traditional dinign table under pergola
Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Between grilling, swimming, and movie nights under the stars, our backyards are much happier places in the summertime. But amid all the good times, there’s also a less-talked-about nuisance: hiding from the sun. Unless you want to rock an unflattering burn through September, you need to introduce some element of shade to your outdoor space. One option is to invest in umbrellas; the other, of course, is to put up a more permanent covering like a pergola. According to Wayfair’s latest data, the latter is the way to go.  

The e-commerce platform recently looked into what its customers have been searching for the most as the warm weather approaches and revealed that inquiries for “outdoor pergola sets” have quadrupled compared to this same time last year. As luck would have it, the website is hosting its big Way Day sale through today (April 28), and a number of the classic structures are up to 35 percent off, including a 10-by-11-foot one from Sunjoy that was $2,405 and is currently $1,729

While the solid wood framework can read as snoozy, here are three ideas from seasoned renovators for dressing up your semi-shady spot. 


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Embrace the Solar Power

light wood pergola with globe pendant
Photography by Megan Taylor

Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, founders of design firm 2LG Studio, have ensured that their space goes from day to night by nestling solar-powered lanterns in the trees and mounting a chic globe pendant lamp—also fueled by rays—over the dining table.  

Top It Off

modern pergola with curtains
Photography by Sophie Carpenter

For extra shade and a cabana-like look, design blogger Sophie Carpenter tacked on two sheets of bamboo reed garden fencing from Home Depot (around $25 total) to the roof of her outdoor structure. White curtains made out of weatherproof fabric add another layer of privacy.

Create an Alfresco Living Room

Wayfair’s 2-Day-Only Sale Stars This Renovator-Approved Backyard Upgrade
Photography by Taryn Kent

By situating the pergola up against a fence or the side of your house, you’ll gain a solid wall that can be used to your decorating advantage. Take a page out of Angela O’Brien’s book and hang an embellished, oversize mirror for a Bali-inspired spin.