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Custom Pergola Design Inspiration

Thinking about adding a pergola to your next outdoor living space? You’re in good company. When we talk to clients, almost every homeowner is looking to have covered living space in their new backyard. While pergolas from chain stores like Costco can be decent options for those on a tight budget, a custom pergola design will open a whole world of quality design, functionality, and durability for your space.


Custom pergolas allow you to not only choose your materials, but also ensure that the structure is designed specifically to the measurements of your space. Whether your backyard is too small for standard pergola options, or you are looking to integrate it into your design, custom pergolas are great options to get the most out of your covered living space.


Custom Fit Pergolas

A long pergola spanning the majority of the homeowner’s backyard.
A long pergola spanning the majority of the homeowner’s backyard.

A common problem with most store bought pergolas is that you are only able to choose from a certain quantity of dimensions. This means that if your space doesn’t fit within one of these predetermined sets of measurements, you may be out of luck. Custom pergola builds solve this problem, and allow you to think outside the box.


In the project above, the homeowner’s backyard was not traditionally proportioned. They were working with a smaller footprint, and the space was quite narrow. The homeowners wanted a large amount of covered living space, but were unsure how to make it work with the size constraints.


Our designers solved this problem with a custom pergola build. Instead of anchoring on all four corners to buried posts, the close edge of the pergola is actually anchored to the home itself. In this way, the structure acts almost as a natural extension of the home itself. Using these anchor points, the custom pergola stretches nearly the length of the yard without making the space feel small or cramped.


This is a design that the clients could never have achieved using a prefabricated pergola set. The finished effect was a custom pergola that looked like it had always been there, and left the homeowners with ample living space, even in their untraditionally sized backyard.


Custom Kitchen and Pergola

A custom pergola anchored by an outdoor kitchen and finished with angular slats.
A custom pergola anchored by an outdoor kitchen and finished with angular slats.

Speaking of untraditional ways to construct a pergola, this next custom pergola build is a nod to the type of ingenuity that is an option when you invest in a custom living space. In this project, the homeowners wanted covered living space that included an outdoor kitchen and bar. The designers wanted to deliver on this living space without intruding on any of the new deck’s square footage. This means creating a custom pergola structure that is anchored differently than typical builds.


For this custom pergola, wood columns are anchored at three unique points in the build. Two of these supporting columns are anchored inside raised planting beds, and the third is built directly into the new kitchen peninsula. This prevents the footprint of the pergola from eating into any living usable space on the deck itself.


At the opposite side, the pergola is again anchored to the roof of the home itself. The slats on each of the four sections are laid on an angle. When the sun comes through, these angular slats cast a beautiful pattern of shadows that morph and transform as the sun moves through the sky.

Pergola Covered Fireplace

A custom pergola finished with crossing perpendicular slats, providing coverage for the client’s outdoor living space.
A custom pergola finished with crossing perpendicular slats, providing coverage for the client’s outdoor living space.

A great outdoor living space is one that transitions easily from day to night. To make this transition possible, you need to find ways to maintain comfort and functionality as conditions change. In the space above, the homeowners were interested in bringing the comfort of indoor living to their outside space with an outdoor living room and fireplace.


Above, you see the fireplace column that is surrounded by comfortable outdoor couches and chairs. This provides ample comfort and warmth during cool evenings. However, during the day, steps need to be taken to prevent this space from growing uncomfortably hot. The solution? A custom pergola.


By anchoring the fireplace into the build of the pergola itself, the homeowners gain functionality in the design. During the day, the perpendicular beams of the custom pergola block just enough sunlight to cool things down. At night, the open top allows airflow and a clear view of the night sky. The support beams are built directly into planters, maximizing the patio's usable space.


Light and Shadow

A custom pergola anchored on the client’s deck, finished with clean, parallel slates that cast shadows across the wood below.
A custom pergola anchored on the client’s deck, finished with clean, parallel slates that cast shadows across the wood below.

Part of the appeal of a well designed pergola is consideration for how light will move through it during the day. The angle of the slats will determine how shadows are cast. Done correctly, this can make the light cast by a custom pergola as much of a design asset as the pergola itself.


Above, a custom pergola has been built directly into the client's deck. Steel framework supports warm wooden beams that echo the tone and finish of the wood decking below. Running parallel to each other, the slats cast a striped pattern of bold shadows that dance across the decking as the sun traverses the sky.


The finished effect is a clean, streamlined custom pergola that offers both style and functionality to the space. From cohesive materials to custom sizing, a custom pergola is yet another chance for homeowners to ensure that their space is truly personal to them.


Discover More Custom Pergola Design Inspiration

On the hunt for more custom pergola designs or inspiration? Check out the blog. From finished projects to in-progress designs, we have all of the landscape design inspiration you didn’t know you needed. For a day to day look at what Water and Earth is up to, follow us on Instagram!

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