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If you prefer not to soak up too many rays while dining or lounging outside, why not consider adding a patio cover to your setup? It can serve as a sun shield while giving you the opportunity to add personal style to a backyard. Just take your pick: There are pergolas aplenty, natural materials, and lights to string up. These five patio cover ideas prove that capping off your outdoor space is a feat best accomplished by creativity, even if you choose to source materials and build the structure yourself.

Light It Up

Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Stringing bulbs along the planks of a pergola is perfect for illuminating a late-evening cocktail hour or nighttime outdoor dining (when moonlight isn’t available). Plus it creates a sense of ambience and intimacy. 

Get Inspired by Travel

To bring a bit of Bali to her California backyard, Angela O’Brien, founder of sustainable and ethical clothing brand Cleobella, had a structure known as a joglo built and carved in Indonesia. The pieces were shipped to the U.S. in a large container, and Angela and her husband, Jim, and the couple’s longtime friends Elaina Myers and Susanna Ward from Design 4 Corners assembled it. “You put it together like a puzzle, so there’s no hammer and nails. The parts just fight right in,” she explains. As a final custom touch, Jim repurposed part of the base for a backyard dining table.

Soften Things With Cloth

Los Angeles–based writer Camilla Blackett covered her gravel patio with an airy white fabric that reflects light, shields plants from excessive sun exposure, and keeps the area cool. 

Go All In on Texture

When designer Claire Thomas helped friend and cinematographer Yayo Ahumada transform his ’80s Yucca Valley, California, ranch, she enlisted her brother and a group of friends to build an outdoor seating structure with nonslip tiles. Then they sourced the wood from Home Depot and topped everything off with a roof made out of ocotillo, a notably sturdy, drought-tolerant plant.

Make It Mod

The patio at Prairie Interiors owner Shannon McLaren‘s Newport Beach, California, mid-century modern house is outfitted with a crisp white take on a pergola that echoes the home’s bones (and eaves). Prim slats of wood cross over the space and connect the house’s open-concept design with the outdoors.

Furnish With a Flourish