We’ll let you in on a little something: Not all patio shade ideas require an enormous budget to execute. Some need only the slightest design tweaks to rise to the occasion, like adding an airy canvas cover, mood-setting minimalist lighting, or greenery for interest and cooling purposes. We’ve gathered five shade ideas that take cues from color and nature, while others let outdoor accessories do the heavy lifting. Read on for more inspo.
Top It Off With Color
One of the three (!) patios at photographer and mural artist Champagne Dubois’s L.A. apartment is covered with a bold striped canopy. The wood-framed structure supports fabric in a rich color palette, which adds texture and warmth to the space while blocking just enough sunlight. Simple string lights lend a bit of ambience to complete the design.
Stick to the Sunniest Spots
If you have a tree-filled backyard, shielding the entire patio may not be necessary. Instead, take a note from the Catskills’s Callicoon Hills Resort, which uses a couple strips of canvas as coverage for areas that receive the most sunlight. To re-create this idea on a pergola, go with light-reflecting neutral tones such as beige, taupe, or khaki that blend with the furniture and natural surroundings.
The Bigger the Umbrella, the Better
Maximize light shielding by placing large umbrellas all around your patio. Try them side by side or solely over lounging spaces, like this gorgeous Domino-approved poolside setup, or work in one that has built-in lighting or can cantilever. Abbe Fenimore, founder and principal designer of Studio Ten 25 in Dallas, has told us that “the intention is to add shade without the challenge of moving the umbrella around while you are out enjoying the space.” We couldn’t agree more.
Make Nature Your Muse
Designer Alex Boudreau built a thatched roof for her Todos Santos, Mexico, beach home out of fallen palm fronds (extra, we know). While you might not be able to pull this feat off with maple leaves per se, Boudreau’s approach to upcycling natural materials offers an example of how innovative and eco-conscious shade options can be inspired by the elements.
Let Plants Do the Work
This inviting, down-to-earth patio has all the elements of a cool outdoor chill spot, including hanging plants (and a single potted one), which are positioned perfectly to absorb light and partially conceal the seating area. Try this technique with full flora: Begin with a droopy-leaf, sun-loving bird of paradise to cover the space between the ground and the furniture, then fill in the middle with majesty palms (they’ll give you plenty of privacy) and top things off with a few hanging pothos.