Create an Outdoor Suite by Adding a Gazebo
When you hear the word gazebo, you probably picture a nostalgic scene of an intimate summer evening. A contemporary gazebo, however, is also perfect for the home owner who wants to enjoy an outdoor living area that's shaded from the sun and covered in the event of rain.
First used by British architects in the mid-1700s, the term gazebo refers to a pavilion-type structure that's commonly constructed in warm, sunny climates. Gazebos were popular in such classical civilizations as those in Persia and China.
Built in the late 16th century, the earliest European gazebo-like structure exists on the property of the late Elizabethan Montacute House in Somerset, England. A square brick-and-stone gazebo lies among the brick-walled gardens at Elton on the Hill in Nottinghamshire, also in England.
A small octagonal garden structure was located on George Washington's Mount Vernon residence. Thomas Jefferson wrote about such structures, which in early America were known as pavilions or summerhouses.
A type of gazebo, a pergola can refer to either a shaded passageway or walkway or sitting area covered by a lattice with intertwined vines. The word pergola means "projecting eave" and is of Latin origin. Contemporary pergolas are constructed of weather-resistant wood or low-maintenance aluminum, fiberglass or vinyl.
Whether you call it a gazebo, pavilion or pergola, consider applying some of the following tips when you create your own custom-planned outdoor haven:
- If you're not an expert builder, you can still put together an attractive gazebo by purchasing a prefabricated one and simply assembling and setting it up. If, however, you're confident you can put one together yourself, all you need is a blueprint and construction materials. Be sure to work through the design and building processes step by step to iron out some challenges you might overlook in the process.
- If you want to build a gazebo in the traditional Southern style, consider an octagon shape with ornate designs, such as double cupolas or carved columns. Also in the traditional style, a tiered roof that lets in a bit of sunlight is an attractive, yet casual, addition. Decorative roof shingles, such as scalloped, also contribute to the nostalgic feel. Maybe there's a tree in your backyard that's in the exact place you want to build your gazebo but just don't want to cut it down. Build the gazebo with a traditional-style brick-and-mortar base and rustic shingles around the tree, and it'll blend in perfectly.
- Non-traditional gazebo styles include contemporary sharp angles and clean lines and rustic constructed of tree branches, old barn wood or redwood.
- A pointed gazebo is a cross between traditional and modern styles. A square-shaped smaller version is relatively easy to build. You can create another great blend of traditional and contemporary with bamboo that's both strong and lightweight. Furniture made of teakwood is an ideal complement to a bamboo gazebo.
- A screened-in gazebo provides additional protection from the elements. Sliding glass doors allow for enjoyment in all types of weather. A gazebo attached to a deck lets the home owner install a ceiling fan both to cool the living area and chase away unwanted insects. A gazebo can attractively complement a nearby home when both are constructed of the same materials and are of similar color. Connecting the gazebo to the house is an ideal way to blend in the architecture. Another great way to connect a deck and gazebo is via a swinging door.
- Complement an elevated deck with a raised gazebo.
- A poolside gazebo lets onlookers enjoy watching activities in the pool. To protect the structure's wood from splashed water, build it a bit higher than the concrete surrounding the pool.
- What better way to add a hot tub to your deck than under a covered gazebo, where the weather can't threaten a dip in the tub?
- If the main purpose of your gazebo is decorative, consider using it for a floral display. You can still place a bench or two inside to relax and enjoy the beauty. If you don't plan to use it for sitting or relaxing, a tall, narrow gazebo is a great welcoming addition to your property.
- For a unique island look, create a tiki-hut gazebo with textured layers that give the appearance of a thatched roof.
- If Asian is your preferred style, you can create a gazebo in the design of a Far Eastern temple.
- Incorporate church architecture, such as steeples and spires, into your gazebo for a peaceful meditation area among nature.
- Bring the Medieval castle look to your backyard with a gazebo built to mimic a stone fortress.
- Maybe you don't want your gazebo to be the focal point of your backyard. Make it part of nature with a leafy canopy that blends in with surrounding trees. Can't get enough nature? Bring plants and stones inside to let you enjoy the outdoors even when the weather outside is frightful.
- Built on a bridge over a pond or stream, a raised gazebo lets you relax as you watch the peaceful water below.
- Let your gazebo reflect the season. String festive Christmas lights or orange-colored lights for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Red-white-and-blue lights are great for July 4.