. If you entertain a lot or love to barbecue then this can be a very practical use. However, if you’re really limited on square footage indoors, you probably don’t need a second kitchen outdoors. You can create an entire planting area if you love to garden. Add in potting benches or a refurbished hutch for extra storage. It almost acts the way that a bookshelf does indoors. It allows you to put away a lot of your garden tools, even if you don’t have extra space in your garage. It really does help with your outdoor organization but mimics expensive interior furniture too.

Buganvilia trellised on a White Pergola

Trellising a Pergola Provides Beautiful Shade

Patio Covers and Pergolas

The other key to creating an outdoor room is the use of architectural elements. This includes the posts or columns that are holding up the pergola. Pay attention to shade it casts to create a usable space. You can add in screens or trellises to provide more shade or privacy from your neighbors. These salvaged architectural details are even popular indoors in interior design. This tends to be very cottage and shabby chic inside. However, since these elements are salvaged from the exterior of homes when using them outside it’s just a staple in traditional design. This means that it blends in with almost any home exterior although of course you may need to paint it.

Built-in benches help you to maximize your seating on a small patio. There are portable versions that even have storage underneath but sometimes they are just made out of PVC. This also allows you to create more of a window seat effect. One thing that we often find in outdoor rooms is that there isn’t going to be typical outdoor lounge furniture. Instead, it’s going to mimic interior design a lot more. The bench concept does help you with this. You will need to use sturdier fabrics and you have fewer options for your colors and patterns too.

Outdoor Furniture Trends

Beautifully Covered and Furnished Patio

Covered Patios make Outdoor Rooms Comfortable

We are finding a lot of the same elements of interior design making their way outdoors. This could be a new amenity like a fireplace. This doesn’t have to be a built-in piece. Fire pits have become popular in the last few years and you’d be surprised at how cheap they are, although you do need to follow proper safety precautions.

As with any interior room your space planning is still quite important. This means choosing plans and planters that will help you to maximize the flow of the space like you would use interior screens indoors. You can use the same concept with planters. If you wanted to divide two spaces then go with lower planters. If you want to add privacy then place shrubs and bushes carefully and in a few years this greenery will almost acts like an outdoor wall.

There’s been a big surge in outdoor rugs too. Not all outdoor rugs are made for every outdoor space or climate. Usually, indoor/outdoor rugs are only appropriate for covered patios. These have to be kept away from all moisture. Instead, you can try painting one directly on your porch depending on the surface.

Colors for Outdoor Decor

You should choose both color palettes and patterns that fit within a very distressed style. These include French country, shabby chic, country, and cottage looks. Going with anything modern requires a pristine finish. While you can accomplish this easily with porch paint it isn’t going to last that long. Instead, choose a faded and muted color scheme with lots of blues and grays. This way when it gets a little bit worn from the weather as it probably will; it just looks that much better.

Most interior design concepts apply to outdoor rooms. There is a little bit more leniency with your floor plan and space plan then in interior design. It seems like every room has a purpose inside. However, since you only have one patio, you need to find the option that fits best for your family and design from there.

Shade from a Covered Porch

Patio shades can come in all kinds of price ranges. However, the less expensive options usually have some drawbacks to them. For example, look at the relatively inexpensive fabric sunshade or shade sail options. Even though outdoor fabric is made to withstand rain and wind, usually it becomes worn over time.

I find the most long lasting shade providing options are those adding new architectural elements to your home. This also helps ensure that it matches the style of your house. You can also use modern materials like PVC or vinyl so that it will be easier to take care of.

A covered porch almost always has a country aspect to it. This is definitely the elegant side of the country look though. Painted wood beams or PVC approximations are in keeping with this design. Also look for white or porch steps and traditional railings and banisters. This helps to finish off your porch even if it isn’t up high. This definitely makes it a lot more sophisticated than a deck.

Covering a Porch with Fabric

If you don’t have a covered porch you can still use some country styled ideas that will use fabric. Look for outdoor fabrics in bright colors. These are readily available in blue, red, and yellow. In most other decorating styles there just isn’t a good way to implement these outdoor fabrics just because they are so colorful. Look for shades or floor to ceiling window treatments to create an enclosed patio effect. Plus, even when these are pulled up it still makes a design statement because of the bright color.

You can also add fabric just for decoration. Even if a pergola or covered porches already provide you with shade you could attach valances too. Get one in colorful stripes. This creates an awning effect but it’s a lot cheaper.

Most patio shade ideas really aren’t that decorative so I like to start out with this as the base of design. Then you can elaborate with other focal points so that the actual shade covering is just a minor detail that also happens to be both beautiful and functional.

For the country look you could take the same bright colors that you see on your outdoor fabrics and shade coverings and use them on other areas. You can paint your window frames in bright reds or yellows. Usually this is much too bright to actually use on the siding itself. However, on a window frame it draws attention to the architecture and still matches neutral colors of siding.

Sometimes though, you can just let the view add the color.

Ocean View from a Covered Balcony

Whites and Muted tones can Accentuate the View

Matching with the Patio Itself

For the patio itself look for a stone or brick. If you do have a concrete patio then you’ll need to refinish it to keep within the rustic feeling of your shade coverings. You can also get a cobblestone effect with stamped concrete, but usually this is pretty outdated because people can tell that it is fake. However, since the country style does have a sense of humor you can still make it work.

The key to any successful covered porch or patio is to make it feel like an outdoor room. You can create an entryway into the space just by placing large planters on either side of the stairs. Make sure that they are heavy enough that they won’t blow over in the wind. For a country style patio start off with your shade ideas and work your design out from that point.

Another country look goes into more of a cottage or shabby chic direction. You’re going to need to paint all of your posts, railings, and fences in a bright white. You can also use PVC vinyl materials if you don’t want to have to worry about painting.

Swing on Covered Porch

You can Hang a Swing from a Sturdy Porch Cover

A Shabby Chic Themed Shaded Patio

A shabby chic look will usually be the trickiest type of theme just because it needs to be delicate while still durable for outdoor use. If you’re working on a covered porch then you can even paint the flooring to look like tile. You can also paint on an area rug too if you want to define the space better. This is also a look that can benefit a lot from stencils such as botanical prints. Usually you just find it indoors on artwork but you can also make it a durable enough for outdoor use.

For the actual shade covering on a shabby chic patio you want to finish it off very precisely. This could mean that you paint any exposed beams in a bright white finish. You also might want to add in hanging lighting like chandeliers or candelabras, although you always need to make sure that you don’t leave these pieces unattended. Even if you aren’t going to use them for lighting it gives a much more grand effect to your covered patio than simply relying on string lights. You can also finish off the porch cover by installing bead board over any exposed beams.

Lattice Trellises for Patios

If you want to use lattice screen for your outdoor architecture then go with vinyl versions. You can stick with white versions that will look classic. While that makes it easier to take care of than traditional painted wood versions, it isn’t as easy to paint a PVC material. On the other hand, PVC also has more of a finished appearance without a lot of rough edges. That is on reason why it is better for screens and it’s also lighter weight than wood panels. Some brands like Acurio even come with a 12 year warranty and you probably can’t find the same thing when buying traditional woodwork.

The only negative to using PVC in this manner is that you need to choose the right color to begin with. That usually isn’t a problem with a wood trellis as the wood tones are going to naturally look good in such an application. But it only takes a coat of paint to change those options. Plus, usually it will be covered by plants so it won’t really matter.

If you want a trellis or latticework that gives you privacy or creates more of an enclosed patio effect then color will be more of an important consideration. I’d rather see trellis designs and latticework that is the same color as your pergola. Also pay attention to your existing structure and let that dictate the rest of your design.

Sometimes though you can just let the plants do most of the work. Then you can use just about any material and it will end up looking great!

Flowering Trees build their own Trellis

Sometimes it's best to just let Nature do it's thing

Various Trellis Designs

A basic pergola design uses a slat style in a stained or painted wood. This has a retro feel to it but the latticework can take it into almost any other direction. Install black square vinyl panels for a Zen garden. If you have cement and a lot of rocks then just adding in short lattice trellises can give it a Japanese shoji screen feeling.

You can also install these on your exterior siding in the place of outdoor artwork. These pieces have such intricate fretwork that I love to see them without any plants on them. Luckily, the vinyl material still keeps the price down. In modern gardens you won’t see as many plants but you will see bigger architectural details.

The biggest advantage to choosing plastic panels is that it’s so easy to take care of. You can also get different finishes that aren’t as easy to find with paint. I’ve found gray versions that almost have a sheen to them. It mimics stainless steel at a much cheaper price tag and it won’t weather over time. Usually silver paint is the most difficult color to pull off successfully because it’s never shiny enough. These screens with be a much closer approximation.

Also, you should note that the sheen is going to be different on these items which is how you’ll instantly be able to spot it as not being a wood tone. It will be shinier than most painted versions. So embrace this and instead find faux metal versions because you won’t be able to fool the eye into thinking that it’s a wood trellis to begin with.

A vinyl panel also has the advantage of not warping. This could be a big headache if you’re using a wood panel in your actual construction and it warps over time. Instead, this is sturdy enough to also use in your actual patio area.

This is even a much cheaper way to replicate wrought iron. Black panels with scroll work mimic this pretty effectively and you won’t have to worry about it rusting. Just one panel will usually be 32 inches by 48 inches and might cost under $30. If you were trying to get durable outdoor artwork in the same size it would probably cost several hundred dollars.

Adding Fabric into the Mix

The last innovative use for this is actually as a backdrop. You could place this in the back of an arbor or archway. It’s cheaper than fabric and creates an unusual texture for any wedding day photos. Plus, these panels are usually available in white too and you can always find somewhere to use it in your yard after your event is over with.

Changing the color or style of your siding is expensive. I’ve personally painted siding all summer long and it was one of the worst summers I’ve ever had. Instead, use these vinyl decor panels to add a theme to your patio. It’s a way to change the color of your exterior without all of the work. Sure, the color will still show through all of the scrollwork but I usually find that this mimics fabric or lace.

A trellis isn’t just for plants anymore. It’s a way to integrate new architecture or artwork into your outdoor area. With the new vinyl materials that are available it’s so much easier to maintain so you can use it all over your yard.

Vines Climbing up the corner of a Screenhouse

Integrating a Pergola and Screenhouse with Climbing Vines

Reasons to Use Gazebo Curtains

Gazebo curtains have all different kinds of uses dependent on the climate where you live. You can get more of a sunshade type if you have a simplistic metal gazebo. This type of gazebo is the most likely to have curtains because they are so easy to hang and install as opposed to wood gazebo types.

The most modern style uses a sun shade style. This is a roller shade that’s purely functional. It might just be on one or two sides thus saving you money and still allows the sunlight to shine into the structure.

Gazebo Curtains Are Budget Friendly

When you think of a gazebo you probably envision a wood gazebo type but you might not be into wood working plans. You also might not have room in your yard for a permanent structure. Some metal gazebo types just cost a few hundred dollars. This might even be cheaper than a rental so you can even consider it for a backyard wedding and it’s grander than an arbor.

For event use I like to see white sheer gazebo curtains as well as canopies. This can cover up all of the posts and saves you money on expensive floral arrangements that you’d need if you weren’t going with a fabric covered structure.

Netting Allows Air Movement and Light

Netted Curtains double as Mosquito Nets

Gazebo Curtains are Easy to Clean

While these fabrics look a lot like what you find in interior design it’s drastically different. You can find treated polyester versions. However, some drapes also use terylene. Not only do you need to find fabric that won’t mold; also think about the sun to protect it from fading. Look for UV protected fabrics. You’ll also have to find materials that are easy to clean with just soap or water.

Create an Outdoor Room

If you can’t afford the expense of an enclosed patio then consider a gazebo with gazebo curtains. If you buy a metal structure ensure that you also spend more money to get matching netting. You might even want to buy a replacement set because the items are so inexpensive. This saves you from DIY projects because many of the nets are customized to the size of the gazebo. Get the sizes that fit your structure while you can find them. Spend more for quality zippers that will make it easier to use.

Gazebo Curtain Style Options

Gazebo curtains are where you really get into decorating a little more. A lot of the actual architecture depends on what you can afford and what matches the style of your house. The gazebo curtains are where you get to add color and personality to these oil rubbed bronze and wrought iron finishes which are standard on these gazebo types.

With some metal structures you’ll just see mostly curtains which allows you to use cheaper gazebo structures. Usually this just comes in solid colors. Your option is to just find interesting ways to use these solid fabrics. This will usually still match your gazebo rod still because the panel has metal grommets.

You can also alternate the colors of curtain panels in the absence of being able to use patterns. Just make sure that two curtain panels of the same tone meet in the middle. You can also pick up replacement canopies for the top of your gazebo if you want a seamless canopy look.

Silky Curtains create Open Enclosures

Using Light Fabrics Outdoors

Elegant Curtains for Gazebos

For the most elegant look then stick with gazebo netting or plain sheer gazebo curtains. Let the structure of your gazebo determine which style of drapery that you use. This will really be enhanced if you have sheer versions where some of the posts and poles will show through. With heavier and more voluminous curtains you have more leeway as to the post and curtains styles differing.

Straight post styles without scroll work or archways will be the best for a contemporary style. This works well with brighter gazebo curtains whether it’s a bright orange or a terra cotta color. There usually aren’t a lot of choices in color canopies. It’s often available in white, sage, tan, and occasionally terra cotta. Look for stripe pieces that coordinate all of these colors together so it doesn’t look too mismatched.

For wrought iron elements with scrollwork then you’ll want gazebo curtains that compliment the rustic look. Look for longer versions and keep them sheer to show off the wrought iron’s rough finish. Instead of a grommet style system look for a more feminine tie system. Not only will this match the look, it will be the easiest style to install too.

Usually when you think of the phrase mosquito net you probably don’t think of the word elegant but it certainly can be. It can be a stylish and functional look. Find larger borders that mimic ribbon details. Usually pieces with tie backs will be more traditional too. I find that bronze and taupe versions of mosquito screens almost mimic gold and they don’t look like insect screens at all. No matter your gazebo style there are all kinds of gazebo curtains available for you.