Lying outside on a sun-lounge, slurping an icy cold drink, you’re in a happy place because summer has finally arrived.

Ah, the serenity!

Except you’re suddenly aware of an uncomfortable prickling sensation on your skin. You realise:

  1. you’re gradually frying in the blindingly hot sun
  2. your neighbours have a bird’s eye view of your pasty legs from their upstairs bathroom.

Yep. Put down that icy drink. It’s time to build a pergola.

Whether you’ve built a home with a gorgeous outdoor room which you want to extend, or you have beautiful new home on your block but not much else, a pergola is one of the most attractive ways to extend your outdoor living space. And the good news is it only takes someone with an average level of skill to build one.

Where to build your pergola

A pergola provides privacy and relief from the sun, so don’t build your pergola in a place that is already shaded; you’ll end up with your own private Siberia where no one wants to sit.

You should take into account the drainage and suitability of the site in relation to your home. A north-facing pergola will catch the sun all year round whilst a south-facing one will probably need a transparent roof to let the light in. The perfect pergola should lead to a patio, courtyard, pool or BBQ area because that’s where you want to spend time with your family and friends, right?

Your pergola options

Traditionally pergolas were an open structure with an open roof. However, the concept of a pergola has come a long way since 17th century Italy and has expanded to include semi-enclosures and roofing.

A simple timber pergola consists of posts supporting beams and rafters. If you’re pretty confident about your building skills, you may want to consider using use steel/aluminium or concrete columns.

You’ve got options galore when it comes to shading materials, including:

  • simple battens
  • shade cloth
  • vines or climbers to add greenery (and you can pretend you’re in Tuscany)
  • translucent polycarbonate which stops the rain ruining your BBQ but still allows UV filtered natural light through
  • a roof made of Colorbond or other metal roofing material
  • decorative screens used as roofing (check out the gorgeous example on the Bohemian below).

The size and design of your pergola really boils down to your budget, how frequently you want to use it (i.e. only in summer or year-round), and whether you decide to build it yourself (either from scratch or a pergola kit) or hire an expert.

Be aware that some structures require a building permit so you should check with your council first about local regulations.

If you get started now, by the time summer rolls around you’ll have that little problem area screened off (we mean your nosy neighbours, not your pasty legs). 

Images: Kalarney (above), Axis (below left), Bohemian (below right)

A pergola on the AxisA pergola on the Bohemian