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10 Creative Uses for Pergolas Beyond Just Providing Shade

A pergola is the most popular way for a Kiwi to add a shaded outdoor area to their home. But these outdoor structures are capable of offering so many more benefits than simply protecting you from the sun, particularly if you choose a modern, innovative pergola design like the Johnson & Couzins SkyLouvre system.

What are the benefits of a cleverly crafted outdoor space, beyond simply providing shade? You might be surprised at exactly how much functionality a pergola is capable of delivering.

In this article, we'll take a look at the many ways you can use a pergola or patio, how the addition of these outdoor living spaces can enhance your lifestyle, and a few modern pergola ideas that can help you to dial up the uses and benefits even further.

1. Expand your living space

Increasing the square metreage of your home can make it more comfortable, functional and valuable. But building a fully enclosed extension can be a rather expensive undertaking that may take years to complete.

The addition of a pergola is a relatively cost-effective way to expand your living space, and one that can be completed in weeks or months, rather than years. Modern pergolas like our SkyLouvre range even allow you to fully enclose your outdoor living space through the use of stylish, retractable louvres in vertical and overhead form.

2. Create an outdoor dining area

What's better than 5-star dining? Thousand star dining. On a warm summer's night, there's no better way to finish your day or week than with a meal under the stars, and when you choose a retractable louvred pergola design, you'll be able to open the roof and be bathed in the glimmer of starlight as you dine.

Your outdoor dining experience can be complemented, and perhaps heightened, by cooking your meal using an outdoor kitchen, whether that be a simple Weber or a full-size chef station.

3. Lounge outdoors

What you do with your newly created outdoor space is up to you, but one of the most popular ways to utilise the extra room is as a secondary lounge. Add some comfy outdoor seating, a TV and a few games, and you've got a space that can be enjoyed by the whole family whenever you have downtime: after work and school, on weekends or during holidays.

Add some soft lighting and an outdoor heater, and you can lounge in your outdoor area all day, into the evening, and at any time of year!

4. Enjoy the outdoor living in any weather

Pergolas aren't just capable of protecting you from the sun - the best pergolas can handle almost anything that Mother Nature can throw at them. If you choose your pergola wisely, the use of your outdoor living area won't be weather dependent at all.

Pergolas with roofs will protect you from rain, hail and snow, while pergolas with walls can make your outdoor space perfectly comfortable, even on windy days. And if you choose a SkyLouvre system, you can open your pergola roof and walls up on the nice days, and close them to enjoy complete protection on less than ideal days.

5. Create a secluded part of your backyard

Space is at a premium in New Zealand cities, which means outdoor privacy is harder to come by than ever before. As double- and triple-story homes leer over shrinking backyards, the addition of a strategically designed pergola can create a truly private and secluded area - a place where you can relax, sunbake or have a romantic evening with your partner without worrying about prying eyes.

Once again, a retractable pergola like the Johnson & Couzins SkyLouvre system allows you to maximise both privacy and enjoyment. You can open up specific sections of your pergola in order to enjoy either light or shade in perfect privacy.

6. Integrate nature into the structure

Originally pergolas weren't built with roofs at all - shade and weather protection was instead supplied by plants like trees and vines that were grown on and around the structure. And while modern pergolas do tend to feature roofs, integrating nature can still add to the functionality and aesthetics of your outdoor living area.

Vines and climbing plants can form a natural curtain that helps to enclose your outdoor space. Simple potted plants can add to the look and ambiance of the pergola. If you want a natural focal point, you could consider building your pergola around an established tree.

7. Host parties and gatherings

One of the primary benefits of a pergola is the opportunity to host get-togethers. A pergola provides a reason in and of itself to catch up with friends and family, who you can invite around for Friday night drinks under the stars, or a Sunday roast in the sun.

You can add amenities to your outdoor living area to make a visit even more tempting for your loved ones: by constructing a poolside pergola, or installing a spa pool on your decking, you'll offer your guests an almost hotel-level experience.

8. Get stylish with your pergola

When you build a pergola from scratch, you enjoy a blank canvas on which you can add your own style and personality. This begins with the pergola materials that you choose: a wood pergola brings a natural feel, while an aluminium pergola like a SkyLouvre adds a sleek, minimalist, modern look, and can be paired with timber decking for the best of both worlds.

Paint can make a big difference to the look and feel of your outdoor area: darker colours can add a moody, classy look, while a light tone, such as a crisp white pergola, can be a sunny, mood-lifting option (though keep in mind that it will be harder to keep clean).

From there you can enhance your outdoor living space through any combination of outdoor furniture, decor and decorations. You can style your pergola as an extension or your home, carrying the look and feel from the indoors to the outdoors, or you can treat it as its own space, and lean into any look you choose: coastal, boho, vintage, contemporary or whatever else.

9. Add value to your property

The moment you add a pergola to your home, you increase property value. And you might be surprised to learn exactly how much value you've added.

Figures vary, but according to OneRoof, "the general rule of thumb is that you get up to a six-fold return on any investment spent making your home’s exterior areas more appealing." You read that correctly: for every dollar that you spend on a pergola, you might increase the value of your property by as much as $6.

Obviously this rule is far from set in stone, and the value you add will depend on your property, your area, and the quality and functionality of the pergola. If you're renovating your forever home, the primary purpose of a pergola will be to enhance your lifestyle, so the financial advantages of an installation might be an afterthought. Nevertheless, they can be significant.

Johnson & Couzins: NZ’s ultimate pergolas

The best pergola for your home will be one that offers so much more than shade. It will provide protection from all the elements, it will add style and value to your home, it will be organic and functional, private and comfortable.

At Johnson & Couzins we build NZ's ultimate pergolas. They represent the pinnacle of quality, style and functionality, and are designed to transform any property that they are added to.

Interested in enhancing your home with a retractable pergola? Get in touch with our friendly team today.

FAQs

Do pergolas actually provide shade?

Historically pergolas were basic framed structures that were treated as an extension of the garden. Shade was provided by trees, vines and climbing plants that were integrated into the pergola. While this made for visually stunning and perfectly natural outdoor areas, protection from the sun was low, inconsistent or both.

Modern pergolas tend to feature roofs, and can provide complete protection from the sun. Some pergolas, like those fitted with Johnson & Couzins SkyLouvres, can even be opened and closed to let as much or as little light in as you choose.

What is the point of an uncovered pergola?

While uncovered pergolas are less popular than they used to be, they are certainly still an option, and can add a very unique and natural look to your home. But, given that they offer limited shade and protection from the elements, they are best suited to areas that experience low rainfall.

Can pergolas withstand rainy weather?

Speaking of rain, a modern, roofed pergola can comfortably withstand wet weather and provide protection to anyone beneath. In fact, there's no more relaxing way to spend a rainy day than curled up within your pergola, next to an outdoor heater, reading a book while you listen to the pitter-patter of the drizzle hitting the roof. 

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