We're always looking for any excuse we can find to spend more time outside—but when springtime gives way to the sweltering sun of high summer, we're at the mercy of the shade wherever we can find it. For those who love gathering in the backyard but hate turning lobster red, a patio cover of some sort is a must.
Adding a year-round structure to your patio is a nice option, of course—but if you're a renter, someone who relocates often, or just not that handy with a hammer, there are other ways to seek out some shade, too. From oversized umbrellas to DIY cabanas, anyone can add a bit of cooling coverage to their home patio—and extend the life of their outdoor living room, to boot.
Read on for some of our favorite patio cover ideas, from elegant architectural suggestions to temporary DIY ones.
Try Modern and Modular
Sleek and versatile, this style of awning is exactly what we want from a patio cover. Its sturdy, substantial frame is designed for all-year use, while the airy breathable cover allows for circulation and airflow.
Best of all, peripherals like lights can be mounted on the frame as seen here—a must for those who like to lounge outside well into the summer evenings.
Incorporate Farmhouse-Style Framing
This structure draws inspo from the classic lines of a farmhouse, achieving a look that's both on-trend and seemingly timeless. The comfy kitchen-slash-living-room setup is designed to help maximize time outdoors—and isn't that what we're all looking for this time of year?
The open rafter area is ideal for letting the season's breezes wisp through, and overhead fans can be added to help facilitate some flow when there's no breeze to be found.
Open to Arbor Vibes
For an option that lets you still soak up some rays, this open-top arbor-style cover is a classic way to go. The thicker beams interrupt any direct sun depending on where they're placed, so be sure to finesse the position at your own home for the right result.
Still, the open design lets some warming sunbeams come through. Best of all, this design is prime real estate for trailing plants, from classic grapevines to more tropical varieties that will add lush greenery with time.
Make it All Decked Out
On the flip side, this option provides plenty of coverage with solid decking overhead. The horizontal planks add a little visual interest and depth, especially when painted in this unexpected deep grey-green hue—a modern way to add contrast with the white stone surround.
The finishing touch: a cool woven light fixture provides a focal point and lends an elegant vibe to al fresco living.
Embrace Your Cabana Dreams
If a white-sand getaway doesn't fit in your schedule this year, fear not. This oh-so-chic cabana can be made in a weekend if you know where to start.
Drape the copper pipe frame with breezy linen curtains, or gossamer sheers designed to flow dramatically in the breeze. The design shown here doesn't include a covering at the top, but you can easily add swags of fabric over the copper crossbar to create a little more coverage from the sun.
All that's left to do is pour yourself. a drink with an umbrella, and take a few dozen Insta selfies—all tagged to some far-flung locale, of course.
Add a Structure That's Tall, Dark, and Glossy
Another solid, built-on option, this patio enhances the cool factor of this poolside space. The rich, dark hue chosen for the ceiling has an ultra-glossy finish, lending a luxe touch that's equal parts unexpected and dramatic.
Best of all, it can reflect the best assets of this outdoor zone—including the rippling waves of the high-design pool.
Add Seasonal Shade
An oversized umbrella is a patio classic for a reason: it's easy to implement, readily movable when the sun shifts, and can be taken down at the end of the season. Picking the right size is important: too small, and your guests will end up huddled around it, inching their chairs back and forth as the sun sets.
As with rugs, it's better to size up than to size down, but for all the mobility and versatility of this option as a patio cover, it really does go a long way to make an outdoor space feel more homey and livable for the season. Strung through with twinkle lights, or fitted with lanterns, it's sure to be the base of many a memorable evening.
Glam a Greenhouse
Believe it: this DIY garden greenhouse could be yours. If you're an avid gardener, a next-level entertainer, or just someone who prefers to be indoors even when they're outdoors, this stunning homespun project is for you.
Using reclaimed windows, Ursula from Home Made By Carmona tricked out her standard garden shack to create this glamorous greenhouse—an idyllic spot to sip a cup of coffee and water plants, or even host a mini cocktail hour. We've never seen a DIY project that ignited our imaginations quite like this before.
When it comes to the great outdoors, sometimes less is more. Spaced in this wide-open configuration, these overhead slats aren't designed with shade in mind—but they provide the perfect scaffolding for string lights, trailing plant tendrils, or even gauzy fabric.
What they lack in shade they more than make up for in defining this outdoor space and making it feel more like a "room"—and one we'd like to spend all our time in, to be honest.
Embrace Desert Digs
Desert living has never looked so lush. This space pulls out all the stops: fabric swags overhead, rattan pendant lights hung in an impactful cluster, and privacy curtains you can open or close—not that you'd want to block out the stunning landscape.
This design feels perfect for entertaining, and we can practically feel the subtle desert breeze rustling the dreamy curtains from here.